How a Viral Tweet Impacted Hertz’s Customer Experience

Brynne Ramella

New York lawyer Kate Klonick didn’t expect to go viral over Thanksgiving, but her experience with car rental company Hertz was disappointing enough to make that happen. What should have been a simple process of Klonick picking up her car for the holidays turned into a valuable social listening and monitoring lesson for businesses.

Where Hertz’ Customer Experience Fell Flat

Klonick went viral on Twitter for sharing a letter detailing her less-than-ideal experience with Hertz.

I had a Very Bad experience with @Hertz over Thanksgiving.

This is what happened & the letter I wrote. We are totally fine, & our Thanksgiving ended up wonderful, but I suspect this is a fraudulent business practice, & I want to give it visibility for those who don’t or can’t.

— Kate Klonick (@Klonick) November 30, 2021

She and her partner were set to pick up a car from a Hertz location at 12 pm. But they were greeted with a long line when they arrived, along with the news that their particular location was technically already closed and wouldn’t serve all the customers in line. After waiting in line for two hours and begging the representative to provide them with the car they were promised, Klonick was sent on a wild goose chase around the area.

Hertz repeatedly offered Klonick another reservation for more than $1,400 over the original price she was promised, kept her on hold for more than a half-hour, disconnected her calls to customer service, and sent her back and forth to various Hertz locations. She eventually had to take a car that was $500 more than her original guaranteed price. The original purpose of her letter was to ask for reimbursement for the money that Hertz owed her. The car rental company said they would, but Klonick posed a valid question — would her issue have gotten any attention if the Twitter thread hadn’t gone viral? 

UPDATE: I received a call a little after 5pm ET today from an executive customer service rep from Hertz’s corporate office. They refunded me the entire amount I requested on my credit card.

When I asked how I would have ever resolved this if the tweet hadn’t gone viral…

— Kate Klonick (@Klonick) November 30, 2021

Providing Exceptional Customer Experience in the Age of Social Media

At the time of writing this article, Klonick’s Twitter thread has 44,500 likes, 2,865 quote tweets, and 8,571 retweets. Those numbers are steadily climbing. When Klonick posted an update that Hertz has yet to refund her a number of Twitter users replied and commiserated with Klonick and shared their dissatisfaction with the car rental company’s customer service.

Thank you for writing this. I thought I was going insane because this is literally every major service Corp. hang up. No answer. Send you to 20 different people. Can’t talk to a human. It’s beyond frustrating.

— Heidi Baker (@tatularu) December 1, 2021

Thank you for posting your saga. Now I know never to use @hertz in the future. And I have a very, VERY long memory for this sort of thing.

— it’s M the autumn owl (@owlinautumn) December 1, 2021

Now Hertz did acknowledge Klonick’s thread the same day she posted it. A representative reached out and offered to look further into the case. But in Klonick’s eyes, the damage was already done. As she has 34,000 Twitter followers, plenty of them likely picked up the same perspective. 

Dear Donna-Bot,

Thank you but I did this the day all this was happening and got no reply! I just submitted this letter into the Black Box of your Customer Support Complaint Form it took me 17 minutes to find on your webpage!

Happy December,

— Kate Klonick (@Klonick) November 30, 2021

Social media has completely changed expectations for the customer experience. Previously, disgruntled customers would share feedback directly with companies or on various review sites. This kept bad reviews somewhat contained to a relatively small circle. But platforms like Twitter and Facebook have made it easier than ever to quickly post unsolicited, negative feedback that can spread like wildfire.

Related: 10 Tips for Creating a Great Customer Experience Programme

Maintaining Your Customer Experience with Social Media

While social media has presented some challenges to businesses looking to maintain their customer service and experience, it also presents some advantages as well. By planning out thorough social media monitoring and listening strategies, your business can gather real-time insights from customers. Social media monitoring is the more straightforward of the two processes as it alerts you to mentions of your company online. Social listening provides a little more color as to what people are saying about you online. 

Implementing a social media listening strategy provides a number of benefits to your company, such as:

But this data won’t mean anything unless you follow through on insights gathered from them. The great thing about social media customer service is that you can get fast feedback about where your business has room for improvement. That way, you can make quick and effective improvements, which will allow you to protect your brand’s reputation and customer experience in the long run. 

Keep Reading: The Complete Guide to Social Listening

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