Three Reasons not to Hire a Zombie
02-02-2015 at 01:45 PM
Category: Business

On a recent business trip, I decided to rent a car from a different company than I normally rent from. I did this as they were part of my airline’s reward program and I wanted to take advantage of the additional points to my account. As I went through their process of attaining my rental, I couldn’t help but to compare them to the other company I usually use. Customer service was okay. Friendly, but not overly so. I would say they “met expectations” – kind of – if I lowered my expectations to what I would imagine a zombie would give. I noticed a woman next to me being attended to by another agent was having difficulty with her reservation. Apparently, she used an international driver’s license as per the rental car company website’s instructions to secure the reservation, but neglected to go to another part of the reservation process to use her U.S. ID to get the car. Obviously a breakdown in process.  Reason number one not to hire a zombie: lack of clear communication.

I watched as this confused business woman tried to get clarity from the agent as to what to do. He told her to go to the website and see if they could help her. If this were your business, what would you have done for this customer? I’ll give you my thoughts at the end of this blog.

I received my receipt and was told to go out the door and to the left. So out the door I went and to the left. I was faced with a large parking lot, and no one there to guide me. I looked around. Maybe the employee was busy helping another customer. I looked around some more. No one. I decided to be bold and walk out into the parking lot. Maybe I would run into someone. I saw a group of people getting into their rental car about 50 yards away so I headed in that direction. The employee finished with the group and then took off leaving me standing by myself. I looked around again. Hmmmm. Not really anyone here. Then a car came zooming around the corner and another employee gets out. “Whatcha got there bud?” he said to me. I handed him my paperwork. “That’s your car over there,” he said pointing to one of the parked cars nearby.

Okay, two problems. “Whatcha,” and “bud” are not the most professional words to use with your customers – unless your business is a surf shop. But I digress.

I got in the car and noticed that the “low tire pressure” light was on. I stepped out of the car and asked, “Do you need to check over the car?” I know from the other company I usually rent from that they go over the car meticulously, noting every scratch, mark, or dent. It’s just part of their customer service culture. “No,” he mumbled. “You’re good to go.” So off I went. Reason number two not to hire a zombie: the walking dead really have no discernable intelligence.

Fast forward to the next day. My business meetings are done and I get into the car to drive the 75 miles back to the airport. About five minutes into the drive, BLAM! I get a blow-out in the right rear tire. Hmmmm. I guess that “low tire pressure” light should have been looked at.

I know what you’re thinking.  I should have looked at that. I shouldn’t have taken the car. In my defense, is it unreasonable to expect that a rental car company should provide a vehicle that is safe for it’s customers? I don’t want to name names, ($) but I think a company ($) should have a policy of checking over their cars thoroughly before releasing them. Maybe this company ($) does have such a policy. Maybe the break down is in the hiring of “bud man” who looked more like a zombie than an excited employee.

Back to our confused business woman left stranded by the ever-so-helpful rental agent.

Before I left the lobby for my car, I saw the frustration on her face as she juggled luggage, a purse, and briefcase while attempting to navigate the rental car company’s website on a 3 inch smartphone screen.  So what do you think the company should have done? It seems rather obvious, but the agent should have picked up the phone or logged into the website himself. He should have walked this customer through the process in such an expert fashion that the woman would have not have doubted for a moment that she chose the right car rental company. They could have really advanced their reputation within this woman’s circle by offering a free upgrade (if available) for the confusion caused by their company’s process. They could have done any number of things to live out the company value of “Exceptional Service to our Customers.” Of course, you need that value to start with, which, by the looks of her situation and mine, was missing from all company documentation. Reason number three not to hire a zombie: you can’t trust an entity whose only purpose in life is to consume the life of the living.

How did my experience end? After a long process for filling out an incident report and three weeks of time, I received a lovely gift of four “$10 off your next rental” coupons. I used them for something other than their intended use.


Jeff Orr is a Leadership Performance Coach, Business Coach, Author, and Transformational Speaker. Through his coaching company, InDemand Leadership, Jeff empowers executives, leaders and business owners to perform to their full potential through a unique coaching program based in a foundation of core values. Jeff's passion for seeing leaders reach and exceed their goals comes through in his one-to-one coaching sessions, keynote speaking engagements, leadership retreats, and his new book, Succeed In The New Normal.

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Keywords: zombie, customer service, hiring, employee, car rental, leadership, Jeff Orr


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