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How a Viral Tweet Impacted Hertz’s Customer Experience


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.

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? 

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.

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. 

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:

    • Monitor events in real-time — The right social listening tools enable you to learn about a potential crisis as it’s happening, like Klonick’s Twitter thread about Hertz going viral. Your team can follow the crises in real-time and see them through to the end. 
    • Competitor analysis — Track your competitors’ names and relevant keywords in order to see what sentiment is around them. 
    • Understand customer sentiment — See how what your customers are saying and feeling directly from the source. 
    • Spot trends — A social listening solution will allow you to spot trending topics within your customer base, which may provide actionable insights for your team moving forward. 

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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