Zipcar's Philosophy On The Power Of Profuse Apology In The Face Of Customer Complaints

Zipcar's Lesley Mottla shares why you need to accept and own up to problems that crop up when service goes wrong.

"Why did this happen?"

Lesley Mottla, executive VP of product and member experience of Zipcar, knows this question--a question that no business executive wants to hear, but certainly will.

So how do you respond to tough questions when a service has gone wrong? Be frank, according to Mottla, and then work to fix the problem.

Lesley Mottla

"What I try to do is just be very very transparent and honest with them," she says. "I obviously apologize profusely and try to do what I can do to make that situation right."

"My role is to get people together to figure out how to design that problem out of our service. And so I tell them very honestly what I'm going to do about it. If it is a problem that we caused, I acknowledge it."

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  • Katy22

    Has everything been perfect with my Zipcar membership? No. However, I will tell you that by being persistent when something was not handled as I felt it should be, and being polite but firm, I have developed a rather nice ongoing relationship with Zipcar. The rates for me, are oftentimes, comparable as I do not own a vehicle and thus would have to pay additional for insurance. I have found that when I need the car longer than a day, the it is just as expensive as most regular rentals. When I needed a vehicle in Atlanta, Zipcar actually proved to be more expensive, so I was forced to rent with another company for the duration of my visit. I do wish my $50 membership was allowed to rollover. By not having this feature for all the monthly prepaid memberships, it (1) sends a message that a customer spending $50 a month is not as valuable and $50 is not a significant enough amount to the company; (2) it means even if you don't need the car that month, you have to plan something so your money is not wasted. I had to take a taxi to get from one Zipcar to another; I told the rep this, and was informed the only way I could be reimbursed was if I sent them a receipt: mind you, the rep and I were speaking when I called the taxi and while I was in it - and I told her this. So, yes, Zipcar does have some issues, but most companies do. What's important is that they are trying to make things better.

  • Jay Gotlier

    Zipcar sucks. For the two years I was a member, it was one headache after another. Lots of incorrect charges, vehicle reservation changes, and endless hold times when calling customer service. Zipcar was never honest and transparent with me, and they never apologized or made up for their numerous fuck ups. Buyer beware and shop around. Zipcar by far is not the only carsharing company out there. Some of the others offer free memberships, better rates, and better service.

  • Kevin 'Demortes' Dethlefs

    Their rates seem to be just in line with Enterprise and the like... Enterprise looks at the car before you, cleans it before you and makes sure gas levels are at the proper amounts... I like the idea of rent by the hour stuff, but eh? Too many things that can go wrong with picking up a random car.

  • Eugene Kim

    I cancelled my zipcar membership two years ago because of their lack of service. I never received this profuse apology that she is referring to.

  • RuinedByAvis

    Zipcar just tried to scam me for damage to a car I rented from them two months after the rental!