So it's been over a week since I first raised this issue with Enterprise customer service through @Enterprise and @Enterprisecares on Twitter. On Monday night, I was informed by one customer service agent that they had created a case. On Friday morning, I was informed that my case was submitted a second time.
When you're setting up Salesforce.com, the default length of time for case escalation is 3 days. While I don't recall whether there was a default escalation schedule in Zendesk, there is no question that customer service CRM tools all recognize the importance of operating in a timely fashion.
For those that might not be familiar with it, case escalation essentially raises the importance of a case. When you first contact customer service at an organization using a customer service CRM, they typically create a case to track your issue. All of your communications with the company go there. There's also a status tracker that references what stage in the process of solving your problem the issue is in. Most cases are working toward a process stage of Closed - Solved. This is the customer service equivalent of a Sales Opportunity being Closed - Won.
This is why when you deal with some customer service organizations, they will specifically say something like, "Have I answered all of your questions" or "Is there anything else", followed by a "then can I mark this issue as closed" or something to that effect.
Escalation is the process where certain cases trigger automatic alerts, typically to managers who are supposed to have the oversight to step in and make sure certain kinds of issues don't get out of hand. Since many customer service contacts can be for fairly minor things, good customer service organizations use these tools to help prevent issues "falling through the cracks". The last thing you need is to contact Comcast for help setting up your cable, only to have them forget about you for a month. These are the kinds of things that alienate customers.
Customer service queuing is why customer service software is often used to send out status updates. It's a whole lot easier for you to feel like you're being taken care of when somebody informs you of their progress along the way. Imagine if you went to the customer service department in a store and the clerk listened to your story, said "I'll be back," and disappeared. How long would you wait before becoming frustrated? One hour? Less? Would you wait through the end of the day? Would you come back the next day?
So when you see things like my issue with Enterprise Car Rental, as you watch their customer service act and respond, you can't help but compare many of these actions to industry standard practices. These practices are not unknown. And when I asked their customer service about them over Twitter, they confirmed several aspects of them. This is not some 'Mom-n-Pop' organization. So where's the sense of progress? Where are my status updates? Where's my escalation?
And while it may seem crazy to be this dogged about something as minor as a $30 overcharge, it's important to remember -- this is the same customer service mechanism that you would deal with if something far worse had happened. For example, what if they were claiming damage to the vehicle or that, despite turning the vehicle in at an Enterprise Rental Car return, that they hadn't received the car and that it was missing? All of the gloss and friendliness at the front end of the rental counter doesn't mean anything if the customer service back-end sucks.