We left the airport in our rental car recently and determined a toll road to our destination was the best route. What we didn’t know at the time was the toll road was completely automated and would either charge against an in-car transponder (which we didn’t have) or bill based on the license plate. Since we were in a rental car, of course the road authority would contact Hertz. Which presumably would charge us, plus a hefty surcharge for their administrative costs.

While at the rental lot, no mention was made of the toll road, to avoid it, or better, what to do to take advantage of its automation. So we couldn’t anticipate what we needed and thus are forced to contact Hertz after the fact to see how to pay the toll.

How could this have gone better?

The toll road, like others in many metropolitan areas, is a major thoroughfare. Hertz could have either:

Alerted me via email prior to arrival about the road’s presence and availability of a transponder. I could have clicked a link to have a transponder installed in our car.┬áSuch a transponder would be installed in our car and ready to go when we arrived, and would simply charge our credit card for the applicable tolls.
– or –
If managing a set of transponders is too complex, still alerted me to the road’s presence and let me know ahead of time that any tolls would be automatically added to our final bill. If there’s a surcharge associated with this, then notification of that is key too.

This would have better set expectations and we would have had a better experience knowing exactly what needed to be done (virtually nothing, since Hertz took care of us by anticipating our needs).

Yes, there’s increased complexity for Hertz in doing this, and they have to manage their fleet of cars in such a way where the transponders correspond to the right cars and the right cars are available to renters. While I wouldn’t expect this as much from Dollar or Thrifty or Budget, Hertz is at the top of the heap, so I expect more from them. If you’re at the top, your clients will expect more from you. Your task is identifying what it is they’ll be expecting and exceeding it even before they realize it.

So the question is, what are you doing today to anticipate your clients’ needs? Are they feeling anxious because they don’t have sufficient instruction or direction from you? Or are they feeling confident because you’ve taken care of everything they could possibly think of? If you’re consistently getting similar questions from clients at the same point in the creative process, perhaps you’re not yet fully anticipating their needs. But with that you’ve already identified this deficiency and can correct it today. Make it so.

colorful-bottles-new-orleans

A bottle installation serves as a colorful sculpture near Jackson Square, New Orleans.