by Jim Garrett
Enterprise Holdings is evolving toward the future of car rental by launching an innovative self-service process through its National brand. Leading the charge in this effort is Jared Bridgeman, Technology Product Manager. Jared is responsible for the development of their National-branded digital products including the app and responsive website. As a former UX designer, he is actively focused on the usability of the products he manages.
From the prioritization of features, to solving customer struggles through research and applied usability principles, he is constantly looking for ways to deliver a premium experience for the control enthusiast.
It seems UX is no longer an isolated entity within companies; it is becoming more integrated in the overall systems and flow of the company processes. Would you agree with that?
Oh, I totally agree. In fact, the Product Development team at Enterprise Holdings continues to grow and is composed partly of former UX team members, myself included. In our new roles, we continue to champion UX research and design disciplines as a core value in developing our digital products.
One of the key elements of building a successful product is a continued focus on customer needs. It has been extremely valuable to have a background in usability to more deeply understand what customers experience when they interact with our websites and apps. A good product manager maintains this customer-centric approach while maximizing business value and evaluating technical feasibility.
What process do you go through to marry the usability with the product development?
Usability is key throughout the development process. In the design stage, we make educated decisions based on UX principles and then follow up with testing to validate our designs. This process is continually iterative and accelerated, especially for mobile apps.
Our National app has been in the market for three years and we are launching our third redesign later this month. As a part of this process, we are continuing to make our applications more native to their platforms and therefore more consistent with the customer experience on other apps. To validate our re-designed app, we completed a remote usability study on targeted facets and adjusted our final product to reflect the feedback we received.
Can you talk about some of the features that you have created for the app?
One of the primary goals of our app is to expedite the entire rental process and offer the convenience of control at the customer’s fingertips. One specific feature we recently launched is called Virtual Exit. This is available at our Emerald Aisle locations, where Emerald Club members can reserve a midsize car and choose any vehicle from the Aisle.
To further enhance this service, the app allows customers to scan a QR code on the vehicle and choose their options to control their exit process. Ultimately, we plan to evolve this feature further by offering members a seamless self-service pickup process via the app with an automated exit gate.
What other parts of the rental process can customers manage through the app?
The National app offers complete trip management from reservation to returning the vehicle. When Emerald Club members reserve in the app, they can track their upcoming trip and the app will notify them if they need to update important profile information such as expired driver’s license or payment.
When they arrive at their destination, our app provides detailed directions to the National lot. When it’s time to return the car, the app will send a notification and they can extend their rental directly via the app instead of calling.
That is an absolutely amazing direction for service. Is it part of your branding?
At Enterprise Holdings, our brands are some of the most important things we own. Centered within our Marketing group, our Product Management team works with many business stakeholders to deliver a digital experience that corresponds to the service customers have come to expect from these brands. To continue to elevate this level of service for National, we want to provide features for the frequent business traveler to make their car rental as painless as possible.
We listen to these business travelers through an active member community where we can gather insights, ask questions, and introduce new product concepts. In addition to usability studies on upcoming features and enhancements, we are constantly listening to this group. They tell us what is important to them, and we strive to provide value through useful features that improves their rental process and differentiates us from the competition.
How has your CUA training affected what you do?
One of the main benefits of the CUA training for me is how it affected my working relationship with our internal UX team. Many of the usability principles provided in the training help me to communicate on a deeper level and work as part of a team to solve user struggles by speaking with the same terminology.
The CUA training has also helped me make a case for prioritizing usability optimization and user-centered design enhancements. Armed with user research, it is easier to emphasize the importance of continued investment in usability improvements to business stakeholders. We can ultimately correlate the impact of this optimization to customer satisfaction and therefore the business value.
Where do you find your passion, what drives you in your work?
Technology continues to evolve, allowing us to leverage improvements to customer service and interaction with our brands. There is always something new and our teams continue to push the envelope. There is so much to look forward to and also maintain the stability of the product. It is definitely a place I feel at home, and there is always a new challenge every day. The process of conceptualizing these ideas with an engaged development team is an extremely positive experience. It comes down to having that entrepreneurial spirit at Enterprise Holdings. Ideas come from marketing, developers, and a huge customer base that is invested in making the car rental process better.
We work with a diverse stakeholder group with many priorities for business value. It is my job to organize them in a roadmap and work quickly to get them to market. At the end of the day, knowing that these things really do impact customer behavior makes me excited to work in this field.
I’ve experienced the process of jumping on a flight, standing in a TSA line, or getting delayed and the frustrations that are inherent to traveling. I hope to affect our piece of that experience where renting a car becomes an effortless and enjoyable process.
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