Rental Reminder, an SMS conversation by SmartAction
Designed for: Penske Truck Rental
Note: some information is hidden for non-disclosure purposes
Penske Truck Rental is geared toward large, multi-location/multi-day moving trips. In the days leading up to such a big move, the last thing someone wants to worry about is their reservation falling through. A confusing or poorly made confirmation process can cause such a scenario. At SmartAction we implement AI to make such processes simpler.
When a Penske customer has a reservation coming up, they need to send a text message to confirm reservation details. This would enable Penske locations to set aside the necessary vehicles and applicable equipment. The existing bot was seeing low finish rates, hovering around 30%, and we had to analyze why.
Project success: increase containment rate and self service rate among rental confirmations.
The first question we had to answer; why was containment low?
As a conversation designer data is at the heart of everything I do. Numbers never lie, and if we can identify the correct numbers to analyze we can remove or limit mistakes, human bias, etc.
Finding patterns in data is a useful means of analysis. In reviewing the previous bot, we found users were dropping off at fairly random intervals. There was no single prompt or bug that ended interactions. In this case, the pattern we looked for did not exist. In short, the bot was too long.
Depth vs Simplicity
The existing bot was very thorough in its functionality. Users could customize just about every aspect of their rental. But thoroughness does not always provide a good user experience.
Stress should always be minimized by technology. Days before a cross-state or large move is a highly stressful time. The previous solution involved sending bits of the rental information at once, allowing a back-and-forth interaction for users to customize their pickup and dropoff details. Only when this process is cleared could users edit equipment and other aspects of their rentals. With so much going on in their lives, would users want to spend time texting a bot back and forth going over every detail?
According to stakeholders, we knew the majority of users were on smartphones. Most modern smartphones could condense multiple messages into one, allowing us to break the traditional 160 character limit.
A solution was born
Knowing the previous bot was far too long, and knowing we weren't concerned about the standard SMS character limit, the solution became rather simple. Let's send users a single message with all the important rental information. If they wanted to confirm, great! If they needed to make an edit, the Penske website was a quicker and snappier solution to edit multiple fields of data instead of SMS.
As always, there were hesitations.
For an outbound SMS, would such a long message come off as spam to a user? There's always the risk, but in this case users had opted in when they reserved a vehicle. They knew an SMS would come.
What about leaving off smaller details like equipment rental? For me, this was very much a case of trusting the most knowledgeable stakeholders. Penske knows their business far better than me, and understanding this was the most important information and all they needed to confirm made sense. Furniture pads and dolleys are not in short supply; trucks are. We needed to get the vehicle set for the customer, the rest should not interfere with that goal.