Customers Rock!

A blog about customers, their experiences, and how businesses can make sure their customer experiences rock!

Avis says “I wanna rock!”

Posted by Becky Carroll on April 24, 2007

rockin.jpgI just had to blog about the most recent commercial from Avis.  For those of you who haven’t seen it, you can find it on YouTube here.  In the commercial, a customer approaches the Avis rental car counter and opens his mouth, wide.  A song from the 80s rock band Twisted Sister is broadcast from the customer’s mouth saying, “I wanna rock!”  The Avis employee looks confused, but another employee nearby comes over and says that she will serve this customer.  She opens her mouth wide, and another line from the Twisted Sister song is broadcast from her mouth.  The employee and customer “talk” back and forth this way until the transaction is completed.  The other employee doesn’t seem to be able to take part in their “conversation.”

Most people either seem to love or hate this commercial.   I like the way it displays the importance of speaking the customer’s language.  When we speak to our customers in the way they prefer, be it with jargon-free lingo or with Twisted Sister lyrics, we begin to relate to them on their level.  Rather than forcing our company’s way of doing things on our customers, we help them achieve their goals through their preferred methods.

I have discussed taking the customer’s perspective quite a bit on this blog.  One key aspect of taking their perspective is being able to communicate in their “language”.  Sometimes this means the actual words, and sometimes it means using the communication channels they want to use.

I hope the Avis commercial spurs discussion of what we can do to better communicate with customers in the way they want to be communicated.

(Photo credit: solarseven)


21 Responses to “Avis says “I wanna rock!””

  1. Becky, I can’t agree with you more. It is vitally important for anyone in the service industry to speak the member’s language. I’ve heard things like “pretend you’re speaking to your grandmother” in training sessions before as examples that I completely disagree with. If you have someone come into your store/branch/flower shop with tattoos down to their wrists and earnings to their shoulders, you can probably have a different type of conversation with that person. And if Twisted Sister walked in, I probably wouldn’t sing to them, but I wouldn’t pretend I was talking with my grandmother.

  2. Thanks for chiming in, Robbie! Good to see you here, and I think your comment is right on target. It is vitally important for customer service to speak the customer’s (or in your case, member’s) language. It is also critical that the rest of the organization does as well!

    Marketing needs to get better at speaking the customer’s language. This language may come from demographics and psychographics, as you suggest. I believe it also comes from understanding the customer’s needs. When we put ourselves in their shoes and understand what they need from us and are trying to do, we communicate on their level.

    One area to be cautious – when speaking their language, it has to be genuine! We can’t use a bunch of “cool” words with teenagers and think we are speaking the way they want to hear it.

    Thanks again, Robbie, for coming by and contributing! 🙂

  3. I love it! But I love anything Rock ‘n Roll. Am I Avis’s target market? Don’t know. Let’s hope they do. Because whether individuals love or hate an ad doesn’t matter, as long as the targeted market makes up the lovers, not the haters.

  4. I love rock and roll too, Lewis (you can’t tell by my blog name…)! Thanks for your interesting comment on their target market. The ad was actually to promote getting free iTunes downloads with your Avis rental. Do iTunes users relate to the commercial? I don’t know.

    I just think it is a clever way to promote understanding your customers.

  5. Becky, this is such a good point, and yet I heard a discussion recently where the folks involved were taking it way too literally. They were actually debating whether you should try to adopt your customer’s DIALECT when speaking to them. To me, the obvious answer was “NO” – it’s dishonest and would likely be construed as mockery. But these people had taken sides and were having a serious discussion, so I stayed out of it. LOL To me, “Speaking the customer’s language” just means understanding what motivates them to buy your product and showing them clearly how you can meet that need. If it takes Twisted Sister to make that point, I’m all for it! 🙂 ~ Janet

  6. Hey Becky!
    I’ve seen this commercial several times. Until I read your post, it wasn’t clear to me what it was all about. Must admit that I’ve never completely stopped what I was doing to watch. It was memorable enough to remember the music bytes coming out of the people’s mouths, but I had no idea it was for Avis.

    On the other hand, your point about talking to customers in their language or on their preferred channels is on the mark and highly memorable.


  7. Janet, your comment is right on the mark with me! It is indeed about understanding customers and their needs so you can communicate with them effectively about what you have to offer. Thank you for your thoughts!

    Doug, great to see you again. My husband didn’t get the commercial at first, either, but I am always viewing things with my customer glasses on. 😉 Thank you for your kind comments as well. If we don’t take customer preferences into account, we will miss the mark in a big way!

  8. Becky,

    Whenever the TV is on I immediately stop what I’m doing and have to watch it!

    You’ve made a good point here. It’s very important to speak to your customers so that they can understand you. Too often we get caught up in corporate jargon – just talk to them like you would talk to your best friend!

  9. Maria, I am somehow attracted to watching this commercial, too!

    Corporate jargon has no place in customer communications. Customers don’t understand it and don’t want to hear it. Not sure I would speak to a customer the same way I talk to my best friend; that could be a little scary! 🙂

  10. No Corporate Jargon, Please!

    Did you know that a survey found that two-thirds of employees prefer no jargon at work?  That 40% of workers surveyed thought that jargon showed a lack of confidence and people who used it were untrustworthy?  (Source)Becky Carroll of Custome…

  11. araf said

    Most ALIENATING AD EVER… would NEVER rent again from AVIS… based totally on this junk… what a bunch of babel about “talking the customers” language… the ad is poorly thought out and disgustingly meaningless… unfortunately it gets a lot of air time and I’m forced to mute the nonsense or flip channels… a real LOSER for whoever gives it airtime..

  12. Araf, thank you for your thoughts on the ad. As I mentioned, there are definitely those who like this commercial and those who can’t stand it. Is it good for a company to have an ad that is so polarizing? Does it turn away those who might have been customers longer, which is how you seem to be feeling? Or does that not matter as long as the “target customer” likes the ad, as Lewis suggested?

    Great discussion, thanks!

  13. Brian said

    Most aggravating commerical ever! The commerical is so aggravating you can’t forget it and you will discuss it with friends and I’m sure that’s part of its purpose. I didn’t get the concept that Avis is speaking the customer’s language because how overwhelingly irritating it is and I didn’t care about its message, I just want to find the mute button or change the channel.

  14. Thanks for chiming in, Brian. What is aggravating to some may be great to others. Hopefully it is great for the Avis target customer.

  15. Kris Seaboyer said

    I work for Avis Customer Service, and we’ve had multiple customers call and mention that they will not rent with us until this commercial is pulled.

    I don’t know why, it’s a great commercial.

  16. Kris, thanks for sharing the reactions from your customers. I would be interested to find out the reaction from your end when a customer says this. How do you respond as a customer service rep? Has Avis been listening to the ‘net to see what others are saying?

    Something that spurs customers to call and say they won’t rent until it is removed needs to be more closely looked into. While there are those of us who like the commercial, if customers are saying NO, it probably needs to go.

    Thanks for reading and leaving your point of view, Kris! 🙂

  17. Kris Seaboyer said

    Well, I fielded a call a few days ago from a woman who was very adamant that this commercial is both “degrading” and “obnoxious”. Now as we know, the customer is always right – far be it for me as a customer service rep to disagree with the customer’s opinion – but I personally thought that ads “you either love or hate” wind up being more controversial than they’re worth. That said however, there’s really nothing degrading about this ad. Like most commercials, it’ll have its run and be replaced, but some customers will think it’s due to their complaint.

    No doubt when the ad agency made the commercial, they had no way of knowing it would cause the uproar that it did. Hey, it’s a cute concept. But we can’t gauge what the commercial will do in real life. Run as many focus groups as you want, but once it’s on TV it’s out there and public reaction follows.

    To be honest, I have no way of knowing how many customers are “turned off” by the ad, but it would certainly seem that for every call we get complaining about the ad, we likely have a hundred people that speak with their wallets and don’t rent with us.

    As a customer service agent, I can also tell you that we log our calls and that complaints do get sent to management.

  18. Belinda said

    I’m late to this post, so I’m not sure if anyone will read it, but it’s worth a try. The commercial was slightly annoying but certainly would not alienate me from a company. However, the horrible customer service that seems completely imbedded at Avis certainly will. My company recently changed to Avis as a preferred provider and as such, I have rented four times in 40 days – from three different cities. The first two poor experiences were in Denver, so I thought maybe there was just a problem at that location. Then I had it again in Orlando, and again in Indianapolis. This can’t be a coincidence.

  19. Kris, sorry to be so late in my response to you! You are right; for each customer that complains, many others just walk and are never heard from again. It is good to hear that complaints get sent to management from the call center; let’s hope Avis management was listening to its customers.

    Belinda, thanks for chiming in! On the internet, you are never late, as posts last forever. 😉 You have hit the nail on the head. Whatever a company’s marketing looks (or sounds) like, it is ultimately customer service that will make it or break it for the customer. When there is a poor customer experience in more than one Avis location, that is an indicator of a more systemic problem.

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