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Sixt Finds RFID Is Key to Improving Customer Service

The global car rental company has deployed the technology at about 200 branches to identify the locations of car keys, thereby reducing customers' waiting times and automating the collection of data related to when the vehicles are returned.
By Claire Swedberg

Finally, at some branches, RFID readers are installed in trays containing keys of newly cleaned cars. When workers or subcontractors finish washing a vehicle for the next rental, they place that car's key in a chute that sends it to the Sixt office, where it lands in a tray to be returned to a drawer at the sales counter. An M6 reader at that location interrogates the key fob's tag ID number, and Vilant software on the reader transmits the data to Sixt's car rental management software, thereby updating the vehicle's status as ready for renting, as well as indicating in which specific tray its key is located.

At the sales counter, if a customer requests a specific car, a representative can search for that vehicle in the rental management software. He or she can then view whether the car is available, as well as where the keys are located, based on the RFID data.

In some instances, customers lose key fobs. For that reason, Sixt has several Zebra Technologies ZD500R RFID printers—typically, one printer at each geographical region to provide additional tags.

Boone says he has been happy with the technology, in part because employees at the 200 locations have been happy. "I'm very satisfied," he states. "The happiness of the employees at the branch has a positive impact on customer satisfaction."

Just as important, Boone reports, the system has reduced the number of customer complaints by 30 percent, since most complaints relate to a dispute regarding the time at which the agency documented the vehicle's return. By automating the collection of vehicle return times, the company has reduced the incidence of customer complaints

In the future, Boone says, newly opened Sixt branches will be equipped with the RFID technology required for key tracking, while the company is also experimenting with the use of RFID tags on the vehicles themselves. "There's quite an interesting use case for parking management," he says, adding that RFID could be used to record the specific space in which each car has been parked. Such application, he notes, is still in an early testing phase.

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