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New Leaseplan strategy puts the customer first

Date: 13 April 2017   |   Author: James Richardson

It's one of the largest leasing and fleet management companies in the country, with one of the broadest and most diverse customer bases around. Leaseplan is responsible for managing 185,000 vehicles across the UK - 128,000 cars and 57,000 commercial vehicles - and with its new Engage Centre strategy, the firm is shaking up the leasing industry with a fresh approach that puts the driver first.

According to Matt Dyer, Leaseplan UK's managing director, company car drivers are increasingly becoming key decision-makers and the industry has neglected them in favour of those slightly higher up the food chain. He said that improving the firm's driver customer service is "absolutely fundamental" to the company's future plans and that he wants to "elevate and improve" the level of customer service that drivers are being afforded.

In terms of customer loyalty - by which we mean the big corporate clients - it's very much on the up, but Dyer is determined to instill a similar level of loyalty among those who drive its cars too - "we want them to be thinking about how great the experience is for them, having a company car, or being part of a salary-sacrifice scheme managed by Leaseplan".

But how is it going to achieve this? What makes the Engage Centre strategy different from the previous customer service approach? For starters, the company is investing a lot in digital technology to improve the customer experience. Digitising the business is a key element and "elevating the role of the driver, and particularly to do that with the use of strong digital tools".

"Our Engage strategy is about driving digital change and it's very much in tune with our strategy to inspire our customers to love leasing with us," said Dyer. This involves enhancing and upgrading the company's mobile app, its bespoke web portal for the variety of fleets that it manages, and better web technology to enhance the user experience for the customer. These feature alongside the firm's more established online quoting and ordering tools.

In general, according to Dyer at least, people are more likely to log queries and complaints digitally, rather than by phone these days, thanks partly to the increase in the availability of digital communication methods, but also because people just don't have the necessary time these days to commit to a telephone call - especially during work hours.

He also thinks people are more confident in being able to resolve issues themselves with online instructions, saying "people are perhaps confident enough to receive the advice through websites, through portals. They don't necessarily want to have to phone in and get the direction themselves."

Currently, 85% of eligible drivers use these digital tools, too. That's not to say that phone-in queries are being neglected, however, as Dyer said phone calls are being answered in an average of six seconds, while the company is also seeing "great results" in terms of first-time resolution to problems that are logged. He went on to say it's important that Leaseplan "is learning that we have to move at their pace. It's not fair of us to expect them to move at our pace."

Dyer also thinks SMEs - which are responsible for nearly 16 million jobs in the UK - have a key role to play as it's an area where, in the past Leaseplan hasn't been as involved as it otherwise could have been. It wants to take some of the stresses of fleet management away from SMEs, in order to make them more productive in terms of their core business, and for Leaseplan to "really support small business with regards to the productivity they need to achieve from their drivers and from the owner/operators that are making decisions in their business".

This new Engage Centre strategy is being rolled out gradually, however, with the process having started late last year, and it will be fully operational in the second half of this year, according to Dyer: "It's a big process - we've got over 180,000 drivers and customers we're managing."

Even at this early stage, though, the strategy is winning awards, with Janine Lemon, performance improvement manager, being recognised with an award for her work  at the recent BVRLA awards.

Dyer is also confident the new strategy will be beneficial for the company's employees, as well as its customers. "We now have an opportunity for our colleagues who are working in this area to really be responding to a whole range of requests," he said, and that "ultimately it will give them more experience and probably a more fulfilling role down
the line."

However, it's the driver that the scheme is aimed at and Dyer is targeting an experience akin to what those drivers would receive in a retail environment: "I think the absolute expectation is that we deliver an experience to our drivers that is at least on a par with, if not better than other areas, other services and retail experiences."