LEASING: It's not enough being good
17 July 2007
It's a grand ambition but David Brennan, LeasePlan's MD, is aiming for greatness when it comes to raising the quality of the company's customer service, writes Tristan Young
David Brennan, LeasePlan's managing director, is in the enviable position of running the UK's third largest fleet firm with a free hand.
He explains: "We've beaten our financial business targets [set by bosses in Europe] in the past two years and expect to do the same this year, therefore we are left to run the business."
With this freedom Brennan is focussing his efforts on bringing UK-leading levels of customer service to his company, a phase of development he's called 'From Good to Great'.
He explains: "It's a mature market in the UK; the growth is in outsourcing, which creates opportunities for us. Outsourcing done properly is different to straight contract hire," which is where, according to Brennan, great customer service wins new business and keeps existing clients.
"We have two sides to our business: the drivers and the fleet managers. For the drivers we need systems to deliver service. Drivers experience other retail situations - holidays, shopping - then they order their car.
"That's why we're taking on people from outside the industry - Shell, Phillips, BT. We're getting a richer mix of talent."
The firm has also changed the way it measures success for both its driver and fleet manager operations.
"We're looking at the psychology of service and how to deal with a client. We've just had a record year in client and staff satisfaction. It's no surprise that if you've got happy staff you get happy customers. In fact, we've stopped measuring client satisfaction and started measuring loyalty. We also measure process failure: every Wednesday we look at all processes - what's going wrong and what needs fixing."
Brennan adds: "Other industries give better service than us in the leasing industry. And we've got a far more complex product."
LeasePlan believes the best way to convince fleet managers that it's a good outsourcing firm is to instil trust.
"We're in a good place for that," begins Brennan, who is entering the company into customer service awards that are open to all UK industries, to prove its worth against the best in the country, "because we have the scale and the knowledge." LeasePlan's total fleet size currently stands at 130,000 vehicles with 118,500 residual risk exposed.
The 'From Good to Great' plan is being run across LeasePlan.
Brennan says: "We put the onus on staff and ask what will make your team great. We also get teams to rate each other." All 120 teams list their best and worst team to work with and explain why they reached that decision. They are then told how they fared and given a list of why they are liked and why they aren't.
In this way Brennan says "we'll get our customer service from good to great in five years - but I'm hoping it's possible in three".