Arval's Smart move with digital services
13 February 2015
Smart Experience means the leasing company's services can be used on any device, as UK marketing and insurance director Robert Pieczka tells Tom Seymour
The iPad generation is well and truly here to stay. However hard you try, it's likely technology touches each part of your life, and it's a challenge for businesses to keep up with how fast everything is changing.
While some companies might introduce a single new idea, top five UK leasing company Arval completely overhauled its entire service offering last year, which led to it picking up the Innovation Award in the 2014 BusinessCar Techie Awards.
The company disposed of its fuel card business Allstar to FleetCor in late 2011, which helped pave the way for investment in preparation for growth, including migrating to a new IT system last year, as well as launching Smart Experience.
Smart Experience is made up of online tools, mobile apps, tablet-ready dashboards and social networks to provide the information fleet managers and drivers need on any device at any time.
Fleet management services Connect and Fleet View were launched first and these were followed by new driver apps, video reviews and a social media campaign.
The BNP Paribas-owned company launched Smart Experience in March 2014 to make its fleet services compatible and seamless across smartphones, tablets and desktops.
It's a top-to-bottom approach to make the company relevant to the way managers and drivers are interacting with services every day.
The suite of services is one of the reasons behind Arval pushing through a 100,000-vehicle risk fleet milestone towards the end of last year, with an increase of 1000 units a month during 2014, and on to a 6% market share in the leasing industry.
Robert Pieczka, the company's marketing and insurance director, says: "Technology is changing the way people access information. Our customers' needs werechanging rapidly and we needed to react to that."
The extra services through Smart Experience are free for Arval's customers and illustrate how much fleets expect of their leasing company.
It is no longer acceptable to just provide transport and leasing; companies need to provide additional support services to differentiate and improve levels of service.
Pieczka says Arval closely monitored overall trends in the market for smartphone and tablet use for accessing websites and services and that prompted the plan to overhaul the accessibility of its fleet management software.
When tablet penetration went over 50% in the UK, Pieczka knew the company needed to react.
He says: "We wanted to create something simple, and there's a huge amount of time pressure on fleet mangers or on staff taking on the duties of a fleet manager."
Smart Experience is intended to be an evolving project, which continues to launch new digital services and react to the way fleets are working in the digital age.
Arval tracks and analyses the way its services are being used, and while the desktop is still the lead platform in terms of how fleets are managing their vehicles, tablet use is catching up. The leasing company expects smartphone and tablet use to eventually overtake the desktop, mirroring what has already happened with overall web-browsing in the UK.
Pieczka says: "We have designed the way information is provided through Fleet View to give a high level of metrics for managers to view.
"But it's modular, so you can grant permissions and access to the finance teams, HR or procurement, and give them different levels of access.
"There is a trend for the fleet manager's role to be taken on by different members of staff in an organisation, so we wanted to design Fleet View to give an easy-to-read overview for anyone that might have access."
Benoit Dilly, Arval UK managing director, says: "Our customers are embracing Smart Experience positively. It helps benefit fleet managers and their drivers, and I think it's worked to give fleets a much more positive image of us overall."
To assess the difference the company is making to fleets in terms of the quality of its offering, Arval uses the Net Promoter Score system, which is based around whether clients would recommend their service. However, while the company was not able to share figures on customer service improvement, it asserted that the growth it saw last year is proof that the Smart Experience is having a positive impact on the business.