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Arval: Looking to the future

Date: 04 March 2016   |   Author:

Arval secured the well-deserved title of Editor's Choice in our latest BusinessCar Techies Awards after racking up highly commended ratings for its fleet management software and coming runner-up with its Mobile+ app.

What makes the company all the more notable outside its sophisticated apps and Reporting Suite fleet management hub, is the fact that, following its merger with GE, it is set to leap up the BusinessCar BC50 table of the UK's biggest leasing companies, and should stand side by side with Leaseplan, but behind Lex Autolease, to fight over the number two spot with a fleet size of around 145,000 units.

Key to Arval's success in the technology field has been innovation, says Peter Leavy, the company's senior product manager: "In terms of all the tools that we've been developing, the focus has been not just about right now, but about the future.

So, in everything that we're developing it's making sure we have a solid foundation that we can very quickly develop upon and deliver new and increasingly innovative tools for our customers."

These tools include the tablet-optimised Arval Reporting Suite - which collates fleet information in one place, and enables fleet managers to view three-year data snapshots, helping them to analyse long-term trends and see where cost savings are possible - and the Mobile+ app, which displays users' fleet policy details, lists fuel, service and maintenance sites, allows users to book services, and provides direct access to Arval staff, in a clear, straightforward format.

What sets the company's software apart from rivals, according to Leavy, is how Arval has united numerous different functions within its software.

"Rather than looking at individual aspects in isolation, we're trying to bring it all together to have a complete customer package that also has a focus for their drivers," says Leavy. This includes one-click access to core information for fleet managers and users alike, all around the mantra that "service is critical", he states.

Functions developed to offer a greater level of service include being able to view long-term data onscreen, says corporate sales director Andrew Fuller. "What this enables fleet managers to do is very easily take into a meeting their current fleet picture based on whatever historic period they need and get stakeholder buy-in to whatever plan they might have."

This means that rather than have to request "old-fashioned" reports, fleet managers "can just walk their iPad into the room and do it from there", Fuller adds.

Mobile+, meanwhile, now offers greater functionality with integrated telematics, so that if a fleet takes the service its drivers can monitor their data and make HMRC-compliant mileage claims, "which is pretty unique in terms of a fleet offering", says Leavy.

Explaining the value of this, Leavy continues: "The feedback we've had from customers and drivers is that in order to be HMRC-compliant in recording business against private mileage there's a massive admin drain on the driver's and customer's admin time, so being able to integrate it within an app so the driver has one-touch approval for claims, [and] can send it through, and the customer gets all the reporting they need - that's a massive benefit to our customers."

Also integrated into the app is the ability for users to monitor their driver behaviour scores, rating how safe and efficient they are behind the wheel, along with live traffic and weather updates to help drivers budget enough time for work trips. Tying into the app's customer and user focus, Arval prides itself on how its app directs users straight to the relevant department, without the long-winded customer service call centre format of many other businesses, according to Leavy.

"One of the unique aspects of the app is that it's integrated to make sure that the driver gets through to the right point of contact first time," Leavy states. "We have customers that have different fleet policies, so those fleet policies are integrated into the app, so that if a driver needs a breakdown service it goes through to the relevant point of contact the first time."

Dedicated account teams

Arval's unusual set-up sees fleet customers having their own account team allocated - with fleet managers able to contact specific specialists who sit around the same table - depending upon what service they need, rather than having to deal with separate teams located across the company. "We've been very innovative in terms of the way we build our customer service teams around our customers, not around any internal needs," says Fuller.

"Arval account teams effectively circle customers with every single part of the driver and customer journey that they need on one desk," Fuller continues. Explaining the principle behind this, he says that customers can have a dedicated vehicle-ordering specialist allocated to them, along with a technical specialist and someone who can deal with any broken down vehicles for instance, with all these experts sat around one desk and able to easily communicate together, rather than being located in numerous, disparate teams.

"It's gone down really, really well," Fuller adds. "The key is that you don't have to go off to another department. Historically, this is how leasing companies are structured. With ours you can sit at the desk."

Appealing to your inner gamer

Another Arval app that has caught many users' attention is Drive Challenge, which rates drivers on howsafely and economically they are driving, letting them publicly compete for the highest scores.

"I think what [the development of this app] encouraged was a kind of fun competition between individuals because it was giving drivers different scores and we have leader boards and prizes driven a lot through our social media sites," states Leavy.

Aimed at boosting safety and lowering fuel costs, it is the competitive element that encouraged greater uptake of the app - facilitated by it being free to anyone, whether they have an Arval-supplied vehicle or not - Leavy says, with individual teams fighting for app supremacy. Another incentive came in the form of being able to win use of a Volvo V40 for four months, he adds.


Arval is also working on Active Link - a new telematics proposition that is integrated into the company's mobile phone app, with a one-touch log-in - which aims to cut business costs and improve driver behaviour.

"It's at pilot stage at the moment with some customers and internal people," says Fuller. "So as far as the Arval fleet goes, we will have everybody on Active Link." This means that before long all Arval vehicles could be fitted with telematics kit, although Fuller is keen to stress that it will be up to individual fleets as to whether this technology is activated or not.

The new system can be activated across entire fleets or just certain segments, encouraging safer driving, helping to understand fuel spend, keeping tabs on servicing requirements and any accidents, theft or fraudulent vehicle use - all while ensuring that vehicles aren't likely to exceed contractual limits.

Optional modules also enable fleet managers to monitor user routing in real time and manage pool car use.

Helping to simplify life for users and fleet managers alike, the system can benchmark economy across vehicles, analyse fuel spend, and automatically log accurate private/business-mileage expense claims for HMRC purposes alongside integration with the Mobile+ app. Arval can also study Active Link data to determine whether individual drivers could benefit from targeted driver training to improve safety or address fuel economy concerns.

New salary sacrifice scheme

Arval has also developed a new salary exchange scheme called Arval Ignition. The company has had "significant interest from existing customers, the Arval Group and the BNP Paribas group" to date, claims Fuller, "and will be focusing very much on our existing customer base to start with".
Arval will be focusing more on mobility overall in future, Fuller continues, saying: "Salary sacrifice is going to be big for us and that's within a wider mobility solutions agenda."