Last year was a time of unprecedented success for LeasePlan. For the first time in five years, all four of its business operations – Network, Fleetline, Automotive Leasing and LeasePlan – grew year-on-year, while a record 12 months for business wins saw 30 new accounts secured.
For managing director David Brennan it emphasised both the strength of the economy and LeasePlan’s business offering, although he also recognises that Automotive Leasing, which provides funding to the public sector, is slowing down as budget cuts start to bite.
Network, which serves smaller fleets via 100 broker partners, and Fleetline, the SME division, are the fastest growing. They account for just under 60,000 of Lease-Plan’s near-132,500 fleet.
Capping the achievements of 2010 was winning the Fleet News Award for customer service.
“We charge a slight premium for an improved service,” Brennan says of LeasePlan’s pricing policy. “We are not into commodity pricing – that’s not the future for this business.”
LeasePlan has account managers who focus on the operational relationships with fleets and account directors who take a more strategic view with customers.
Outsourced customers can make use of a driver service team, which handles all communications, while fleets who prefer to keep more of the operational aspects in-house work with the customer service team.
The focus is on having bespoke solutions for each type of fleet requirement. The role of LeasePlan’s employees is fundamental to its success.
Fleet News Arguably the most difficult part of outstanding customer service is getting buy-in from staff – but it’s also the most important. How did you achieve this?
David Brennan When I came to LeasePlan in 2006 we set out our five-year ‘good to great’ plan – a strong value proposition and great service every day.
Stage one was the engagement of staff. We told them where we are now, where we are going and how we are going to get there.
Each team in each department has its own action plan to become great. We set clear values for customer behaviour and we trained staff in the LeasePlan style of service.
Also, people’s bonuses are on the line – including the directors’. Customer satisfaction is a trigger point to the bonus box.
FN Handle a complaint well and you have a customer for life. But it’s best not to have them in the first place – how does LeasePlan minimise complaints?
DB Skyline is a weekly incident tool we took from Amazon. It identifies where the business is not delivering by looking at where customers are raising the questions, for example delivery times.
All our processes have tolerances and we look at the top three each week.
We also have customer, staff and supplier engagement programmes with trim scores that measure loyalty.
It determines whether drivers and customers are more or less loyal by asking them whether they would recommend us, rebuy from us and are delivering competitive advantage for their business. Each year, our projects focus on the areas of weakness.
FN How are customers’ expectations increasing?
DB Expectations have increased a lot. People expect more and they want to pay less.
Things that were differentiators in 2006 are now hygiene. People expect 100% accurate invoicing, great account managers and understanding of industry issues, such as electric vehicles.
Also, there are new areas of need, such as better accident management products. The challenge is to deliver greater service at a reduced cost.
FN How is this possible?
DB We look at all the variables – total cost and processes – and debate the brand of cars, admin set up, multiple suppliers and paper based working.
There is always something we can do and we can always present options to the customer. They may not do it, but there are parameters for us to advise on cost savings.