Fleet business currently accounts for about €25 billion of fuel card providers' revenue, making customer retention extremely important, but there is massive opportunity for expansion.
According to Datamonitor, in its 'Card Services for European Fleet Managers' report, despite many fuel card services being highly valued, under 50% of fleet managers across Europe make use of them. A total of 225 fleet managers across Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK were quizzed about their fuel card preferences and the take-up rates of 10 services.
Out of those, 20% were not sure of the services available, making it clearly evident, says the report, that communication is poor and the current offerings are failing to meet fleet managers' needs.
Report author and oil analyst Christina See said: 'Furthermore, 30% of fleet managers indicate they will have switched their fuel card supplier by 2005. The only fuel card service that holds sway across all fleet segments is that of vehicle specific summaries. These issues need to be addressed quickly given the additional discontentment resulting from current fuel price rises.'
Most companies planning to change supplier cite price as the main reason for doing so, although at least 19% indicate they would switch for a better service, and 8% for a better network coverage.
See said: 'By providing services that customers value and use, fuel card suppliers can minimise customer switching and related costs and are more likely to acquire a broader customer base.'
The report found that vehicle specific summaries and analysis was the only service to be valued highly across all segments, with 77% of fleet managers valuing it and 76% actually using it.
The report found that services are more valuable for smaller companies with one to 20 vehicles, where the fleet may represent a larger proportion of a firm's operational expenditure, or for larger companies where there is a dedicated fleet manager with time to assess all of the services available.
It adds that fleet managers responsible for 51 to 100 vehicles would simply prefer the cheapest price and clear basic reporting services that work well with their internal systems.
See said: 'Fuel card suppliers need to understand which services are valued and by whom, in order to improve return on investment. Fleet managers value the services that provide them with key management information to react to, as opposed to services that require extensive proactive target setting, such as separate tailoring of services permissible for each card, or the setting of target fuel prices.
'By taking steps to amend the service offering, greater return on investment can be achieved by suppliers, despite many services being undervalued and not used by more than 50% of fleets.'