By Angela Montacute, CEO of Digital INNK
The fleet industry isn’t immune to the digital transformation that is affecting all parts of society. The pandemic has accelerated this long-term trend with a tremendous investment into data and digital platforms that better connect customers to service providers.
However, the automotive sector is at risk of trailing drivers’ expectations of how they deal with their fleet operators. Research from Salesforce found that 80% of people consider the experience a company provides to be as important as its products and services.
While technology research organisation Gartner found that customers have embraced digital and prefer DIY service, using online resources and information to solve their own problems.
There is a clear commercial benefit for companies that invest in this area. Forbes reported that 84% of consumers are more inclined to do business with organisations that offer self-service options, while American business guru Dan Pena said: “The best form of customer service is self-service. Constantly empower customers to get their own answers themselves.”
It is still not unusual for a fleet driver to have to contact a call centre to book a service or schedule a vehicle collection. It’s not only an expensive way to resource the interaction for the fleet, but, as the data shows, it’s out of step with customer demands.
Every fleet operator should be aware that their end-users measure them against Amazon and other leading online retailers. Service is intuitive, and most problems can be solved at the click of a button online or on a mobile app.
The development of the ViSN platform started with insight into the driver. By understanding the interactions through the life of the vehicle, technology can be used to improve the experience at each stage of the process.
Technology enables drivers to serve their needs in real-time and improve compliance procedures by creating a digital record of all interactions.
A direct digital connection with the driver also allows value to be added throughout the life of the vehicle. Up to the minute information on EV charging can be shared to make the adoption of EV vehicles easier. At the same time, secure payment technology can make life safer for consumers.
While a website is a great first step for a driver portal, a well-designed mobile app is substantially faster in performing tasks. Unlike webpages, which use web servers to store data, apps often save data locally on mobile devices. As a result, data retrieval in mobile apps is much faster.
Apps also save time by remembering preferences and taking proactive measures. For users on the front end of mobile apps, this creates a more enjoyable user experience.
Building customer loyalty comes from providing a high quality of service and, increasingly, a personalised customer experience. The advantage of using digital platforms to facilitate customer service is that it generates data that can be easily accessed and used to improve every part of the business.
There is also a direct benefit to the reduction of operating costs by the digitalisation of many parts of fleet operations. Whether it is booking a service or new tyres, drivers can be connected to approved suppliers without the need to contact a call centre. Work can be automatically authorised within agreed parameters. The efficiency savings are clear.
Arguably the most effective form of marketing comes from delivering excellent service. Customers are more willing to purchase, refer to a friend, join a loyalty club, or submit a favourable review if marketers focus on building their trust.
As technology continues to improve, self-service will become more relevant, helpful, and powerful as customer support systems become smarter. It will free up customer-facing personnel to spend more time undertaking proactive, success-oriented tasks that will help drive the business forward.
While it's evident that today's consumers have more expectations than ever before, there has never been more opportunity to add value to the relationship.