Fleets have been venting their fury or singing suppliers’ praises as they review their best and worst recent experiences with manufacturers and leasing companies in the past month.
Good experiences include suppliers driving demonstrators 60 miles to personally deliver them to potential customers or goodwill gestures to help with sudden changes in car orders.
By contrast, the worst experiences include losing orders, slow response times, delayed deliveries and poor after sales service.
Fleets tend to highly rate the experiences where a supplier has ‘gone the extra mile’ in resolving an issue or avoiding problems occurring in the first place.
In one case, a leasing company re-negotiated the monthly contract hire rate for a prestige company car so that an employee could have her favourite choice of company car within her allowance threshold.
The fleet manager said: “We now have one very happy and motivated employee.”
There are several references to suppliers taking ownership of problems to get them resolved, rather than passing the buck.
This is particularly the case with leasing companies when it comes to resolving delays in vehicle deliveries.
One fleet said: “One of our lease providers has provided us with demo vehicles at no cost to cover delays with build times.”
Often, the way a supplier handles an issue can actually improve the way it is seen by customers and a key factor in this can be the commitment to ownership of a problem.
Another fleet operator said: “A driver had a problem with the car he ordered where the lead time kept being put back further and further until it reached seven months down the line.
“The leasing company offered the driver a full tank of fuel upon delivery and £100 in gift vouchers, which the driver was over the moon with.”
Fleets point out that the answer to great customer service isn’t rocket science, it is just putting the customer first and ensuring they are happy.
One fleet executive summed the issue up when he said: “I rang up, they listened to the problem, explained what they were going to do and did exactly what they had promised. They also kept me up to date, which is just what I wanted.”
Sadly, not all communication with customers can be as successful and fleets have identified some of the most challenging issues they have faced recently.
Negative issues often relate to poor communication and a short-term focus on revenue rather than building a long-term – and ultimately more profitable – relationship.
Manufacturer delays are one of the most common complaints from fleets, especially if they are unexpected, which will lead to difficult conversations with drivers and managers, along with unwanted costs for replacement vehicles.
Damage recharges are also a consistent thorn in the side of fleets, particularly if they feel they are not getting any support in trying to solve the issue.
The key to resolving the problem in many cases is to ensure that fleets feel they are being listened to.
In some cases, fleets feel that potential suppliers are just holding meetings for the sake of it to meet their weekly quota, as there is no follow-up and the contact can’t be reached.
In others, when they really need to talk to someone, there is no-one there to help.
One fleet operator agreed saying: “You ring up, get passed from pillar to post and no-one takes ownership. You just have to keep on repeating the story until you find the right person.”
Another added: “I recently had a case where the leasing company should have delivered a car to an employee. Instead, they left him sitting in a garage for over four hours.”
Poor service can put more than schedules at risk, as one fleet revealed how it had to fight to get a brake failure fixed by a dealer.
The fleet manager said: “There was a complete non-acceptance that a van had severe brake issues. The dealer explained several times that there was no problem and said we should collect the van. The driver even had to video the brake pedal going straight to the floor to make the point.
“The van was off the road for four weeks as a result until the issue was finally resolved.