Stakeholder: Jo Miles

6 August 2013
Leaseplan provides fleet management services and manages around 1.3 million vehicles worldwide. LeasePlan UK provides in excess of 130,000 vehicles to UK customers from multinationals to SMEs. Customer service is a key area, as a business which outsources a lot of our front line service delivery, having a supply base that is aligned to the needs of our customers and drivers is essential. My role is to ensure we meet the needs of our customers and drivers across the range of services we supply. It’s fair to say that we have been on a journey over the past 18 months, changing the relationship between customer experience and procurement and supplier management. While service was always considered an important element of supplier delivery, we have changed the focus, making it a critical performance metric equalling other traditional metrics such as cost. Our starting point was the creation of a shared vision drawn up between teams with a view to improving our slightly adversarial approach. Our procurement team, led by Neil Dixon, and the customer experience area created a view of ‘what good looks like’. This included a mixture of tangible service metrics (delivery time within two hours, text confirmation sent upon booking) and softer measures (Do we provide drivers with information when they need it? How does it feel when a service goes well/badly?) This required an in-depth look at our processes and policies, but most importantly engagement with our end customers to understand what they consider to be most important. Hearing the views of our drivers through focus groups carried significant weight and helped to connect our supplier managers with the end customers they serve. This vision and detailed review allowed us to set joint objectives focusing on improving customer service. This was combined with LeasePlan’s ‘language of service’ and was included in our supplier KPIs. It’s vital that the links between my team and procurement and supplier management are consistently maintained. Not only have we seen the results in terms of increased customer satisfaction and loyalty scores, there are also benefits for employees. Our customer service teams now have a clear escalation route for issues; supplier managers ‘feel the heat’ from our customers and can take quick action to resolve problems. We ensure we obtain regular customer feedback and work with our supplier managers together to recommend actions and celebrate improvements. The focus has shifted from cost to service and it’s no coincidence that we won the Fleet News ‘customer service award’ in 2013 on the back of this approach. Things may still go wrong occasionally, but we get together to find solutions rather than blame each other and this leads to faster, better solutions. What has helped deliver change?
  1. Getting senior management buy-in has been essential to drive the cultural changes needed to better align the two departments, but it’s the teams that deliver the change day in and day out.
  2. Cultural alignment between teams is essential, but this takes time and effort to do. The investment from both sides is, however, worth the effort.
  3. Understanding each other’s objectives better and that procurement is not all about cost. We actually want the same thing, but we may not have been going about it in the same way.
  4. Keep revisiting the basics – don’t assume that you’ve said it once and it’s fully understood.
  5. Don’t assume that people know what great service looks like. Be prepared to challenge and to be challenged back.
  6. Enjoy the journey and all its twists and turns.
☛ Jo Miles is head of customer experience at LeasePlan UK
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