5 essential technology tips for Fleet businesses

At Byng, we build new online revenue channels, customer services and systems that improve internal processes for businesses. We specialise in intermediated industries such as travel, insurance, lending, banking, publishing, utilities and shipbroking - where a good web and mobile offering provides a strong competitive edge to businesses that embrace technology.

We've gathered a few tips for fleet businesses, on how to make the most out of web and mobile tech.

This is based on experience working for companies such as Virgin Atlantic, PayPoint, TD Direct Investing and Allianz.

Tip one: Have clear and measurable objectives for everything you build

It’s not good enough to say “I’m building a new website because I want to look more modern” or “I’m building a mobile app, because I need to catch up with my competitors”. Project success rests upon clearer objectives. Most outward facing technology is about three things: customer acquisition, conversion and retention. Here are some clearer objectives:

Why should I build a website?

Because I want to acquire more customers, and I’ll do this by being clear about what services I offer, create landing pages to capture potential leads and offer content that builds a better profile of my business, compared to my competitors.

Why should I build an app that allows my customers to book a service for their vehicle?

Because by providing an easier, seamless service through an app, I can bring down the admin costs to maintain a customer...and at the same time, offer a premium service - allowing my business to undercut the competition and increase the probability of retaining customers in the long run.

Furthermore, without having clear objectives, it’s not possible to measure how successful your projects have been. ‘Looking more modern’ is totally subjective and ‘catching up with competitors’ is fluffy to say the least (plus it’s a better strategy to try and leap ahead).

We recently wrote an article that looks at this subject in more depth. 

Tip two: your tech should never be in stasis

It is dangerous to cease developing / evolving your web and mobile offering in a competitive environment. New services and propositions are quickly eroded by challengers and changing conditions. To keep ahead of the competition and embrace industry changes, it’s necessary to keep investing in the digital aspects of your business, by running a roadmap that’s flexible enough to accommodate new strategies.

Example: Addison Lee versus Uber

Addison Lee had a fleet of 4,500 London taxis (2014) and significant share of the £3 Billion London taxi market. Since the 1990’s, they invested heavily in digital client services, including consumer apps to hail taxis to a location. Like Uber, drivers are self employed - although Addison Lee owns it’s own cabs. There are many reasons why there has been a switch in positions, but part of Addison Lee’s misfortune can be chalked down to not evolving its taxi booking app at the time.

When launched, Uber came with some clever means of acquiring customers (through the app) that allowed them to explode. Viral features such as user discounts for converting new customers, scanning your credit / debit card (rather than manually inputting card details) and a quick setup for onboarding drivers have had an impact on Addison Lee’s ability to attract and retain consumers.

Had Addison Lee continued to evolve its mobile application and not been as reliant on tele bookings, they may have been able to staunch the attrition of non-business customers (however, the pure tech nature of the Uber’s model would have been hard to compete against).

Tip three: Learn from ‘lean’

There are established ways to manage risk, when building new digital services and products. Let’s assume we are about to build the vehicle service booking app in tip one. Here are some scenarios that should be avoided:

  1. Customers don’t adopt the product (or parts of it)
  2. The cost of the project overruns the budget
  3. The project takes ages and the product is shipped late and is out of date

We can reduce the risk in all areas by the way the product is delivered. You may have heard of ‘lean’ methodology (where the core idea is to deliver products with maximum customer value and minimum waste). By lean, we mean starting small, growing the product by building new features / shipping it in short intervals, and constantly testing the success of each new feature of the product (with users).

Why start small?

Starting small forces those involved in the project to focus on the most important components of the product, rather than a ballooning wishlist of features. By releasing a focussed first version, the customer is likely to get something which meets their biggest needs and is easy to pick-up. From a business perspective, starting small means going to market quicker, having better visibility on costs and allows pivots in the product if customer adoption is not as expected.

Growing the product by building new features / shipping it in short intervals

Tip two, discussed the importance of not leaving your tech in stasis. We mentioned some key business benefits, including the ability to accommodate industry changes and competition. From a non strategic perspective, it’s also a monumental pain to change a project in the middle of its delivery (this usually requires recutting plans, cost estimates projected delivery dates etc).

Furthermore, releasing new features in short intervals provides an opportunity to keep customers engaged and upsell.

Testing the success of each new feature of the product

Every feature of the product at all stages in the product roadmap should be testable, to see whether it’s a success with customers. By building and testing, it allows unsuccessful features to be snuffed out quickly and reduces the risk of poor adoption or attrition. There are various tools available to test the efficacy product features (including, customised Google Analytics suite, Optimizely, Mixpanel are all examples).

Tip four: The value of your tech, is more than the ‘sum of the parts’

It is likely that your business includes a collection of different technology solutions, each playing a unique role. For example a CRM (handling customer data), an accounting package, a CMS (managing your website), some specific fleet software solutions (for managing fleet operations) and perhaps a customer app or portal providing an outward facing service.

Linking such systems together adds value through faster automated processes which avoid human errors (such as manually inputting information and data getting lost between departments). Better reporting is made possible as more information is captured and surfaced (allowing for more informed decisions to be made).

Integration isn’t limited internally. There are obvious benefits for some business to integrate with external partner systems, such as the DVLA or Experian.

Tip five: Access your customers in all places at all times

Modern web and mobile technologies mean that it’s much easier to access customers (or potential customers) in all places at all times. There no excuse for having a non-mobile optimised site now (especially as Google will punish your search rankings).

The benefits of building digital tools and services for your customers also means potentially breaking away from the shackles of a territory. This was the case with a client of ours, Oakam (who used to be a high street loans business exclusively). By building a digital service offering focussed on mobile, they were able to decouple from bricks and mortar, and build a nationwide business quickly and successfully.

 

Some additional thoughts you might like to read:

Our Survey of the Fleet Industry

https://www.byng.co/thought/post/2016/01/19/fleet-digital-overview

A Mobile strategy to maximise profitability in fleet

https://www.byng.co/thought/post/2015/11/17/fleet-management-mobile