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22 March 3 2011 fleetnews.co.uk Specialist teams strive to deliver tailored products and services to small businessesBy Gareth Robertsrval aims to provide a hassle-free experience for its SME customers, recognising that they don't necessarily have a lot of time or resource to deal with their fleet. Its SME team is currently working with more than 3,000 small fleet customers and around 32,000 fuelcard customers. Working so closely with so many smaller fleets means that the company has developed an excellent under­standing of the best ways to serve them and provide the support they need. Mike Curtis, head of SME at Arval, says: "We support a large number of small businesses and so understand that they have different needs, priorities and ways of working to some of our larger customers. "To effectively support these customers, it is essential Arval takes the strain for its SME customersAto have specialist teams delivering tailored products and services which is where our SME division comes into its own."Arval says it doesn't have a typical SME customer as the businesses it works with vary widely in terms of their needs and their marketplaces. As a result, it aims to provide vehicle funding and vehicle management products and services that are as effective and relevant to the sole trader with one van as they are to the blue chip company with a fleet of 50.Curtis says: "You can't generalise about SMEs because they vary widely in their fleet set-up and requirements. "As a consequence, Arval provides a full range of prod­ucts and services that meet the varying needs of these different customers."The small business team at Arval is called SME Direct and was created to support SME customers with a fleet size up to 50 vehicles.Customers can expect a team of dedicated account managers that tailor Arval's products to its customers' needs. This includes leading telephony and contact management systems which ensure it can respond quickly and efficiently promoting first-time resolution."Most of our SME customers don't have a lot of time or 32,000Fuel card customers which Arval's SME team works with3,000+Small fleet customers which Arval's SME team works withFN50Arval are number four in 2010's FN50 listWinnerOf the safety award at the 2010 Fleet News Awards

resource to deal with their fleet," says Curtis. "As a result, we remove the hassle for them, provide support when it's required and resolve any issues quickly and effectively."Its customer sales team manages the life of the vehicle or fleet, with a contact strategy in place. Using its customer relationship management systems, Arval says it has visibility of all of its customers renewals, allowing it to not only notify them by phone, but to send email alerts at nine, six and three months enabling them to renew vehicles at a time that works for their business.Meanwhile, its telemarketing team says that having a wealth of knowledge ensures it is able to manage new prospect enquiries effectively, answering any questions that they have. Thereafter, the new business sales team specialises in meeting the initial vehicle sourcing requirements for new customers, offering best price, manufacturer offers and the best terms for their business, as well as the support to process their applications smoothly.When considering products and services, Arval recog­nises that its offering has to be fairly flexible, due to the diversity of its customer base.In the spotlight Arval fleetnews.co.uk March 3 2011 23As a result, it offers contract hire on any timescale over 24 months, on any mileage and with the option of Arval's full maintenance service, relief vehicles and its gap insur­ance product.It can also provide short-term flexible rental vehicles on a daily hire basis or reduce customer costs by providing a longer term mini-lease vehicle.Its account managers have day-to-day contact with vehicle manufacturers and dealership suppliers in order to keep ahead of any vehicle changes in the marketplace. The manufacturers provide regular training, product updates and opportunities for the team to become familiar with model ranges so that they have the most up-to-date knowledge, says Arval. This combined approach to product knowledge and training builds confidence in the services that its team sell, allowing it to provide knowledgeable advice to its customers, while strengthening relationships with its supplier network. Curtis says: "To best serve our small business customers, Arval has to work seamlessly with our dealer network and the manufacturers towards a common goal - the smooth, successful delivery of a new vehicle to a customer."A dedicated team of phone-based account managers is on hand to assist Arval's SME customers in getting the most out of their fuelcards. It provides customers with advice on optimising their fuel spend as well as equipping them with the tools to effectively manage it. There is a range of information, tools and tips on the Arval website which, combined with email and phone-based teams, provide a range of ways for its customers to make contact with the team. Meanwhile, for new SME customers or prospects, the company has another dedicated team so that if small businesses want to discuss their requirements or even if they need assistance completing their application form, the team is there to help.In addition, Arval provides online account management services that allow its SME customers to access their bills and invoices whenever they like. Arval says it understands that the focus for its customers is on running their businesses, not worrying about fuel, so the reporting suite allows its customers to see quickly and easily where their employees are purchasing fuel and where they may be able to make savings"For SMEs, now more than ever, their time is precious and they need to focus on their customers," says Graeme Good, head of SME Card at Arval. "The Arval fuelcard proposition supports small businesses in doing this through its broad, market-leading fuel network, saving businesses time and hassle because they are never far from a forecourt where they can use their card."Its phone-based team is dedicated to SMEs and is coached in understanding the priorities and business challenges that they face and how the Arval proposition can be of benefit. This, says Arval, provides its customers with immediate access to a dedicated, professional and knowledgeable team.Good adds: "With cashflow so critical to small businesses, the Arval fuelcard proposition helps SMEs to manage their cashflow and achieve savings through clear reporting on how much money a business is spending on fuel and where cost reductions can be made."Dedicated team serves fuelcard customers "Arval provides online account management services that allow its SME customers to access their bills and invoices whenever they like"Providing the best possible service A key strength of the Arval proposition lies in having the right people available to deal with each customer so they receive the best possible service. To support this, 2010 saw it begin a process of continuous improvement in educating and increasing the knowledge within its teams with the introduction of the Arval Sales Academy. This provides the company with an educational environment where all team members can study and are accredited on a regular basis. It also supports its team members through the official ICFM and NVQ qualifications.They also have a strong understanding of FSA regulations and the financial aspects of the business for both Arval and the customer. This, coupled with knowing the fleet industry and marketplace, has helped to ensure that whoever answers the telephone will be a confident fleet professional, who is able to give the best impartial advice on a number of subjects, says Arval. These strengths are all applied in its proactive approach to service improvement and in the day-to-day management of fleet vehicles for each and every Arval customer.