A privately held full-service fleet management business that manages over 400,000 vehicles sought to improve their customers’ experience by capturing and consistently leveraging customer preference information for leases, vehicles, and ancillary services, including details regarding the contract, vehicle categories and options, billing, maintenance, and much more. The company operates more than 55 fully staffed offices nationwide and leases cars to government entities and companies with medium-sized fleets (20 or more vehicles) for one-to five-year contracts based on anticipated usage.
These contracts and leases involved a variety of business processes, such as accounting, sales, and maintenance, among others. In the current state, a customer might have to repeat the same information when moving from a sales-related inquiry to a question for the maintenance department, which was understandably frustrating.
The company needed an application to store and manage this information and streamline their clients’ interactions with the company. Capturing and mirroring customer preferences, and have it automatically carried over into multiple business processes, regardless of which portion of the business they were interacting with, would ensure a consistent customer experience. From an internal perspective, the staff would have access to client information collected by any department, making it easier for them to deliver a positive customer service experience
Solution and Methodology
Sense Corp delivered a customer preference application that captures customer preferences and integrates the information with two applications supporting core operational processes, thereby transforming and streamlining the customer experience.
Phase 1—Deliver Interim Application to Provide Immediate Value
First, within four weeks, we developed a proof-of-concept customer preference OutSystems form application. This interim application proved to be valuable with both business and field users, which confirmed that the application was useful and provided staff with a tool to begin capturing and using customer preference information while the end solution was still in development.
Phase 2—Build on Successes of Interim Application to Create Permanent, Scalable Solution
In this phase, we used many of the user interface concepts that were piloted in the original OutSystems application to create a more structured and scalable solution using the technologies that the fleet management company supports. With a different data model, the final application was designed to be easily maintained and supported, and thus received overwhelming support from the company’s technical architects and IT staff.
Once the permanent form was in use and we had discontinued the interim solution, we developed the integrations that tied the new customer preference app to existing tools that the company uses. These integrations included 25 reference-only links along with 30 direct integrations that prepopulated default values, providing significant time savings by reducing data entry steps, and for fields that weren’t prepopulated, we provided additional information and FAQ to facilitate ease of use.
The primary components of the architecture included:
- J2EE/Java – A platform-independent programming solution for building and deploying Web-based enterprise applications online. The J2EE platform consists of a set of services, APIs, and protocols that provide the functionality for developing multi-tiered, Web-based applications. This project used Java 8.
- Java Spring – A comprehensive programming and configuration model for modern Java-based enterprise applications. The Spring framework aims to help structure whole applications in a consistent, productive manner, pulling together best-of-breed single-tier frameworks to create a coherent architecture. This project used Spring Boot 1.5.6.
- Hibernate – An object-relational mapping tool for Java. It uses HQL (Hibernate Query Language), which provides support for object-oriented concepts, and its code is database independent, meaning it’s easy to migrate to new databases. This project used Hibernate JPA 2.1.
- Tomcat – An application server that executes Java servlets and renders Web pages that include JSP coding. Tomcat offers functionality as a lightweight application with an extensive suite of built-in customization.
Sense Corp built the new customer preference website with AngularJS, coupled with a REST-based web service using the Java Spring framework. The new website handles authentication (through the API), views, and session storage. The new website API uses a REST-based web service to read customer hierarchy data from EDGE and use Hibernate to return hierarchy data to the application.
Information captured included:
- General customer preferences –captures information regarding acquisition, lease extensions, citations, fuel cards, and insurance, among others.
- Vehicle Categories – allows user to categorize the various types of vehicles in a customer’s fleet (e.g. service vehicle or management vehicle)
- Usage – captures information on how the vehicle is used (e.g. business or personal; off-road driving; towing capacity; temporary tags), which informs risk, licensing and titling, and insurance
- Options – allows the user to build vehicle specifications, including interior, exterior, number of keys, navigation, Bluetooth, etc.
- AME – captures aftermarket preferences for fleet vehicles, including graphics, ladder racks, tool boxes, preferred vendors, upholstery, etc.
- Quoting – records billing or capping of expenses, pricing plan exceptions, how drivers are assigned, or, when the actual gain is different from the estimated gain, whether to refund excess or apply excess to invoice
- License and Title – includes garage state and plate type, method for expensing license and title; address to send plates
- Maintenance – records whether vehicle is a full maintenance product, what to do if vehicle reaches contract mileage before lease term, and sales department notes
- Telematics – records fleet management company telematics, as well as the provider, billing account number, default shipping address, plan, and accessories
Sense Corp delivered a solution that enables the company to become more customer-centric by capturing important customer information and distributing it across multiple business processes. By doing so, customers preferences and needs aren’t overlooked or ignored, and they receive a consistent level of service regardless of the department they’re working with. Through improved accuracy and efficiency of customer service, this application saves customers’ time and effort and decreases frustration.
Ultimately, the application improves customer satisfaction and loyalty, which in turn translates into repeat business, positive client referrals, and increased revenue for the fleet management company.
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