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THE FUTURE OF CRM: Exploiting the full potential of fleet data to foster B2B relationships with fleet managers

Thomas Ulbrich
10 Aug 2022

In our first blog series, we explored the status quo of Consumer Relationship Management (CRM) for OEMs and took a glimpse into the future.

In the coming years, CRM will be characterized by a central unit within global CRM hubs, car data integration, and innovative sales models with a strong focus on B2C clients. These predicted trends have held true. Consequently, those OEMs that anticipated the shift in daily operations have fared well; however, even many of these forward-thinking organizations have struggled to give B2B relationships the attention they deserve. Today, with the pace of change accelerating, many business leaders are beginning to rethink the ways they engage with clients.

With this in mind, we decided to make the pivotal subject of B2B and OEM relationships the theme of this CRM blog series. We will examine all the challenges and the many opportunities such a shift in focus presents for those prepared to embrace change. As part of this analysis, we will explore the impact of collected fleet data, how it is processed, and how it is used. We will also look at the emerging “consumerized” experience, a factor that aligns with the growing focus on customer-centricity now characterizing many, if not all industries. And finally, we will offer insight on how OEMs can build a strong foundation that enables them to tap into fleet data’s potential. Improving these core components will profoundly improve B2B relationships and establish a more immersive CRM.

B2B fleet managers become targets for OEMs finessing their CRM activities

CRM provides great opportunities for business customers and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) operating within the automotive industry. We will explore the substantial potential that smart fleet solutions provide in the segments of passenger cars and vans that will revolutionize the B2B sector in the upcoming years.

We distinguish between white and black fleet business customers. White fleet purchases are made by the fleet manager for the whole company, including pool and multipurpose vehicles, which don’t belong to a specific user. Black fleet purchases, also referred to as “user chooser,” are mainly decided by the actual driver of the vehicle.

Future of CRM
Figure 1: Black vs. white fleets

Even though the market share of white fleets is noticeably smaller than that of black fleet clients (20% in Germany, 2020),1 it is an immensely interesting market for OEMs and one that is constantly growing.

While financial aspects like Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) are still key determining factors for fleet clients, the perception, the experience as well as the relationship of the fleet manager to the OEM based on this is becoming increasingly important as a decision criterion. What makes this so relevant is that the fleet managers are a very limited group of decision makers, deciding over significant budgets, compared to the wide group of user choosers with their personal budgets. OEMs can increase their standing by turning fleet clients into brand ambassadors that embody a positive image through their large functional fleets.

In this blog post, we will demonstrate the importance of appropriate CRM measures to address decision-makers in B2B business. We will tackle the “user chooser/ black fleet” subject in our next blog post.

Agency sales, Functions-on-Demand offers and a consumerized experience

The needs of B2B fleets are changing: with shorter leases and fewer service demands, Functions-on-Demand (FoDs) is becoming another major value stream, while fleet managers also demand a “consumerized” experience.

In the coming years, the relationship between OEMs and B2B clients will be increasingly driven by fleet agency sales within direct sales models, as already highlighted in our agency sales POV. The fleet agency model turns offline salespeople into direct agents of the OEM, thus making use of existing dealer structures and enabling a connected use of customer data. This makes it possible for OEMs to build a 360-degree view and offer an end-to-end experience. With fleet business accounting for a major percentage of sales, targeting B2B and white fleet customers in particular through an agency model is becoming a priority for OEMs.

In addition to that, there is a necessity to engage more intelligently with B2B clients: Shorter leasing cycles and subscription models will increase churn, while the electrification of fleets decreases the need for aftersales services. New opportunities for revenue streams like on-demand, fleet-wide functions and disruptive shared mobility offers are developing rapidly.

Demand from B2B clients tends towards “consumerized,” frictionless B2C-style customer experiences. Exposure to digital information only intensifies this demand, leading fleet managers to continuously evaluate their set of OEMs and offers. Consequently, OEMs will have to interact considerably more often with fleet managers in a highly personalized and seamless way, predicting their needs to avoid churns and amplify loyalty.

Fleet data and targeted B2B relationships

OEMs need to use the full potential of fleet data for targeted B2B relationship management. Integrated technologies within fleet vehicles will provide a huge variety of new data points in the coming years. OEMs need to connect all new sources, including fleet management solutions, telematics, data analytics, smart surveillance, and radio frequency identification. As already outlined in our previous blog post, “The Intelligent Combination of Vehicle Customer Data,” by around 2030, Capgemini experts expect growth from the current 100 data points to over 10,000.

Before long, based on available fleet vehicle data, we anticipate that OEMs will be able to gather a comprehensive overview of their customers’ fleet assets and desires – aggregated fleet driver as well as fleet manager needs. Knowing and addressing these particular requirements results in a major opportunity for OEMs. They will be able to improve their CRM fleet activities and provide tailored offerings to a target group, one that OEMs and NSOs are still trying to win by price rather than experience. We predict the following use cases:

  1. Usage-based FoD offers:

By analyzing fleet data, OEMs can identify and even predict usage patterns in order to derive and communicate certain offers that add benefit to fleets and therefore fleet managers. The intelligent combination of that knowledge with the rise of Functions-on-demand that can be added to existing fleet vehicles gives OEMs a real difference-maker.

If the analysis of fleet data, for instance, shows an over-average number of accidents, CRM could automatically propose additional FoDs. For example, driving assistance functionalities that lower the number of accidents could be extended, thereby reducing operational costs for fleet managers. Additionally, OEMs that recognize a large number of fleet vehicle drivers activate certain Functions-on-Demand (FoDs) could offer a package price for the whole fleet, thus creating a win-win-win situation for fleet users, fleet managers, and the OEM.

  1. Need-based leads:

The fleet sales department is usually in frequent contact with its business clients, as are the corresponding fleet managers, constantly looking for the best offer to beat the competition. Analyzing and aggregating fleet driver behavior can provide all the relevant information needed to work out best-fit offers (including a pre-calculation of all benefits) or recommend best fleet compositions (share of a fleet). This helps fleet managers to find the most-adequate vehicles for the companies’ purpose, minimize the cost of vehicle ownership (including repairs and maintenance), and improve the user journey. Ideally, a lead is automatically generated based on gathered insights. But certain conditions must first be met, such as fleet usage, available offers, and strategic targets timeframe.

  1. Predictive fleet maintenance:

When it comes to service resolution, proactive resolution of cases can be a great approach to establishing a more convenient experience for fleet managers. In the short term, telematic sensors will be perpetually improved, making it possible to track parameters like humidity, light exposure, and temperature, all of which influence the intensity of wear-and-tear. OEMs should react by offering prognosticative service packages leveled across the fleet. This will enable them to address peak levels and unforeseeable circumstances. For instance, the majority of the fleet needs to have service at the same time.

Exploiting the potential of fleet data

As already touched upon, fleet data has the potential to transform an OEM. But getting the data is only the first step. In fact, to exploit the potential of fleet data and realize the outlined used cases, OEMs need to find answers to the following three questions:

  • How do you gain access to fleet data?
  • How do you process fleet data?
  • How do you make use of fleet data?
Fleet data availability

Technically, fleet data should be collected firsthand, either by integrating the OEM’s CRM systems into its own fleet solutions (e.g., Mercedes-Benz Connect: Your Fleet and business) or by connecting them with independent fleet management solutions (e.g., Verizon Connect). Market-leading CRM systems already offer out-of-the-box integrations with various fleet management solutions. The pros and cons are evident: using your own data is most likely going to be less complex but, of course, limited to the corresponding brand and its market penetration. Alternatively, OEMs can make use of the rising number of connected vehicles, as outlined in our previous blog post, The Intelligent Combination of Vehicle and Customer Data. However, this leads to a complex allocation within the set CRM system and is only available for the OEM’s own brand of vehicles.

The biggest challenge is not a technical one but a legal and psychosocial one. Users need to provide consent, only doing so if they either trust or benefit from data sharing (e.g., by reduced cross-fleet FoD prices).

Fleet data processing

Processing the connected data is as important as integrating and making use of it. Consequently, two factors are vital for successful implementation. First, a CRM solution with AI functionalities enables the evaluation and derivation of insights and next best actions. Second, as already outlined in our first CRM blog post, Customer Relationship Management in 2030, a CRM Service Hub with a centrally bundled variety of services can exploit the power of data from customers and cars and provide customized and aggregated overviews of relevant data.

Fleet data usage

To add actual value, the technical and procedural set-up needs to enable concretely set goals and use cases, with continuous measurement of clearly-set KPIs. This will put the “consumerized” experience over the lowest price and boost the loyalty and lifetime value of fleet managers extremely. All client-facing entities need access to insights and the ability to embed them in their daily client conversation. Currently, pure leasing price dominates when it comes to the white fleet business. OEMs value experience more than price, with tailored offers and next-best-action representing a better overall package throughout the lifecycle with respective FoD s or tailored leasing and consumption.

Thinking ahead, CRM managers should always look at bi-directional integrations. This will enable them to also use data generating systems as communication tools. For example, they can provide insights and offers into the fleet management solution that is used by the fleet manager.

Laying the foundation early is the key to success

To prepare for the upcoming challenges and fully exploit opportunities, in addition to a sharp CRM strategy, integrated CRM processes, an intelligent CRM system, and sufficient operation models, there has to be a direct, data-driven offering to B2B fleet managers. To make use of the tremendous amount of data for campaigns, leads, and case management, we recommend four keys to success:

Future of CRM
Figure 2: Success factors

Establish a CRM Service Hub to combine and process data centrally, and be able to apply smart analytics to personalize communications and offerings.


Exploit the full potential of data from all sources, including smart fleet solutions and telematic systems, by storing large amounts to be analyzed automatically.


Increase end customers’ data trust by providing transparency about the purpose of data sharing and pointing out the benefits and use cases.


Set up a resilient consent structure to centrally collect and store data, thus enabling the enrichment of your CRM with customers, vehicle usage, and contract data.


Implement bi-directional integration in personal and independent fleet solutions to gather valuable fleet data firsthand.

Which priorities and which additional use cases do you see? We are looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

This blog has been co-authored by Thomas Ulbrich, Christopher Rose and Lorenz Finsterhoelzl. Please get in touch if you have questions or need further information. We look forward to exchanging ideas on this particular current topic. 

Source[1]: Dataforce, 2020

About Author

Thomas Ulbrich

Director,Customer Transformation,Capgemini Invent

Christopher Rose

Manager,Customer Transformation,Capgemini Invent

Lorenz Finsterhoelzl

Consultant,Customer Transformation,Capgemini Invent