Why the Most Successful Businesses Share Data

Trust is critical in good relationships – and that includes business relationships. That trust is earned by being open, honest and responsive, especially when it comes to sharing information.

When a company decides to outsource a task, trust becomes even more vital. In the world of third-party accident claims management, Fleet Response has learned valuable lessons about trust and data transparency. Founded in 1986 as Rental Concepts Inc, the company initially focused on managing temporary business rentals and later expanded to include accident and maintenance management programs. In 2003 they became Fleet Response, offering comprehensive custom fleet services.

Transparent data management has been key to the company’s success. In 2012 they launched FleetSuite®, a proprietary online tool offering customers real-time access to claims, maintenance and safety data. That tool is now their next-generation web-based portal called VISIBILITY, providing Fleet Response clients with real-time access to data and analytics –  including claim and rental activity, repair updates, maintenance data, subrogation status, and fleet safety information. It’s another way the company has continually invested in data access and transparency for clients.

“We let our clients know that we are an extension of their team,” says Jodie Varner, Fleet Response’s VP of Client Engagement. “And they have access to all of the same information that we see, so there is full transparency to what our team does throughout the entire cycle – including all our notes along with date and time stamps. We want them to know at any point in time where we are on the status of a claim.”

“It’s your data, not ours”

At the heart of the Fleet Response approach is the idea that “it’s your data.” Even when a client no longer uses the company services, they can get access to their past claim activity reports — and that can be a common occurrence with lawsuits involving an accident often taking years to resolve.

In the world of claims management, data transparency is all about tracking trends and reducing costs. That’s where it proves its value. Customers can use data to see how claim activity is costing them money – from tracking accident frequency to analyzing which drivers are safety concerns or what part of the claims process is causing delays. Having data available helps customers speed up and improve the claims management process.

A “high touch” philosophy of managing data

 Customers appreciate it when data is front and center and highly visible. “Data can support things you already know,” explains Varner. “Someone can audit our entire claims process and see we are following the right steps. And when we do make mistakes, it gives us an opportunity to learn where we need to improve. Our transparency presents opportunities for our own improvement but also proves the good job our team does every day. We pride ourselves on ‘high touches’ with claims and frequent follow-up – so that really differentiates us from other third-party administrators and insurance carriers. Our data supports that philosophy of management.”

This culture of transparency has served Fleet Response well – in a company with a history of only losing clients when a company is divested and must use another vendor. The average tenure of their clients is a remarkable 12 years, with one company in a 20-year relationship. Over the years, Fleet Response has grown from serving 50 clients to serving more than 200.

Building a “yes” company culture

Transparency flows from the top – not only in how data is shared, but in how people are treated. Varner describes Fleet Response as a “yes” company. “We are very open to new ideas. We invite input from our customers as well as our employees. And our CEO is very open, sharing our plans to potentially acquire new entities and communicating on a regular basis about successes among employees. It has become even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic with all our employees working remotely. We keep everyone informed on business information, from new accounts coming on board to sharing personal support.”

Data transparency pays dividends not only for Fleet Response customers but also for employees. “It’s all about comfort level. COVID-19 has proven that when we know accurate information, we feel more secure,” says Varner. “If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that not knowing is unsettling. There is a sense of security as an organization, when we know what is happening and why. As a growing business, we’ve developed programs to recognize and value our legacy employees while bringing in people with new skill sets. We went out of our way to talk about our purposeful shift from accident management for fleets to doing more TPA insurance work. We make sure our teams are part of that and encourage them to gain new skills and grow with us –because we value the longevity not only of our client relationships but our employees too.”

When mistakes happen, transparency is the hero

Around the offices at Fleet Response, you’ll hear a few trademark buzzwords and phrases – but this one is a favorite: “Don’t judge us when things are going well. Judge us on how we react when things aren’t going well.” A culture of transparency has helped the company navigate those times when things don’t go so well.

Jodie Varner cites this as one of the reasons she has stayed with the company for 16 years. “I work with good people who want to do a great job,” she explains. “When you develop transparency in client relationships, you can just call them and say, ‘We looked at the issue and we didn’t do this so well.’ Being open about it gains us credibility. It doesn’t help if we pretend something didn’t happen or say why we didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Instead, we’ve built a relationship with our clients where we can say we did something wrong and we’re going to make it right – and next time we’ll do it better and learn from it. We don’t cover up mistakes. We own it. That’s been a real value in our business and in our senior leadership. We trust each other, we trust our employees and we try to build that same trust with our clients.”