Author: Jo Howes
Creating the better digital banking services for motor financial service providers
Digital services are a key consideration for customers choosing their financial service provider. What do vehicle finance providers need to do to keep up?
Step back about 15 years and our lives were very, very different. We kept track of our finances through monthly bank statements. We did all our shopping in a store made of bricks and mortar. We went to the library to find the information we needed.
Since then technology has completely transformed our lives. We have instant access to services and information from anywhere. We can choose where and when we shop. We interact regularly with new friends around the world.
Why the vehicle finance industry needs to improve digital payment options to connect with customers
Digital has revolutionised business too. Firms can connect with their customers more regularly. They can better understand customers’ needs, desires and behaviours. And they can promote and protect their brand more effectively.
But the vehicle finance industry is not keeping up. Stepping into the new digital world allows organisations to build deeper, longer-lasting relationships with their customers, opening up new cross-selling opportunities that will increase their revenue share.
What’s more, today’s customers expect their vehicle finance provider to provide a digital experience – one that is at least as good as the other online services they use. If a dealership is asking customers to complete loan applications on paper, their customers will be wondering what other inefficiencies and outdated processes that company employs.
So if you’re not looking at building a digital strategy, now is the time to do so. Now is the time to start building the deeper, more meaningful relationships your customers expect.
Keeping your brand in the limelight
If you’re not yet digitised you probably find you rarely interact with your customers once the deal has been completed in the showroom. What regular communication do you have with them beyond sending them their annual statement, or them phoning your contact centre for a settlement quotation?
With engagement at a bare minimum, how can you expect to keep your brand in front of your customers? Many customers don’t even know who their financier is off the top of their head. They simply don’t associate their car’s brand with your finance house.
With your brand hidden in plain sight, when the time comes for your customers to trade in their car for a newer model, you’ll have lost the advantage you could have had over your competitors. You’ll have to start again from scratch, attracting them as a new business opportunity.
Staying in the driving seat – reaching out to customers through better digital finance options
Wouldn’t it be so much better if you could reach out to your customers throughout the lifetime of their loan?
You could be more proactive. You could connect with the customer when parity is reached at around 18 months. You could send them a quick message telling them their loan balance is equivalent to the value of the car and suggesting now could be a good time to look at getting a new car.
You would be in the driving seat. Your customers would become existing business and you wouldn’t have to fight to be selected again. You would be at the top of their list when they start looking for quotations.
Let your customers drive too with accessible online accounts
And how about offering them self-servicing capabilities? Today’s customers are familiar with – and even expect – tools for managing their payment plans themselves.
How about letting them manage their own account details, view and download their electronic annual statements and request and receive settlement quotes – all without having to call your contact centre? You would be able to deliver financial information in a familiar and consistent format that is easy to understand, ensuring the financial processes are fair and transparent.
Your self-service site would match your brand and keep it at the front of your customers’ minds throughout the term of their loans. It would allow you to send them targeted offers such as a quotation for trading in their old car or for their balloon repayment. More than that, it would allow you to open up new revenue streams, cross-selling insurance or breakdown cover to these customers, for example.
Supporting the showroom as well as embracing digital finance
But there is one word of caution. When you ‘go digital’ you need to be careful not to alienate the dealerships. After all, if you rile the dealer you might find they alienate you from future deals.
Your digital strategy needs to support the dealership too. It can help them project a modern brand and accelerate fulfilment in the showroom. Allowing the showroom dealer to close the loan using the tablet or PC they already use will mean they don’t feel they’ve lost control of the deal.
Are you taking advantage of digital technology to get closer to your customers and uncover cross selling opportunities? More importantly, are you leveraging that new found relationship to them when they come to buy their next car?