Use Technology As a Differentiator to Create a Better F&I Customer Experience

Empower consumers with a customer experience that weaves technology into their buying journey

As you already know, consumers’ buying behaviors are evolving. Not only are more transactions than ever being initiated online, but now, some companies are promising a complete online transaction.

You may wonder how your brick-and-mortar dealership will compete with the latest technologies that offer a fully automated, consumer-driven online transaction. The answer is the customer experience.

A NewVoiceMedia study reveals that approximately 59% of Americans would try a new brand or company for a better customer experience. Meanwhile, Econsultancy reports that 83% of consumers require some degree of customer support while making an online purchase.

These are two key statistics to keep in mind. Although an online interaction may look different, consumers are still looking for your professional knowledge and guidance.

An increasing number of companies are giving consumers more choices in how they interact with them. For dealers, this means providing technology that empowers and engages consumers in their buying process.

Take an extreme analogy from another industry to really drive the point home: Consider all the technology used in the medical industry.

Technology is used to assist a doctor’s diagnosis (needs analysis). It’s used to aide in surgeries (process execution). It’s used in patient portals to facilitate communication between doctors and patients.

But self-serve kiosks are unlikely to replace the human interaction and professional knowledge of a medically trained professional. Doctors and nurses can better service patients because of the technology they use, but not be replaced by it.

Take a look at the consumers’ needs when they are researching a vehicle. If you allow them to use digital retail tools to apply for credit online, or from a tablet in-store guided by you, you’re engaging them in the process and allowing them the flexibility to complete this step any time or anywhere they choose.

They feel empowered. They can read your privacy policy at their own pace, and electronically sign documents.

You can implement technology to engage your customers in the sale of aftermarket products and educate them on their value. For example, customers can answer lifestyle questions from a tablet device, which will in turn connect them to unbiased product recommendations.

The device can also provide them with media-rich information, such as videos, to educate them on the best products for their particular needs. Technology streamlines the sale of insurance products, and you can connect your consumer to financing options and quote services.

Although these tools may change your traditional interactions with your customer, they are resources to help you better assist them, and build trust and loyalty.

In addition, use technology in the execution of your process with tools like e-contracting. It will improve your customers’ satisfaction if you don’t have to call them back because of missed signatures or other required documents.

With e-contracting, data is validated as it’s being entered, so it not only creates efficiencies, it also accelerates the funding process. It’s a win-win for everyone.

By using e-contracting, you give your customers the flexibility to review documents at their leisure, prior to coming to the dealership. Remote document delivery lets you to communicate with your customers, and allows them to review and understand critical contract documents prior to signing. It saves time and removes unnecessary pressure from the process.

Remember, the customer journey is changing, and technology should be woven into every step of the vehicle-buying process. It can help you better understand your customer, create efficiencies in your office, give your customers flexibility, and provide transparency into your process.

Just think, we’re approaching the 50th anniversary of the first widely accepted ATM, yet with the convenience of an ATM machine on nearly every corner, plus online and mobile banking available on our phones, we still have brick-and-mortar financial institutions with trained professionals to provide that unique human ability to cater to our individual needs.

It’s an additional level of service a business provides that is a differentiator. Just as it did for financial industry, technology should augment the service and customer experience your dealership offer—not replace them.

Jeff Belanger is the senior vice president of Business Development for RouteOne, a joint venture created by Ally Financial, Ford Motor Credit, TD Auto Finance, and Toyota Financial Services. He is responsible for ensuring a best-in-class customer experience for all RouteOne’s customers (dealer, dealer group, and finance source), while also pursuing new business opportunities. During his 14-year tenure with RouteOne, Belanger has held numerous leadership positions in operations, project management, product development, finance source, and dealer business development. Prior to arriving at RouteOne, Belanger held various roles in both the automotive and auto finance industries.

Jeff Belanger

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