Contrary to popular belief, a recent Fiserv study found that a majority of borrowers are not asking for a completely online experience when it comes to getting their next auto lease or loan. Instead, they’re looking for a more supportive level of engagement with their lender, including the ability to communicate in a variety of different channels throughout the life of the lease or loan.
Consumers want to feel their lender will help them while keeping their information secure and processing their application in an efficient, transparent manner. While this is true of both the origination and servicing stages of the loan lifecycle, satisfying the borrowers’ needs during this first phase of the lease or loan will help improve the likelihood the lender will be chosen again in the future.
The same Fiserv study asked consumers how they felt about the origination experience, and an overwhelming majority — 78% — indicated that they wished the process was more efficient. Too many lenders asking for the same information, delays in getting information sent between parties, and inefficient channels of communication all contributed to significant dissatisfaction.
Lenders have an opportunity to set themselves apart with customer experience while enhancing their internal efficiency by using digital tools, such as web portals, to engage and exchange information with the borrower, as the application phase is in process. But it’s much more than that. The experience needs to be seamless across devices; accurate using real-time information; and personalized to the borrower specific needs. A robust origination system that can support high volumes of customer interactions is essential as the backbone to provide this “front-end” experience.
Digital tools improve customer engagement and internal effectiveness, but research tells us that it is not enough. Borrowers overwhelmingly want a “digital hand” to hold to help guide them — whether it’s their first auto loan or their third lease. They may be comfortable facilitating parts of the origination process online — such as researching, reading loan documents, prequalifying, or submitting an application — but want their lender to be accessible, should they require more assistance.
According to the survey, 65% of respondents told Fiserv they prefer a “personal touch” when applying online, versus the option of applying completely online without any interaction. Being available through a variety of channels (phone, mobile, web chat, and even in-person) while providing accurate answers is a trust-building personal touch that borrowers rate highly when choosing their lender.
For vehicle purchases, lenders can also work closely with their dealer partners to provide a customer experience where the dealer and lender align together to support the joint customer’s financing needs. A cohesive customer experience from shopping for the car, applying for financing, and completing the transaction with the dealer — with the lender and dealer empowering the consumer with full transparency at each step — is a significant advantage for auto lenders who want to differentiate themselves to consumers and dealers.
With more ways to communicate, however, comes the potential for information in multiple places. In the survey, 68% of respondents said they were concerned with the security of their data and their control over the use of their data. Fiserv found borrowers were willing to do more digitally, especially to accelerate the origination process, as long as they felt confident in the security of the systems they were using. Having one system for customers to use — regardless of whether it’s a phone, tablet, or computer — and reinforcing the security of the system through single sign-on, security questions, and account alerts, are all ways to deepen trust with the customer.
So how can a lender best begin an engagement path to provide a differentiating customer experience?
- Create a journey map of the customer touch points to identify gaps
- Study the frequency of use of different channels currently in place
- Survey your customers to understand their needs — and your dealers (when applicable)
- Assess the capabilities of your origination system to provide fast responses, high availability, and transparency to your customers and partners
- Look for a technology partner to help you deploy an origination engagement strategy — and not just for origination, but all the way through servicing for a great borrower experience from application to loan/lease payoff
Lease and loan origination can be more than just the start of a financing term. With the right level of engagement and technology to support it, lenders can create a satisfying experience that will help retain the borrowers they worked hard to attract for years to come.