U.S. Bank is exploring potential partnerships to boost the bank’s mobile capabilities as it looks to bring in more customers and enhance the value it provides to dealers, John Hyatt, president of dealer services, told Auto Finance Excellence.
“We will continue to see advancements in technology that will allow more of our transactions to be completed on an individual’s personal device prior to arriving at the dealership,” Hyatt said. “We are exploring many companies to partner with to bring this value to our dealerships and to our customers.”
Hyatt spoke about the challenges facing the industry and how operational changes to the bank’s sales team have boosted value. What follows is an edited version of Hyatt’s conversation with AFE.
Auto Finance Excellence: How do you apply the lessons learned from your tenure at U.S. Bank to the changing auto finance business today?
John Hyatt: The rules for success for most businesses are the same: Take care of your customers, take care of your employees, and your shareholders will benefit. When I came to U.S. Bank, I was fortunate to find a very supportive leadership team in Minnesota and a bank with the strongest financial positioning in the industry. From a customer perspective, we needed to increase our focus and respond to the voice of our customers. We did this by creating a stronger value proposition to include faster decisioning, fewer stipulations, more efficient funding and a dedicated team to meet their needs.
As for our employees, we all benefit from improving talent through development training and hiring the right people. We’ve worked to elevate the employee experience by listening to feedback and then focusing on the things our team told us need to be improved.
AFE: Late last year, U.S. Bank increased auto-decisioning capabilities and improved efficiencies. Did machine learning or artificial intelligence factor into those refinements?
JH: Our auto-decisioning capabilities have come from strong analytics with tightly controlled champion-challenger work. We have focused to increase our auto approvals while reducing our auto declines. We’ve provided our lenders the opportunity to work closely with F&I to find ways of working to move a turndown to an approval. It’s an iterative process that we will continue to review for improvement opportunities.
AFE: You said at the time that U.S. Bank had flattened its sales team to put fewer people between the dealer and the head of sales in the region. How has this strategy panned out?
JH: Flattening the organizational chart provided a faster, clearer voice for the customer to reach every layer of our organization. This resulted in the development of many process enhancements that allow us to modify our program much faster than it did when it had to come through multiple layers.
We’re fortunate to have very strong and experienced relationship managers in our sales force. The restructured savings quickly translated to improved compensation for the team and better rates for our customers.
AFE: What new strategies do you plan to implement this year?
JH: We are still working to improve the lives of our customers and our dealers through consistent delivery of prime lending products with speed and ease of use. While our tactics on action planning are constantly under refinement, our core strategy remains the same.
AFE: What is the biggest concern the auto industry is facing? Interest rates? More subprime lending?
JH: As an industry, our biggest concern should be the effect that we are having, both positive and negative, on the car-buying public. We should — and will — continue to look for processes, products, and practices that enhance the lives of our customers, as well as ensure that we meet all regulatory hurdles as a base expectation, not a premium. Rates, competition, and environmental
factors may change, yet one thing remains consistent: We are in business to help people, and we must put people first.
AFE: What are some of the top challenges on your radar? Where are you allocating more of your time?
JH: We’re spending a significant amount of time finding ways to not only bring in more customers but to translate those new customers into deeper relationships where we are more central to our customers needs.
In addition, we continually look for ways to reinvent the business and deliver more value to our dealer customers.
AFE: There’s been a lot of talk about leveraging product offerings to consumers that prefer to do most of their shopping online. What strategies has U.S. Bank implemented to improve digital interfaces?
JH: We continue to invest in new technologies internally and partner with external providers to meet and exceed customer expectations. More and more of our car-buying public are very interested in simplifying the transaction and spending less time in the dealership. It’s our job to help find viable solutions to continue to enhance the customer experience.
This interview was originally featured in the July issue of Auto Finance News, out now.