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Guest opinion: online motor finance should aim to better match customers and product

Paul Burgess, Startline Motor Finance

The next wave of motor finance technology should aim to better match customers with the solution that best meets their needs.

Developments of this kind would be hugely positive, enabling more customers to access appropriate products and lenders - and therefore help dealers to maximise sales.

The first wave of online motor finance was very simple, just allowing the customer to make an application for a single product.

The current wave is more sophisticated, offering a choice, guidance on different products and an indicated likelihood of approval. These are better because they empower the customer by providing more options.

The next step, in our view, should be to use the customer’s details and scorecard to match them with suggested products that best suits their needs.

This was simply a way of providing dealer and lender expertise about motor finance products in the same way as would happen in the showroom.

It is one thing to give the customer an extensive choice and many used car buyers will always want this.

However, choice in itself is largely meaningless for a large proportion of customers who lack the expertise to identify the best option. Many customers actually want the dealer and lender to provide guidance in order to point them towards the best product and the technology is there to make this possible.

The future, to us, is all about offering choice but also offering professional advice about motor finance. Customers want this kind of assistance, even online.

It is all about using technology to identify the factors that are most important to the customer and providing solutions that meet these as closely as possible.

The overall challenge for online motor finance was really to make virtual processes as intelligent and flexible as the in-person experience.

It may be ultimately impossible to give online customers exactly the same degree of advice and flexibility as someone sitting in a showroom but, to our mind, this is very much where the industry should be heading.

Author: Paul Burgess (pictured), chief executive Startline Motor Finance

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