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Guest opinion: 'It is essential finance becomes more visible online'

Lee Streets

Consumers expect to be able to do so much more online now and, in many walks of life, transactions both start and finish in a virtual sales channel.

Indeed, there has been a massive increase in the past five years in customers who are willing to not only research but also buy their finance solution online.

Some figures suggest more over half a billion pounds of car finance is being transacted online by car finance brokers.

However, there is also a lot more being done in the showroom.

Finance has seen massive growth in terms of penetration and value over recent years and this provides a number of opportunities for the motor industry.

A real polarisation of customers exists, between those who will engage online and those who want to deal face to face.

But this is not generational or indeed based on any specific demographic characteristics.

Adopters of new technology are a diverse mix and it is important that the motor industry recognises this fact.

Allowing the customer to sign on the dotted line in the way that they find comfortable and convenient is a must going forward.

That means having the technology in place to meet the demands of the “want it now” consumer, as well as the systems to provide the detail required, however the customer chooses to interact.

Further upstream in the sales process, it is important that the information and platforms exist for consumers to do their own research, whether that’s finance calculators or internet brokers and search comparison sites.

The use of electronic signatures is becoming much more prevalent and there is significant opportunity for innovations such as video calls and recording around the agreement phase.

Perhaps you won’t need a sales person to go through the terms and conditions because you can play a pre-recorded video to the customer, but you could also record them through video chat, confirming that they have understood the information.

Anyone operating in the motor industry must be able to serve up solutions for every type of consumer – from those who want to complete the whole transaction online, to those who want to manage everything face to face, and everyone in between.

Consumers are searching a huge variety of sources now before they even set foot in a showroom, and it is essential that finance becomes much more visible online.

The process needs to be managed responsibly, but a huge amount of pre-qualification work can be done with potential customers online, ensuring that they know what kind of deal they are able to get when they commit to buy.

Very few consumers actually qualify for the headline-grabbing low APR rates out there in the market, so it is important to manage expectations by sharing detailed information through a number of different channels.

Indeed, managed correctly, customers can be instilled with an even greater sense of trust and security with documents and proofs of identity being managed digitally, as opposed to having a driving licence photocopied in the showroom, for example.

Other security measures like being able to verify IP addresses, thumbprint recognition and evolved e-signature solutions will make this environment even more secure.

Author: Lee Streets (pictured), director, Evolution Funding

The above is included in the Alphera Financial Services’ report, ‘Financing the car of the future’.

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