The Human Touch in F&I

June 7, 2017

A recent Ward’s Auto article touched on a point we feel strongly about here at RoadVantage: People.

Lately, much of the buzz in our industry has focused on technologies, and if/when/how to better integrate them into our processes. But at the same time, we can’t lose sight of the fact that, at the end of the day, F&I is an industry focused on – and around – people.

A key takeaway from the article was that despite all we hear about getting customers in and out of the dealership quickly, customers don’t always necessarily want a faster F&I process; rather, they want a better experience. In fact, a Gartner study found that 89% of companies expected to compete against each other based on customer experience in 2016, vs. 36% in 2010. Consumers want to feel like they aren’t just another cog in the dealership wheel, and that the F&I manager truly wants to help them find the best options for them, not just push a few more products to pad the bottom line. A recent article by McKinsey & Company stated that “improving a customer experience from merely average to something that wows the consumer can lead to a 30 to 50% increase in measures such as likelihood to renew or buy another product.”

So how do we do that? Here are a few ideas to help dealers improve the customer experience.

  1. Interview.We must remember that while technological innovations make things easier and faster most of the time, they don’t replace the process entirely. Good F&I managers still need to take the time to interview each customer and learn about their individual situation, priorities, and needs. We all know that a family of four purchasing an SUV will likely benefit from a different mix of products than a single person purchasing a sports car. That isn’t to say we shouldn’t have 100% of the products available 100% of the time — you never know what someone might end up being drawn to — but that does mean you can lead with the products and bundles that make the most sense for that customer’s situation. It also makes it clear that you listened, and you then took the time to put some thought into which products that customer is likely to find most valuable.
  2. Individualize. When presenting, it’s all about how the products are explained. Sure, a fancy menu system can slice and dice products into custom bundles and use slick graphics to make them look exciting. But at the end of the day, it is the F&I manager who makes the connections between the product and the person. Take the time to explain how each l product works, but more importantly why each one was chosen for that customer.
  3. Presentation vs. Conversation. Leave time for questions. In the quest to speed up the process, it is tempting to just want to quickly explain everything, rush to a yes/no, and then get the paperwork signed and move on to the next customer. Make sure to leave plenty of time for questions — and make it clear you welcome those questions. Barely pausing for breath while asking “any questions so far? No, good, on to the next product!” isn’t going to foster the right environment. People don’t want to feel like you are rushing them to a decision they might regret, so build plenty of time in for conversation, not just rapid-fire presentation. Slowing down actually has the potential to lead to more positive purchasing experiences. According to Autotrader’s Car Buyer of the Future Study, 54% of consumers choose to buy from a dealership with their preferred experience vs. a dealership with the lowest price.
  4. Customer Experience Goes Beyond the Sale. Make sure you are working with providers that carry that same customer-first mentality you foster in your own office. It doesn’t matter how great the customer-dealer relationship is, if they have a terrible experience with a provider while trying to make claim – it’s over. The personal touch is just as important after they have spent the money as it is before. Otherwise, they are one-time, unhappy customers who won’t trust you or any F&I manager again in the future.

As more and more new technologies change the way we sell cars, we need to try not to forget that at the end of the day, this is a people business focused around the customer experience. In fact, it’s expected by 2020 that customer experience will be the main brand differentiator over price and product. So let’s face it, having a human connection will still continue to trump the latest gadgets and gizmos any day.

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This post was written by: Garret Lacour, CEO RoadVantage
Published: June 7, 2017

Original Source: http://roadvantage.com/vantage-point/298-the-human-touch-in-f-i