Shifting into Second: The Future of Driving Auto Loans (Part 2)
The notion of a buying service has been around for some time, generally in the form of an auto broker who negotiates a price on the consumer’s behalf, in exchange for a broker fee either built into the purchase price of the vehicle or charged separately for the service. While the traditional broker model still exists, the effects of the Great Recession linger, and shoppers are less willing to pay an added premium for vehicles. Instead, many are looking to make smart financial decisions. Today’s informed consumer is increasingly demanding a high quality service experience with transparent pricing at no additional mark-up.
Savvy companies are now meeting this need, offering excellent service at no additional cost to the consumer. Today, concierge services are often able to provide that one-on-one personal advisor who can guide the buyer through the entire auto buying experience, from helping evaluate particular makes and models to connecting with a local “no-haggle, no-hassle” dealer, arranging a convenient test drive and explaining the finer points of financing.
The goal is to eliminate the traditional anxiety or discomfort involved with buying a new vehicle, and to leave the consumer feeling as good about their experience as they do about the vehicle they drive off the dealership lot.
The ideal credit union strategy is to marry the excitement of the car buying experience with the strong loyalty of the credit union relationship by offering a two-pronged approach for the automotive purchase journey. First, it is important to leverage auto shoppers’ trust in third party websites by providing the latest technology solutions for researching, selecting and financing a vehicle across multiple devices.
Keep your auto shopping site as a key component of your web and marketing strategy, leading with the car. Rates are important, yet shoppers focus much more attention on researching a vehicle. Since members often consider auto buying and auto financing as one experience, this will help position the credit union as the first point of contact in the purchase journey, all the while promoting your lending products. Second, combine it with a knowledgeable concierge service that provides a personal guide, at no cost to the member, to help facilitate and enhance the buying experience. This will help meet today’s higher service expectations, leverage the dealership experience’s ability to impact the purchase and greatly enhance credit unions’ ability to capture more member loans.
As a result of incorporating a more comprehensive program strategy and approach to assisting members with their auto buying needs, credit unions will have an ideal opportunity to advance member relations, reduce competition, retain more member loans and grow lending opportunities. In addition, each sale would likely boost local word-of-mouth about the credit union, as the buyer shares his positive experience with friends and relatives.
After all, superior customer service is never out of style.