I started writing this blog as a follow up to one of our Emerging Technology immersion days we hold for members of the Asset and Auto Finance Sector. At the time (only 4 weeks ago), the industry was already facing one of the most disrupting periods in modern times. The rise of electrification, changes in digital engagement, low interest rates, global trade wars and new product models in Mobility and Servitization have already created an evolving battlefield, meaning Asset Finance organisations are having to react faster, smarter and more efficiently than ever to maintain customer loyalty and profitability. Investment in digital capabilities was seen as paramount by the group to be able to meet those demands head on.
Roll forward just a few weeks and the Coronavirus pandemic has added an entirely new dynamic to the market. The short-term impact is already being felt as consumers stop spending and businesses re-evaluate their needs, bringing areas of the sector, such as Auto, to a halt in the last few weeks. While the long-term ramifications may not be fully understood for some time as loan books are re-evaluated, delinquency analysed and residual values recalculated, the expectation is that this will send ripples through the market for a many years to come.
The government has provided some help to the sector by launching the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme (CBILS), the uptake is unknown at this time and is only a short term fix for the 40 approved lenders. If this pandemic continues into 2021, as some analysts predict, all areas of the market are going to come under increased pressure.
Right now, the priority has to be a switch of focus to customers at a time when they need support most, but in a landscape where operations have had to move into the home. How do we enable our businesses and employees to operate and adapt to their needs quickly and efficiently? What can we focus on that will have the biggest short and long term benefits?
The answer has to lie in the use of technology and the ability to provide a platform for better customer experience, better business and customer outcomes as well as improved operational efficiency.
Areas that we see as key focus areas during this time are:
- Expanding digital channels – an obvious one given current working environments, but it is clear that digital engagement across the sector needs to improve, not just focusing on online sales capability but also embedding customer self-service elements too for account changes or settlement quotes for example.
- Creating information channels – Provide faster, more transparent information and take the pressure off frontline staff by moving frequently asked and non-complex queries online through the use of Chatbot or Voice enabled technologies.
- Improve Vulnerability Management – Invest in vulnerability management solutions that will support your customer interaction and provide employees clear workflows for case management. Increase digital and mobile payment capabilities for frictionless arrears management, including part and full payment options.
- Driving Decisions with Data – Empower the business to make better decisions through intelligent data analysis and machine learning capabilities for credit risk scoring, RV calculation or predictive delinquency.
- Embed Intelligent Automation – removal of heavyweight manual processes using automation will keep the business lean and flexible and can also be used to promote customer self-service to digital channels.
- Be part of the API Economy - Leverage the plethora of solutions being enabled by Open Banking to provide new customer services faster, including areas such as current account access for affordability checks, digital ID validations for account access or on-boarding or mobile payments enablement.
These were already key themes in the industry prior to the Coronavirus lockdown and are now critical parts of the armoury as we try to maintain connection with our customers and make the business flexible enough to adapt to the challenges to come. Just because we are distant from each other doesn’t mean we should stop innovating for our customers and enhancing digital capabilities will not just help the problems of today but will help you react faster, smarter and more efficiently to change in the future.
Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing more content around the topics included in this blog to explore some of the ideas in more detail, so please keep an eye out for that. We are also planning a digital meet up in the next few weeks to continue the dialogue together, so again please look out for details coming soon. In the meantime, if you would like to talk about any of the content above please leave a comment or drop me a note at email@example.com"