The principle of ‘Treating Customers Fairly’ is now firmly positioned at the forefront of what car retailers and lenders do.
We have always known this needs to be reflected in the way finance and insurance (F&I) salespeople are incentivised. Dealers and car finance brokers need to ensure that they are engaging with customers in a positive way and lenders must consider the most appropriate methods of incentivising their partners.
Much needs to be considered and reviewed following the Financial Conduct Authority’s final report on motor finance, but that doesn’t stop us taking a proactive approach now.
With this in mind, Alphera is finding new ways of encouraging best practice with an innovative new incentive scheme for our dealer and broker partners in 2019.
In contrast to other incentive schemes, this initiative will reward partners that generate the highest levels of customer insights and satisfaction from their finance customers and, unlike most schemes, we don't demand higher levels of sales to identify the top performers.
The scheme promotes response rates above all else, as knowing what our customers think is the priority - even if it is negative - because it enables us to take steps to improve the experience in the future.
All new customers, throughout the incentive period, will be asked by their finance sales specialists to complete a survey which focuses solely on customers’ experiences during the whole sales process, including their opinion on how easy it was to do business with the dealership, the ability of the sales staff to accurately assess the customer’s demands and needs, and the clarity of information provided.
From this, Alphera can gauge how satisfied the customer was in the finance sales process and, crucially, whether there is any scope for dealers to improve. Dealers and brokers are ranked according to the levels of response rate and customer satisfaction achieved.
Consistency is key if sales specialists are to provide outstanding customer service, and this is measured in monthly performance updates and league tables sent to participating partners.
Following the scheme, we will compile a full breakdown of results to be shared with each participant, detailing their performance throughout the survey period. It is our hope and expectation that dealers can use this feedback to refine and develop their sales processes where needed.
By prioritising positive customer outcomes, this approach can encourage equally positive sales behaviours.
In this instance, Alphera will reward partners achieving the highest customer satisfaction scores with an educational (and of course entertaining) trip to the 2020 National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Show in Las Vegas.
We believe that the development of specialist skills and knowledge relating to the sale of car finance is essential to the ability of dealers and brokers in delivering great customer experiences. This incentive scheme will therefore promote education and training, with bonus points available to businesses whose staff complete specialist finance qualifications from industry bodies, such as the Institute of the Motor Industry’s (IMI) new finance and insurance accreditation scheme, as well as the Specialist Automotive Finance qualifications (SAF Advanced) from the Finance & Leasing Association (FLA).
These organisations are committed to helping members to offer the highest possible standards in the sale of car finance products and we believe it is appropriate that finance sellers are incentivised to achieve these standards.
It is imperative that we constantly challenge ourselves to improve as well as help our dealers and brokers to provide the best possible service to customers.
Ultimately, customers who are happy with the service they receive will be more likely to return to the business in the future.
By investing time in customer satisfaction and seeking to improve sales standards through incentivisation and education, dealers can reap the long-term rewards of repeat business and the potential for increased profitability.
* Spencer Halil is UK director of Alphera Financial Services. Part of the BMW Group, the multiple award-winning specialist auto finance company is based in Farnborough, Hampshire, and celebrated its 10th anniversary in the UK market in 2016. It supports more than 1,300 broker, franchise and independent partners for all marques (outside of BMW and MINI). Worldwide, Alphera provides vehicle finance solutions in more than 25 countries, including the USA, South Africa, Australia and Germany.