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White Clarke Group have announced details of their new customer self-service tool which enables users to book their own finance in an end-to-end optimised online process that reduces friction and enables customers to purchase finance when and where they wish.

This new solution, which can be quickly and easily bolted into most auto finance technology platforms, comes at a time when the pandemic has added fuel to the long-term trend towards completing more, but not necessarily all of the auto customer’s purchase journey online.

“At the outbreak of the pandemic most research suggested that COVID-19 would simply drive all transactions online – and many predicted this would hasten the end of bricks and mortar dealerships” said Brendan Gleeson, CEO of White Clarke Group. “News of their demise, however, seems to be exaggerated… for the time being at least!”.

Gleeson cites recent research from Cox Automotive conducted through the first and second wave of infections in the United States. Rather than moving their auto purchases completely online, customers are choosing which element of their car buying journey can be done in the safety of their own home, and which requires an in-person visit to a showroom.

“At the start of the outbreak, customers were frightened to go into dealerships - 60% of customers reported wanting to do more of the car buying journey remotely. Over the summer however the number of customers who reported they were much or somewhat less likely to go into a dealer (as a result of the pandemic) dropped from 60% to 43% suggesting this reluctance is a short-term response. During the same period however interest in services like remote pick-up and delivery of cars have accelerated.”

So where do customers want to transact their auto finance business? The answer seems to be that it depends.

In the US and probably elsewhere the focus right now is on driving down cost. Customers are worried about their financial situation, a trend which may encourage more shopping around for finance online to find the best deal. Finance providers who depend on selling just at the point-of-sale may well lose out on these sales during the economic downturn. In the UK however, concerns about customer vulnerability in the aftermath of the pandemic suggest that there is increased interest in the need for person-to-person contact, requiring the lender to place each potential borrower on a spectrum of risk to ensure they treat each customer fairly.

“Perhaps the lasting effect lesson from the pandemic is that systems need to be agile, and multi-channel” points out Gleeson. “You need to be ready wherever the customer wants to transact – whether it is at home or in the dealerships or somewhere else entirely.

“The gold standard is to focus on a single journey that can take place across whatever channel each customer wants. This process can be optimised to meet customer needs and customer vulnerabilities that change depending on the situation at the time. Behind this flexibility, the system can be progressively optimised to make all journeys as friction-free as possible with e-identification, digital contracts and all the latest innovations that have made the process easier.

That’s what CALMS Customer Direct delivers”

Demonstrations can be booked online at the company’s website, by phone or face to face at the organisations various global offices.

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