The Top 5 Characteristics of a Healthy Consumer Finance Program
The benefits of a strong consumer finance program are numerous. Not only does it boost your revenue over time by helping you close more deals, it’s also a great way to build stronger, lasting relationships with your customers. For businesses in the retail space especially, having a robust consumer finance program has really become table stakes, particularly in an economy where consumers are spending more time considering every purchase they make and looking for alternative methods of making those purchases.
OK, so having a strong consumer finance program is important for your retail business, but what does that actually look like? What separates a great consumer finance program from one that’s just ‘alright?’ There are many elements that go into building a finance program that both empowers and satisfies your customers and helps you meet your business goals. Here are the top five factors that can help set your finance program apart.
#1 – A Customer-Centric Approach
The key word in customer finance is ‘customer.’ Successful and engaged retail business owners understand that the customer has to ultimately guide the business. Success comes from the customer, and engagement means taking the time to understand the customer’s needs and adjust to them. You can achieve success and become disengaged, but the lack of customer engagement will catch up with you eventually. Retail optimizations that aren’t built around the customer experience first will be wasteful in some way, and will degrade a business’s performance over time.
To ensure your consumer finance program is an unqualified success, you need to center the customer in everything you do. Financing is not a product or a service; it is a customer-forward solution that helps them purchase a product or service. It absolutely impacts your bottom line and boosts your revenue, but it’s more than something to sell, and it’s also more than a selling tool – it’s an option that expands a customer’s possibilities. Ensure your team understands that.
#2 – The Ever-Present Offer
You should teach your retail salespeople about ‘ABOF.’ That is, Always Be Offering Financing. It shouldn’t just be an option your team presents to certain customers based on their situation, it should be a default part of your retail experience. Offering financing to every customer every time will boost your revenue over time; it’s just a numbers game.
Ensure that the offer of financing is not something that has to be manually activated, but rather something that is automatically part of your process and built into the customer experience. The ever-present offer of financing makes the customer feel more comfortable in their buying experience, even if they ultimately do not take advantage of financing. Everyone loves having options.
#3 – A Smooth Application Process
Nothing torpedoes a smoothly-flowing customer experience more quickly than a laborious, time consuming finance application process. If you are submitting an application to multiple lenders, and your team members are bogged down in duplicate data entry for the various forms, then the quality of your customer experience is automatically going to decline as they wait around on an approval. The longer they wait for that approval, the more uncomfortable they are likely to become and you may very well see the sale slip away.
To deal with this, you need to invest in your financing process and spend time analyzing it to find any weaknesses. You may just find room for a solution that makes the application process a breeze. More on that in point #5.
#4 – Fact-Based Improvements
You can make changes to your consumer finance program all day, but unless those changes are based on real data – on hard facts about your program’s performance – you may end up just spinning your wheels. You need comprehensive reporting on the performance of your salespeople, the performance of your program in relation to the customer experience, and the performance of your lenders. And, being as you have plenty on your plate already running your retail business, you need that reporting to be conveniently accessible without having to compile everything yourself. Which brings us to…
#5 – The Right Solution
The best way to set your consumer finance program apart is to take advantage of a solution that takes the stress out of running it. FormPiper is the ultimate consumer finance automation solution, and the perfect option when you are ready to take your consumer finance program to the next level.
FormPiper streamlines the application process by eliminating duplicate data entry, enabling you to fill multiple forms and transmit application data to multiple lenders with the press of a button. It simplifies the entire consumer finance process through convenient managed or self-managed services. And, significantly, it provides detailed reporting so you can make fact-based improvements, all from a single convenient reporting dashboard.
Perhaps the most important characteristic of a healthy consumer finance program is that it keeps up with the customer’s need. With FormPiper to back you up, you’ll stay on the cutting edge of consumer finance, ahead of the competition, and on the side of the customer. In other words, exactly where your retail business should be.