Time is often an invisible variable in nearly all the tasks we do. Whether pulling the cord to the lawnmower, booting up your computer or running your credit card at the pump, you expect these everyday tasks to “just work.” An expectation develops that processes will be repeatable, will take about the same amount of effort and time as before, and will deliver the same outcomes.
This is because our brains assimilate patterns quickly. By the second experience with such events, we have already developed mental muscle memory that tells us subsequent uses should take the same amount of time. If the process takes longer, we suspect something may be wrong.
In other words, speed creates expectation.
Our brains also connect patterns like this between different but related processes. For instance, if you’re accustomed to speedy retail transactions using a swipe card or mobile device, shouldn’t you expect that same level of convenience and speed when you pay your service clerk for a brake job? After all, both of these transactions are necessary for acquiring a product or service. In other words, they share many of the same elements, but one situation may offer a seamless experience while the other might not.
Expectations May Vary
All this brings us to an important question: What is a fair expectation for a transaction?
The answer may depend on when you were born. If you were born before 1986, you grew up in a world where manual processes were the norm and your brain set expectations to the realization that some transactions and processes just take longer than others.
However, if you were born after 1986, you are a “digital native” — someone who grew up in a digitized world. You assume electronic processes rule more often than not, and you expect fast, seamless transactions. Therefore, to slow down, stand in line, and feel like you’re wasting time may make you irritable and impatient. It might even fire off receptors in your brain that can make waiting painful. Just forget your E-ZPass and get stuck again in the cash lane to pay the toll and you get the point.
Conversely, when transactions are smooth — and processes easy and fast — all those potential irritants and pains evaporate. But what happens when it is a pleasurable experience? Science shows us that pleasing activities can release the chemical dopamine in the brain. One emotion this hormone creates is a sense of happiness.
A recent Apple study provides insight. In that 2016 study on Apple Pay, a branded digital payment process using an iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad or Mac, behavioral economists discuss differing levels of inhibition consumers feel when they pay in different ways. Paying with cash leads to less spending and purchases — there’s a pain sensation associated with being separated from your cash. Paying with credit cards resulted in higher purchases because the feeling and visual experience of being separated from your money are eliminated. Using a pushbutton, branded process like Apple Pay led to staggering increases in spending habits.
As if there was any doubt, the study underscores that instant gratification is alive and well. The fight for customers’ attention is being won with increased speed and delivering on new expectations. Consider what drives Amazon’s experimental drone delivery system or inspired Netflix to drop entire seasons of shows at once to create events. Musical artists now release compilations of their videos in one group of videos for the same reasons. Likewise, major movie studios with franchises release new films almost yearly now to continuously feed their consumers. Speed is a critical factor in meeting customer demand.
Speed, Satisfaction and Transparency
While consumers demand faster interactions, they continue to expect transactions and business engagements to be more satisfying and transparent. They want a more intuitive instore experience and a seamless online experience they control — and both had better be fast.
What does this mean for our industry and your agency? Agents and dealers who employ processes and tools that reduce time and meet the “techspecations” of the modern consumer have a huge advantage over those who do not. Creating that fast, high-end, pushbutton user experience will create conditions for better results.
Some producers and agents are already helping their clients understand, appreciate and use some of the leading technologies that help deliver a faster, more transparent and often expectation-busting experience.
Some of these technologies are designed to improve the customer experience by improving the engagement process. Others drive to make consumers’ decision-making processes less cumbersome for them. Others (and often technologies that deliver to multiple consumer needs) increase the overall speed-to-completion to give customers faster, better, and more enjoyable experiences, instore and online.
Emerging technologies now being adopted by dealers include such interactive sales tools as tablets, video, customer surveys, kiosks, gamification reality, virtual reality and engagement media that explain product features and benefits in powerfully compelling ways. As these tools deliver speed and link consumers’ expectations of modern retailing experiences to the act of shopping for and purchasing vehicles and aftermarket products, your dealer clients connect the value of each product they offer to how it enhances customer lifestyle goals.
For instance, when correctly implemented, erating simplifies and speeds up how quickly F&I can build successful menu presentations. It also eliminates 99.9% chance that F&I managers will make pricing errors on the products they present — and error-free transactions are what every consumer expects and deserves. Likewise, econtract remittance speeds up the contracting process. Digital signature capture speeds document completion.
Customers dislike processes that cost them time and prefer to patronize retail operations whose methods help them keep pace with their busy schedules. According to J.D. Power, “process innovations such as econtracting, combined with improvements to the dealer support and a robust product offering, contribute to satisfaction increases.”
Digital technologies remain foundational to improving clients’ F&I results for the following reasons:
- Speedier processes: For example, emenu use can shorten a customer’s time in F&I by an average of 15 minutes. That’s an enormous savings for individuals eager to be done and on their way.
- Greater clarity: Paper processes only leave customers wondering if they got the whole story. An interactive emenu helps customers better understand the value of your products, which builds trust in them and your dealership.
- More secure data: Paper processes risk misplaced deal jackets and other documents that can put private customer data at risk. Digital menu systems keep F&I processes compliant with the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.
- Increased F&I performance: Emenu use versus no menu use substantially increases core F&I performance
A recent MaximTrak study of 270 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles dealerships across approximately 1.5 million vehicle transactions showed that emenu use (vs. no menu use) increased PVR by $538 per deal, improved vehicle service contract penetration by 52% per deal, shaved 15 minutes off each transaction, and ensured a compliant presentation to every customer every time
Dealers want customers to be happy and satisfied when they leave their showrooms. Surprise customers with operations that mirror the speed and quality of those they’re used to elsewhere. Those efforts will win you repeat business and good online reviews from buyers of most any generation.