There is no question about it: The retail space is evolving, and our industry is not immune to the charge toward change. There is rapidly maturing technology popping up all around us that enables consumers to drive their purchasing experience and fulfill their desire for simplicity and transparency.
Customer experience is the new competitive differentiator — an advantage that attracts and keeps customers, and dealers know this. One study states that 89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience this year. Customers, not products or services, drive revenue. How are your dealers supporting their customers’ thirst for the online, digital experience?
Meeting Consumer Expectations
In the pre-digital paper days, when an F&I manager wanted to rate aftermarket products, actual books were strewn about the office, and hard copy forms had to be filled out by hand and laboriously fed through a fax machine. Vehicle buyers had to wait around the dealership for many hours before the contracting process was completed.
Today, consumers are choosing a remote purchasing process that starts online, at any time, on their own devices. Technology has given consumers the convenience to compare and select their vehicle, fill out an online credit application, and research the best payment options directly on a dealership’s website, all from the comfort of their home. Crucial information is then digitally sent to a dealership for contract creation. This part of vehicle-buying has become increasingly mainstream.
Making the transfer from an online to instore experience seamless is a critical point. Customers want simplicity. They do not want to duplicate their efforts. Allowing buyers to perform all possible steps online, instead of in-store, will lead to an increase in a dealership’s CSI with today’s busy consumers.
Econtracting technology in dealerships has been available for several years. In that time, consumers have demanded a transparent and convenient buying experience for all retail goods. Online shopping has become even more commonplace, even for vehicle purchases, and econtracting has reached a tipping point where the critical mass has shifted their traditional ways because of the features and benefits that the process offers to all parties involved.
The most recent advancement of econtracting, remote esigning, has continued to enhance the F&I process. With this technology, F&I offices can include ancillary documents like aftermarket products as part of a fully streamlined econtracting process. Dealerships can pull and sign aftermarket forms digitally, send to the consumer to sign remotely, automatically submit upon distribution to finance sources, and effortlessly book with providers, all electronically. From the dealership perspective, this new contracting process can optimize their remittance procedures and make it easier for F&I managers to complete the sale.
From the customer viewpoint, including aftermarket in an econtract package allows their dealership to present all contracting documents, including finance and insurance products, all at once in a single esigning ceremony performed in the F&I office or remotely, depending on the customer’s preference. Buyers can choose to view all documents on their own time and feel more confident about the entire transaction. Contracting can take a lot less time than it did in the past for all parties involved when aftermarket products are streamlined into the digital workflow.
Additional Esigning Benefits
In the dealership, forms are signed electronically with the consumer’s finger on a tablet device, or by using a stylus and signature pad connected to a desktop computer. When a customer opts for a remote esigning experience from their own home or office, they may apply their electronic signature by merely typing it in from a computer or drawing it on a touchscreen device. When consumers are offered more time on their own to review documents, they can be more comfortable to “sign what they see,” plus enjoy added transparency in the vehicle buying process. Also, with remote esigning, less time is spent completing documentation during the vehicle delivery process at the dealership. A win for all.
With remote esigning, once the buyer signs the deal documentation, it is immediately accessible in electronic form to the dealership for completion of the signing ceremony and finalization of the contracting process. The dealership applies an esignature where required. A link to the final, fully executed econtract is emailed to the customer to help dealerships manage crucial compliance. Electronic distribution can be an entirely paper-free, digital process. In addition, remote esigning is complete with a robust set of security standards.
Remote esigning is a yet another enhancement to the econtracting process that is enhancing the digital consumer experience. Econtracting ensures the F&I department captures all the necessary signatures from a buyer the first time, alleviating the stress and aggravation of calling a customer back in after they drive away because they missed signing at an “X” on a paper form. With esigning and remote esigning, F&I offices can experience increased econtracting adoption and improved customer satisfaction because of a reduction in document generation time. The signing process can happen anywhere — in the showroom, out on the lot, or remotely. Capturing signatures is no longer confined to the F&I office.
Find the Right Connection
How does esigning affect a provider’s visibility in the marketplace? When you grant F&I managers the ability to add aftermarket products to an econtract and present them to the buyer for a single electronic signing ceremony, you open the door to new opportunities for your business. Providers that offer a full range of esigning capabilities are flexible to the growing demands of the dealership’s consumers.
The shift from the online to instore experience has been ponderous in our industry at times. However, some companies have significantly streamlined econtracting by perfecting esigning and remote document delivery, considerably enhancing the vehicle purchasing process. Dealers and providers need foresight and long-range vision to continue to improve the customer experience when it comes to purchasing a vehicle.
It’s essential to partner with an F&I platform that is equipped to adapt to the ever-changing retail landscape. Security should be a key component of the platform’s strategy, as well as a vast, open integration network that provides you access, through a single portal, to build your unique experience. A trustworthy system will have critical connections with other essential partners in the industry to ensure your products are front and center.
With the right econtracting platform, an F&I manager can add products without dealing with cumbersome duplicate entry. The ability to stay connected in one platform through the entire process without interrupting the workflow increases the satisfaction of both sellers and buyers, and everyone in between.
Take the Leap
Consumers insist on a vehicle-buying process that is simple, transparent, and takes less time to complete. Any technology that allows F&I managers to speed up the buying process goes a long way toward providing the optimal consumer experience.
Esigning, whether instore or remote, significantly reduces the time it takes to complete the F&I closing process. And, while consumer engagement levels vary from a technical standpoint, almost everyone is familiar with the simple mechanics of esigning. You can’t run daily errands without interacting with a digital signature pad. esigning allows dealerships to be flexible to the varied needs of all consumers.
Keeping an eye towards the future and staying abreast of emerging technologies can help your company continue to be viable in the future. The provider industry must answer the call to remain competitive in the new retail landscape. Esigning is improving the customer experience when it comes to aftermarket products. Embracing these technologies can help you improve your dealer clients’ visibility and F&I production.