Self-serve supermarkets and dealer finance

John Hughes MD, Mann Island Finance 

Well I like a good headline and I hope it’s grabbed your attention!

At Mann Island Finance, we are big fans of the benefits of digitisation and continue to invest in new technologies to improve speed, accuracy and the customer experience. However, it occurs to me that on this last point of customer experience, that technology does not always work for every customer. The capacity and flexibility to retain the human element remains an important capability.

Self-Serve – it’s not without its challenges

When it works, an entirely self-serve experience can be fine, but when it doesn’t work or is not as intuitive as the organisation involved anticipates, then it can be a cause for frustration.

I don’t believe I’m alone in my exasperation with self-serve when it doesn’t work ‘seamlessly’. Over recent weeks that has included; airline travel, couriers, my council and even HMRC. As consumers we want speed, ease of access AND, when needed, personal service.

Our recent Mann Island Finance Monitor dealer survey revealed that speed of response remains a dealer priority. Many customers sail through our digitised processes, and increasingly we expect many car finance customers will happily self-serve their finance, achieving the speed and ease that they and their dealer want.

However, this won’t always be true for everyone. Not everyone wants to self-serve their finance or car buying needs and some may need that extra bit of personal help.

Lessons from the Supermarket

I’m not the greatest fan of supermarket self-serve tills and if there was a manned till available I would always choose that first as my first instinct is that there is bound to be something that doesn’t work! I’m sure this is true for many of my peers and there are plenty of us.

In part, this resistance is due to the soulless process but also because all too often self-serve falls short of the friction-free experience promised. Simple regular products often require a human touch. High Street shops are not alone in this respect; the online checkout process can often be confusing and clumsy.

These same self-serve challenges can arise in the self-serve car and financing process:

  • Business customers who need to understand their tax and cashflow possibilities
  • Consumers who don’t understand PCP v HP
  • People concerned with their credit status

All come quickly to mind.

The importance of being human

Technology has its place and we wholeheartedly support it, but we are also big fans of being a ‘human brand’; one where people matter and where treating customers as human beings matters. It is all about being appropriate to their needs.

It is why we continue to invest in our technology and our people and why those people are happy to talk with or in front of a dealer’s customers and help them to understand their financing options and the accompanying features and benefits.

For us at Mann Island Finance, it is why we are so committed to being the most human car finance brand; all the technology and all the humanity to help more people to get the vehicle they need and want.

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