Posted: Wednesday, 24 July 2019 @ 10:18
According to omniscient experts, in 2019 customer service is the most competitive battleground for businesses. So what does that mean for leasing and asset finance?
Across industry sectors, growth by referral and reputation is more important than ever. Transparency is everything. Net promoter scores, reviews and ratings are forever going up in value. It’s not just hotels quaking in their boots over their Tripadvisor reviews, it’s everything from your Glassdoor employer rating to your LinkedIn reviews. Then of course there’s good old fashioned word of mouth.
Part of the reason those ratings and recommendations are critical is because buyers are making increasingly solid decisions about who they buy from or work with based on them. They form a fundamental part of the customer journey with as much as 69% of the customers’ decision making happening before they even speak to you.
So far, so obvious you might say. The concept of referral and recommendation is not a new one, it’s just that we have more public ways of seeing and sharing them, as well as more technology by which to measure them. In many industries however, and for our part we feel that leasing is definitely one, technology has an important role, but a limited one in facilitating a good customer experience and sound business outcomes.
The role of technology in leasing and asset finance
Of course, technology plays a part in user experience. It can create easy to use systems and make an online interaction seamless, setting you on the path to a positive relationship (or not). It can also be a useful indicator to assess customer satisfaction and to understand how customers find you, or help you to improve that process.
In finance, algorithms and forms are heavily relied upon in many ways, and with good reason. There is a certain amount of information that is required for sensible decision making and due diligence.
However, there’s a point at which only the human touch will do. In leasing we find this to be particularly relevant, especially in the relationship that we as a lender have with brokers, and in the relationships that brokers nurture with clients.
The valuable role of human relationships and the role of the broker
We see the role of the broker as invaluable because with the best brokers it works on a relationship basis rather than just a purely transactional one. As a result, it adds value to the process and gets more challenging deals placed - not just the easy ones that are perfect on paper.
Brokers have the ability to get to know someone and their situation so that they can channel the variety of opportunities and challenges to the right funders using their experience and customer knowledge. They also work on a geographic basis that matches the distribution of SMEs across the UK. (Keeping in mind that SMEs account for at least 99.5% of businesses in every main industry sector in the UK and are spread out with around 10% in the north west, 8.7% in the south west and almost 15% across the midlands).
There are businesses who trade on different business models, and all of them have their place in the world. Many are able to offer hyper competitive prices on whatever they trade in by stripping out elements like customer experience. But that doesn’t work for all products or all industries, and when it comes to finance it certainly won’t work for all situations. Very few people fit cookie cutter scenarios, that’s where good customer service and good brokers are irreplaceable, and these are the very reasons that Rivers Leasing works so closely with the broker community, who are at the core of what we do.
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