Auto loans: Bread and butter, or hit and miss?

To credit unions, auto loans are our bread and butter. We spend a lot of time talking up rates and online loan applications, but if that’s all we’re doing then we’re missing something. We miss the most important part — the member.

Where in our messaging do we address the pain points of consumers in the auto buying process? Do we show how we can solve the most pressing problem? It’s not often done. We spend more time talking about the bells and whistles of our product offerings but not nearly enough time, if any, in making the case of how to make car buying as painless as possible. To do this effectively, we must understand the sales process and map the member experience.

According to a recent survey from the automotive industry on the typical buying process, consumers first search online and browse dealer inventories on various websites. All inquiries go the dealership and completely bypass the pre-approval process from their primary financial institution. How do we solve this problem for the credit unions we work with? We make our credit unions a part of the buying process. For example, offer an online research tool, such as TrueCar, to help members begin the buying process when they are looking for new transportation. Encourage them, at several points, to investigate what their monthly payment would be. Advise them to get pre-approved for maximum bargaining power even before contacting the dealership. At the credit unions who are doing this, pre-approvals skyrocket ­– as do the loans closing through the credit union instead of through dealership financing.

Is it a fluke? No. Is this normal? Yes. Salesforce’s latest “State of Marketing” report surveyed almost 4,000 marketing leaders across various countries. Almost two-thirds of high performing marketers in this survey strongly agree that they have mapped a customer journey strategy as part of their overall business strategy. How does this compare with the underperformers? Only 7% of the underperformers build in the strategy. Likewise, more than 6 in 10 of the top lenders strongly agree that they are actively mapping the customer journey, compared to just 6% of underperformers.

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