Innovation is one of our core values. As a leader in automotive financing, we are always looking for ways to use technology to make it easier for customers to do business with us.
We’ve had great success in getting customers to move to digital communications and payments. In less than three years, 81% of our customers have consented to communicate electronically with us and over 50% have taken the next step of selecting digital statements as a preference.
Our consumers using electronic payment plans now outnumber those sending us mailed checks by four to one, with at least 65% of our payment dollars coming via digital devices. SAFCO’s AutoPay option lets customers automatically schedule their payments without incurring a processing fee. Our free AutoPay allows a customer to select the amount and frequency of their payments.
We’ve been very deliberate in focusing on digital channels. Here’s how we did it:
Prioritize Digital Channels
Leading up to our website revamp in 2017, we had many discussions about the ways we wanted to enhance how we service accounts. More customers were emailing us, so we knew digital was gaining steam. At the time, we had limited texting and no chat capability, but we saw great potential in expanding texting, particularly two-way, and adding chat as avenues for customers to reach SAFCO.
Ensure Opt-In Is Super Easy
We first identified ways to simplify consent for digital communications while also offering appropriate opt out and preference changes. We steadily implemented new contact strategies, responded to all correspondence and analyzed results. Specific steps included:
- Using pop-up boxes in the SAFCO Terms & Conditions on the website to prompt customers to enroll for digital communications right then and there online, but also offering to send an electronic consent form by fax, email or mail.
- Highlighting digital communications offered by SAFCO in customer welcome calls.
- Detailing electronic options in welcome letters.
Train the Team
Every employee who has any possible interaction with a customer was taught how to discuss digital options. Then, our loan servicing team was extensively trained in how to communicate in the manner the customer prefers – phone, text, email or chat. For example, customers who can’t talk during the day at work need other options, such as email and texts. Service team members make sure to offer customers the right solutions at the right time. Employees also learned how not to communicate. For example, they can’t use emojis or abbreviated words. Communication must be professional and compliant with regulations.
Analyze and Adapt
SAFCO utilizes tracking software for our complaint management process. All data is reviewed and analyzed to ensure all policies and procedures were followed. SAFCO also uses the data to enhance and change existing policies or procedures to better suit customer needs.
For example, as SAFCO developed our texting strategy, we took into account the ease a customer could opt out. In doing so, we designed our campaigns where they added value to the customer. We limit the amount of texts a customer may receive and we include valuable links within the applicable messages. This approach has helped SAFCO substantially beat the industry average on opt-out percentages for digital communication.
We also regularly monitor our data to analyze the effectiveness and impact of AutoPay. Currently, AutoPay accounts are four times less likely to become delinquent (greater than one day past due) than accounts that are not enrolled.
Develop a Culture to Keep People in Their Vehicles
Communication is very important in our industry. We want to make sure our customers get every opportunity to make their payments and keep possession of their vehicles. At the beginning of the relationship, we request that customers tell us when they are struggling financially. Regular contact can make us aware of a situation, provide possible solutions to assist the customer, and reduce costs in unnecessary or additional collection strategies.
We have found two-way texting extremely helpful in these situations. If we alert a customer that a payment is past due and the customer responds by saying he or she is getting paid later that week and can make a payment then, we can acknowledge and thank them for that information.
Our push for digital adoption and continued flexibility to improve customer satisfaction never ends. We continue to analyze customer feedback and hold town hall meetings with employees to update protocols and discuss how we’re doing.
SAFCO, a client of Nordis Technologies, is a national auto finance company that is based in Florida. SAFCO is a preferred non-prime auto lender to some of the largest U.S. dealer groups.
About the Author
Dan Baggett serves as the Vice President of Operations and Compliance for SAFCO. In this role, he is responsible for directing the day-to-day operations of the organization, identifying and implementing best practices, maintaining quality standards and ensuring compliance with all appropriate requirements, regulations and guidelines. Dan is a certified compliance professional through the NAF Association. Previously, he served as the Quality Assurance and Compliance Manager. In this role, he was responsible for creating an internal quality assurance and audit program for various departments within SAFCO. Dan began his career with SAFCO in the buying department as a Credit Analyst and then a Credit Supervisor. Prior to joining SAFCO, he served as a Personal Banker with Wells Fargo and a Senior Account Representative with HSBC Consumer Lending. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business Management and International Business from Iowa State University.
Vice President of Operations and Compliance, SAFCO