For higher customer satisfaction and more referrals, dealers should incorporate electronic components into the F&I process, a study by F&I Express and Make My Deal found.
Customers are significantly more satisfied and are much more likely to recommend a dealership when dealers incorporate an electronic signature, e-menu or e-contract into F&I operations, the study showed. But of the 500 respondents, only 100 actually had an experience with electronic processes in the F&I office.
“That tells you something about what a small percentage of customers out there today are going through electronic processes,” Brian Reed, CEO of product and technology provider F&I Express, told Automotive News.
“When was the last time you went to a grocery store and did not sign electronically? The customer norm is to use e-signatures everywhere but at the dealership,” he said.
Nearly three-quarters of respondents who had an electronic element were completely satisfied with the purchase experience, compared with 56 percent of participants who had a traditional pen-and-paper experience, according to the Digital F&I Experience Study, which was fielded in April and is expected to be released this week.
Sixty percent of those with an electronic F&I experience said they were very likely to recommend the dealer, while only 39 percent of respondents with a traditional F&I experience said they would suggest the dealer.
Satisfaction with time spent in the F&I office was a low 37 percent overall. But 49 percent of respondents who had at least one electronic component were completely satisfied, compared with 24 percent of participants with no electronic elements.
“On average respondents said if they could reduce their time in the F&I office by 27 minutes, their satisfaction would increase,” Reed said. “So speed in F&I office is important.”
Dealerships can speed up time in the F&I office by introducing products online, Reed said.
“When they go into the dealership, it will be a more transparent and efficient process because education has already taken place” online, he said.
Introducing F&I products online helps customers understand not only the products but also pricing and monthly payments, says Mike Burgiss, vice president and founder of Make My Deal, a Cox Automotive company that provides software enabling dealers and consumers to discuss and agree on the terms of a car deal online.
“Customer satisfaction is the primary driver to move F&I product sales to an online experience,” Burgiss told Automotive News.
But dealers benefit, too, he said. Online F&I sales put “dealers in control of pricing the products and offering them they way they want to offer them,” Burgiss said.
“We can complement both the way the consumer wants to do it and the way the dealer wants to do it.”