Ford Credit launched two pilot programs this spring, prompted by one question: What does the data tell us?
As Ford Motor Co.'s captive finance company pored through J.D. Power benchmarking data and its own customer satisfaction index, it found that customers weren't happy with the experience at the end of a lease. They called the process confusing and stressful.
"We really looked at the data. We looked at customer verbatims and the fact that we know that 300,000 customers" each year can renew their relationship with the company or let it expire, said Krista Conyers, director of customer experience for Ford Credit. "We knew we can make a direct impact right now today with those customers."
Ford Credit's findings inspired the pilots, which began in April: personal lease assistants — a team that knows the details of a customer's account and begins working with the customer four months before the end of the lease term — and "Drive New. Now" — a platform that gives customers a personalized offer for their next lease from their originating dealership.
Auto lenders have long used their massive data pools for credit decisions, but today many are using datasets to work better with their customers, such as how the customers want to communicate and which products they find appealing. It's only in the past few years that such efforts — long used in commercial banking — have trickled into auto financing, said Jim Houston, senior director of J.D. Power's automotive finance practice.