Do you remember the time when smartphones didn’t exist? It’s been around that long! The modern day smartphone was introduced by Steve Jobs on June 29, 2007, over thirteen years ago. Today, smartphones are an integral part of our lives. Imagine leaving your home for work, an important remote meeting or a casual day with your family. You suddenly realize your left your smartphone back at home. What do you do? PANIC! Instantly the day’s priorities change and you must go back home and retrieve your smartphone. Truthfully, it’s so important to have our smartphones with us, we rarely leave it behind. Same is true if you misplaced your smartphone, sheer terror sets in as you frantically retrace your steps.

Smartphones are an integral part of our lives because it many ways it enhances and is necessary in our daily engagements. Yes, it’s true smartphones can be a distraction to human interaction, if not properly used. However, we easily stay connected with those we choose to stay connected with using our smartphones (business and personal). Smartphones help us navigate the world. Single purpose portable GPS systems are now irrelevant and in-vehicle GPS systems are almost completely unnecessary, because we have our smartphones. Exploring new places is easier than ever with the resources we have just few taps away. If you needed assistance before the modern smartphone, you would dial 411 on your flip or house phone (for those not old enough…dialing 411 was a way to get local phone number directory assistance to help us connect with a person or business and a house phone was something that was connected to a physical hard wire). Remember printing out your driving directions on MapQuest, not too far away from carrying around a local street maps? Shopping has been transformed with our smartphones too. Whether using an Amazon-like online retailer or preparing an order for curbside pickup, it’s just a better experience than going to the grocery store for example and burning an hour rolling up and down the aisles (which few people still enjoy), then standing in line where the person in front of you has a pricing concern at the checkout (which everyone hates). “There’s an hour of my life I’m never going to get back!”

Ask yourself…how much time do you spend navigating the world on your smartphone?

There are two primary barriers that exist with many things in life…time and money. For many it seems there is never enough of either one. Although one can strive to earn more money, managing your time is something much more controllable. If I could give you an extra hour everyday to embrace in your life, how much would that be worth? Regaining time is a massive cornerstone to why smartphones have been universally adopted. Time is also a significant measurement of a customer’s experience. However, don’t be fooled by exclusively considering how long it takes to do something as a successful measurement of a great experience, because it also depends on how we’re are engaging it. Many F&I third party administrators (TPAs) measure customer experience by CALL HOLD WAIT TIMES. Is being ON HOLD a good experience when the only way to connect is a phone call, irregardless of the time on hold? Having to call a TPA 1800 number as the primary service pathway is closer dialing 411 or finding a phone book then it is to today’s gold standard of an Amazon-like experience. When I hear a TPA is upgrading their phone system as their primary investment to improve their customer’s experience, it sounds like buying a new saddle to make the long horse and covered wagon commute easier to tolerate, when they should be looking for another mode of transportation.

Ask yourself…how much time do you spend navigating the world on your smartphone? The same is true for your dealers and their customers, because they value their time as much as you do. It also applies to the very important TPAs’ claim teams. They are spending too much time answering calls and manually entering claims because that is today’s primary process. Archaic fill-in-all-the-blanks online claim forms deployed by some TPAs are still an analog solution, because the customer or service advisor has to fill out a form (typically providing personal or vehicle information the TPA already has), which then usually leads to a phone call/manual claim processing. It’s not good a good experience for anyone involved. Additionally, a claims app that only works with certain F&I products or one TPA are also part of the “disconnected from reality” engagement nightmare, because we live in a multiple TPA world. Think about it, how many F&I products does a typical dealer offer? 7, 8, 9, 10 or more. Through how many TPAs? It’s always more than one…usually 3, 4 or more. As a direct result, how many engagement pathways currently exist for the service advisor or customer to navigate when F&I claim support is needed? How many of those pathways are modern or connected, leading the dealership to increased revenue and more meaningful customer retention? It’s analog anarchy! What should this look like in 2020?

This is the very place where F&I leaders can make a profound and relevant impact on their dealer’s revenue and their customer’s experience (and by direct linkage their own revenue and retention). Leaders have emerged and are emerging wielding the transformative power of Your Dealer Experience (YDE). Your customers are waiting for you (or someone else) to deliver Digital Lifecycle, beyond digital retailing. Digital engagement and a customer’s experience is today’s battlefield where business is earned, retained or lost…and it’s not achieved with 1800 numbers, phone queues and manual claim processing. TPA leaders, keep your current phone and admin systems, but plug-in an award winning and proven solution that makes the right connection to new revenue conduits, relevant competitive differentiation, removing long standing inefficiencies and elevating our industry’s currency to the “experience” of owning these valuable F&I products. Click here to follow us.