More than ever before, consumers are researching auto financing options online before they enter a dealership, changing the game for manufacturers, lenders and dealers that must now fine-tune their digital offerings to meet growing customer expectations. According to the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Consumer Financing Satisfaction Study,SM released today, the number of consumers who research financing options online prior to visiting a dealership is up significantly this year, and overall satisfaction with the consumer finance experience is significantly higher when customers have a good online experience.
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“Auto finance customers are more educated than ever and, as a result, they have a much higher expectation for a seamless digital experience that enables them to effortlessly search for vehicle features and local inventory as well as financing options and terms,” said Jim Houston, Senior Director of Automotive Finance Intelligence at J.D. Power. “The benchmark for a good digital experience is no longer other auto finance companies; rather, it’s consumer-facing sites like Amazon and Netflix that recognize what users are looking for and deliver the right information within one or two clicks.”
Following are key findings of the 2019 study:
- More consumers do online research before visiting a dealership: More than half (52%) of consumers research auto financing options prior to visiting a dealership, an increase of 5 percentage points from 2018. Overall satisfaction with the auto financing process is 23 points higher (on a 1,000-point scale) when research for auto finance options is conducted online in advance.
- Digital research changes customer journey: Consumers who digitally research auto finance options are not only more satisfied with the lending experience, but they are also more likely to receive a pre-approval; shop for a vehicle with the lender already chosen; select a lender based on reputation; and complete a digital application.
- Paper vs. digital: While the number of auto finance customers who select electronic/digital billing statements is up 6% this year, 41% still indicate they receive a traditional paper statement in the mail. More than two-thirds (68%) of those who receive a paper statement indicate they pay electronically, and 11% indicate they would switch to a digital statement if they were asked. The study shows that it is important for customers to be given billing and payment options at the onset of the financing relationship to maximize their customer experience.
- Bar is raised for website usability: Overall satisfaction with auto lenders climbs 138 points when customers report that the online bill pay function is “very easy to use.” Likewise, very easy reading/reviewing of billing statements and online bill pay scheduling each result in a 127-point increase in overall satisfaction, underscoring the importance customers place on lender website functionality.
Lexus Financial Services, Lincoln Automotive Financial Services and Mercedes-Benz Financial Services rank highest in a tie among luxury brands, each with a score of 867.
Ford Credit ranks highest among mass market brands, with a score of 873. Capital One Auto Finance (860) ranks second and GM Financial (854) ranks third.
The J.D. Power U.S. Consumer Financing Satisfaction Study measures overall customer satisfaction in five factors (listed alphabetically): billing and payment process; mobile app experience; onboarding process; origination process; and website experience. The study was fielded in July-August 2019 and is based on responses from 14,850 customers who financed a new or used vehicle through a loan or lease within the past four years.
For more information about the J.D. Power U.S. Consumer Financing Satisfaction Study, visit https://www.jdpower.com/business/resource/us-consumer-financing-satisfaction-study.
See the online press release at http://www.jdpower.com/pr-id/2019221.
J.D. Power is a global leader in consumer insights, advisory services and data and analytics. These capabilities enable J.D. Power to help its clients drive customer satisfaction, growth and profitability. Established in 1968, J.D. Power has offices serving North America, South America, Asia Pacific and Europe.
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