LAS VEGAS — Two auto lenders are changing the way their customers communicate with them throughout the lifecycle of their loans, senior executives revealed during the Auto Finance Summit this week.
Nonprime lender Veros Credit revealed that it had integrated WhatsApp — which allows users to send text messages and voice messages — onto its website as an additional communication option for customers.
WhatsApp was added to Veros’ website as a result of its broad Spanish-speaking demographic, which prefers to communicate through the app, Mark Medrano, assistant vice president of loss recovery, said during a panel discussion. The Santa Ana, Calif.-based lender launched the WhatsApp portal earlier this year.
“The messages just come right in, and it makes communication easy for our Hispanic demographic,” Medrano said, noting that Veros customers initiate the communication and never the other way around.
Separately, GM Financial has three projects in the works to ease the communication process for consumers. First, the captive is rolling out its Apple Business Chat (ABC) initiative this week, said Bob Beatty, executive vice president of customer experience at the captive. ABC has been in its pilot phase since September.
With ABC, consumers using Apple devices can search for “GM Financial” and will be able to launch a secure messaging platform with the captive rather than prompting a call to an 800-number. The customer will then be connected directly with one of the company’s agents.
Next, GM Financial is on track to “insert a new iteration” of its IBM Watson messaging bot this month, Beatty noted. “We are planning on containing about 20% of messages coming from customers to the bot, and it’ll transfer the questions to the customer experience center,” he explained.
Lastly, in late December, the captive will launch a function that will give consumers the option to choose if they would rather do business over the phone or text, Beatty said. “If you are on a cell phone but you’d rather do business over text, the customer initiates the preference by saying ‘yes’ and we’ll send them a text and migrate that to IBM Watson enabled messaging systems,” he explained.
While these customer experience initiatives ease the consumer journey, the benefits are not just for the customer, but the business as well, Beatty noted. “If we can have a bot handling routine questions, that gives our team members more opportunity to have a meaningful conversation,” he said.