In a world that tells us the customer is always right, something’s gone wrong with how asset finance companies are sold their software. Rather than keeping their clients happy, many technology vendors seem content to hold firms hostage – with inflexible systems and contracts that fail to satisfy their (and their customers’) requirements.
Like the majority of businesses, lessors are most successful when they meet customers’ demands and expectations head-on. Increasingly, that means giving them the freedom to choose how, when and where they consume their products, through on-demand digital services.
As well as a digital customer experience, consumers are looking for a greater choice of solutions. The growth of the sharing economy and rise of mobility services like Uber and Lyft are disrupting traditional leasing models by offering new levels of convenience and flexibility.
Today’s customers don’t want to be tied down. Lengthy contractual commitments are out and subscription-based or pay-per-use services are in. Again, agile digital services will be key to bringing these business models to life for auto and equipment financiers alike.
In short, technology is critical to giving customers the asset finance services they want. But as consumers of technology, auto and equipment finance firms are customers in their own right. And their providers often fail to deliver the flexibility that they also require to support growth.
For too long, vendors have effectively held their clients captive and created a culture of dependency that puts the provider, not the customer, firmly in charge.
Locked into long contracts, firms have struggled to adapt their platforms to new requirements and lines of business without paying for costly upgrades – always on the provider’s terms.
Rather than supporting the client’s new direction, the vendor typically dictates the timelines for any changes; either insisting on a costly, wholesale replacement of your platform or leaving you stuck with legacy technology.
And when platforms don’t evolve, they are less likely to accommodate the emerging technologies that can transform and turbo-charge origination and credit decisioning processes.
For example, artificial intelligence, facial recognition and advances in open banking will all help replace slow manual processes with seamless, paperless transactions that take minutes, not days.
Ideally, your vendor should take a partnership approach that allows you to explore these innovative, disruptive new capabilities. So, while your platform must meet all your basic transactional requirements, it should also integrate easily with other third-party solutions – and be easy to reconfigure as you add new business lines and models.
Modern ways of delivering software can increase your platform’s agility further. For example, managed services offer flexible, often usage-based access to technology for a monthly fee that covers the costs of licensing, maintaining and hosting your solution, with regular software updates included.
At the same time, modular solutions will allow you to implement new, specialist functionality a little at a time. As a result, you can get systems up and running quickly and reduce the costs and risks of end-to-end implementations.
Ultimately, it’s your right to choose the solutions and services that best meet your needs – and the right technology partner will give you the freedom to evolve in line with customer expectations.
To keep your customers happy, your vendor needs to keep you happy, too. Don’t let traditional software models hold you to ransom.