Author Ugne Kontare
Remember the time when we all used the yellow pages and asked our neighbours or people we trusted when we needed some service or product? Life has changed and our best neighbour now is Google Search… Although we all know that internet search is our most important friend, when it comes to their leasing website most asset finance companies somehow tend to overlook this trend. What makes me think that?
First of all, when was the last time you renewed your website, both the design and the content management system? At the beginning of the year 2000? That’s certainly the impression I get looking at hundreds of leasing-company websites, especially in the US and Germany. Come on guys, you are supposed to be countries of hi-tech and innovation! Even if it was last done in 2013, that’s too long ago, as technology, business requirements and customer habits change quickly.
We have abandoned so many things since 2000 – I don’t think many companies use fax machines anymore; most changed to smart phones, some moved their business to the cloud. Does anyone remember what a floppy disk is?? So why does your website show that you are a company from the past? Unfortunately, “old” does not mean trustworthy in this case.
Anyway, there are many things that are wrong in the world. Let’s rather talk about how to look like an innovative and reliable leasing company, and get all those X-Y-Z generation guys as your customers.
Be clear in what you offer
There is a rule that works for any business: if you want to get a customer, think like a customer… As a customer, I came to your website to investigate what leasing options you can offer me. So tell me that right away – I don’t want to hear how beautiful you are, or register for your newsletter at this stage; I need that 2013 Nissan for my husband (hmm, who am I kidding here – the Nissan would be for me :). My husband would prefer a Subaru…). Or a solar panel for my company. Or a harvester for my fields. Or whatever alternatives you can offer.
So the first thing I’d like to see would probably be the equipment catalogue and Lease Calculator – how much will I need to pay per month if I choose 24 months, and what’s the difference in numbers if I choose 48 months and a different down-payment. Fast quote – and you have a prospect satisfied with your initial service, while the prospect has the information he’s been looking for.
Be simple to work with
As SelfCo Leasing, one of our customers, mentioned: they chose us because “The Soft4Leasing consultant was very measured in giving an answer to our questions about the capabilities. The other point is that they have been prompt and professional”. Isn’t that what you would like to hear about your company, too? So why not provide your prospects with the opportunity to register (and in return, you receive more information about your prospect), play various lease scenarios, save their lease configuration, and if they are ready, apply online?
Also, think about the alternatives you can offer so as not to lose the prospect. Maybe there are some promos from manufacturers or some assets you’d like to push more. Can your visitor find that information easily; is it offered next to the lease quote, so he could compare?
At SOFT4, our policy is to reply to any enquiry within 8 working hours. Usually we reply within 1 or 2, but you know, just in case. Our visitors always get a message with the reply time once they send the form from the Soft4Leasing or any other SOFT4 website.
But when it’s my turn to be a customer/prospect, to tell the truth, I am afraid to send messages online. Why? Because either the form is not working, or it is not clear which fields are mandatory; or the form is sent without any “thank you” message afterwards, so I am not sure whether it was sent at all; or I get the message “our representative will contact you soon”. Well, “soon” is quite an arguable term, isn’t it? “Soon” has a different meaning when you are waiting in a line to buy fruit and when you are waiting to go to the restroom… And as you are most probably not the only one in the market offering leasing, your prospect might be gone by the time your “soon” comes around.
That was exactly what happened recently with DocuSign – a solution we wanted to integrate into Soft4Leasing to ensure a paperless office for our leasing customers. I got the reply “Our representatives will be in touch”, waited for 6 days, wrote again, and 2 weeks later I am still waiting. And I am sure there are other providers with a better response time. Hopefully DocuSign have more partners than they can handle, but we can’t accept this kind of waiting time when dealing with our customers who want to get an issue solved right away.
Most of us agree to pay a bit extra for a timely response and professional service.
What you can do: set a time frame for responding to enquiries, inform your peers company-wide and check how well the commitment is kept. During weekly meetings, for example: how many enquiries did we receive? What was the fastest and slowest response time? What can we do to improve the response time? Believe me, by just having a response time on your website you will outperform 98% of other leasing companies who do not.
Stand out from the crowd
In other words, be creative. I recently saw a lease calculator on one automotive leasing company’s website that looked like a speed dashboard.
The same function completed, but a different feeling left. And if other conditions are met, well, we are still a “bread and circuses” nation, aren’t we? So we like to be entertained.
I used to say that website design is not very important as long as it provides the results. I still think that the most important goal of a website is to give results – for any type of company: leads, opportunities, sales, data for market research etc. But next to that, it is always more pleasant and reliable to provide my data to a website that looks professional and up-to-date. Most of us would prefer new clothes to second-hand ones, and to drive a new car rather than a used one, wouldn’t we? The modern design creates the same impression, and the first impression matters.
If you’d like more tips on what is important for creating your website, check my colleague Laura’s blog “Creating a website? 11 critical elements you don’t want to miss”
In the leasing business, we can distinguish 6 stages, each of them requiring different marketing actions and support. Those stages are:
1. Orientation or “curiosity” phase
2. Lease Application phase
3. Review phase
4. Lease Contract phase
5. In-life or Operation phase
6. End-of-life or Lease Expiration/Termination phase
I will review what’s important in each of these stages from a marketing perspective in my next leasing marketing blog. Enjoy the summer!