The dynamic between innovation and technology is resulting in better experiences for consumers financing vehicles, said Bob Beatty, Executive Vice President and Chief Experience Officer of GM Financial, as he provided revealing insights and commentary in a keynote address during the recent Auto Finance Innovation Summit. The online event, held in late March, focused on the cutting-edge use of financial technology in the auto industry.
Bob’s “fireside chat” opened the second day of the summit and focused on how the auto industry is adapting new technologies to give consumers more options for financing and purchasing vehicles during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the sixth annual event sponsored by Auto Finance News and Royal Media.
“’Think customer’ has always been part of the GM Financial ethos,” Bob said, and was the guiding spirit for decisions the company made early in the COVID-19 pandemic. “We had to be aware that people had a lot going on in their lives then and a lot of things to worry about other than auto finance,” so the company offered various forms of customer support, including deferred loan payments, lease extensions, late-fee waivers and careful credit bureau reporting.
Bob maintains that the right customer experience begins when employees are working in a safe environment. He talked about how GM Financial very quickly moved more than 700 Customer Experience advocates to work-from-home status at the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. Despite the obstacles and new technology platforms required, the company was able to accomplish this in only a few days. He said that this was especially important for the working parents in the organization, who were dealing with children not in school.
Some other highlights of his remarks:
- GM Financial is investing heavily in data analytics, Bob said. “It’s our way forward because it becomes such a force multiplier.”
- Rapid upgrades to Nanci, an artificial intelligence-based chatbot that provides basic information to GM Financial customers, gave Customer Experience team members more time to deal with the customers who need more personalized service.
- He also announced that Nanci will soon have a voice and will begin handling customers’ telephone calls through the interactive voice response system.
- GM Financial will explore flexible working arrangements once the pandemic has ended, saying the company sees value in both in-office and work-from-home approaches.
One challenge of the work-from-home option is maintaining the company’s culture. He said that GM Financial has adapted technology solutions to keep employees engaged while at home and to make sure that career tracks stay on course. “No one wants their career put on pause because of the pandemic,” he said.