“Brand” No Longer Guarantees Retention
Forrester Research recently released analysis on trends arguing that “brand value” won’t be enough to guarantee customer retention in a post-COVID world. The author, Forrester VP Dipanjan Chatterjee, suggests that vanguards like Wells Fargo and Bank of America should look to what the new breed of consumer lending are doing and apply their approach moving forward. Today, declining “brand equity” is leaving space for companies like Apple, Amazon, and Walmart to fill in the consumer lending industry.
Frankly, it’s not surprising news. Prior to the COVID crisis, traditional banks were already being lumped together rather than maintaining a unique identity. Furthermore, public perception of the value of said brands is dropping as well. Paradigm shifting events combined with the homogenizing of brand identities, have led to a dramatic reduction in brand equity for what were once the most powerful groups in the industry. The same has happened in equipment finance, with the most established brands ceding ground to independents that are more agile.
There is Opportunity on the Horizon!
Chatterjee articulates the path forward. Brands that are looking to fill the need left by the old guard: relevance and relationship. Companies that have shown flexibility during the COVID crisis have been rewarded with new opportunities. We’ve heard from brokers that deal flow has actually increased during COVID. However, traditional funding sources have turned down deals that ultimately went to more flexible teams that could also process faster. And with equipment finance being a business based on long-term relationships, there’s tremendous opportunity to establish brand equity and retain those new customers.
Nonetheless, there is sustained demand for financing despite less distinction among legacy funding sources, an undercurrent of mistrust in some finance brands, and a need for more flexible products and terms with more efficient and consumer-friendly processing. There’s also a roadmap to finding success in this new vacuum, and it happens to be through implementing organizational principles that are already strong in the equipment finance space.
Building relationships is second nature to successful asset finance companies. The best examples act as an ally to their client, navigating the tricky world of leasing to make securing equipment easy, fast, and simple. The elite examples go deeper, not just serving as a consultant but as a friend, emotionally invested in the growth of their clients’ businesses alongside them. That kind of value is tough to articulate, but all of us buy with our hearts.
Relevance, on the other hand, is about keeping that clients’ attention once you have it. You might give a sweetheart deal to land a client, but what are you going to do after the deal is done to keep that business and convert it into more and more opportunities? Offering access anytime, anywhere is step one. Providing value once your client has decided to engage is step two. What value can you give that they couldn’t get with their previous funding source? Yeah, they like you, but why should they keep sending you deals once that sweetheart deal goes away? If relationships guide buying decisions of the heart, relevance drives decisions of the mind.
What is the Role of Technology in Building Relevance and Relationship?
For Leasepath, we consider this to be your million dollar question.
The answer drives us every day to create more benefits for you in our products. Efficiency in the sales process leading to fast originations. Empowering customer service by centralizing all data in one single source. Providing immediate engagement with partner and vendor portals. It could be any of these advantages, or all of them, but it has to be something. Technology makes your business easier to work with; being easier to work with improves brand equity, leading to more business. There’s a direct correlation to implementing a platform that empowers your business, and that business becoming more relevant. Availability, ease of use, fast engagement, adaptability; all of these are tools storied brands such as Apple leveraged to build their relevance in the marketplace that led to their consumer funding model’s immediate success.
Technology will also empower your team to do what equipment finance professionals do best: build relationships. Focus for a moment on the sales process and agree that a good CRM platform can lead to a more efficient sales process. That efficiency not only frees up resources to focus on building those relationships, it leads to less friction within the sales cycle, more consistent communication to the client, and greater satisfaction at the end of the sales cycle. It’s relationship building via competency. You’re no longer just the preferred option because you spent time getting to know their business, you’re also the best option to enable their business to thrive.
These are the hallmarks of the Leasepath offerings.
Flexibility is Key
Fostering your relationships and building your brand’s relevance in the marketplace are crucial for growth. No surprise there. But there’s another factor to include that enables rapid growth in both of those values at the same time. Agility is absolutely crucial in 2020 and beyond, and the sad truth is most businesses aren’t built for it. The equation going forward is simple:
Relevance + Relationship + Agility = Retention
Imagine a customer returns to you in the midst of COVID, needing creative finance options. Your software platform allows you to manipulate the rates and add irregular payment considerations in seconds. You return to your client within moments with a special terms package that fits their unique needs, and you’ve done so immediately. You’ve now offered something that no one else can. Just like that, you’ve won hearts and minds.
Agile businesses will fill the vacuum left by legacy brands, and they’ll do so rapidly as COVID continues to reshape the asset finance landscape as we know it. Your brand can help fill that vacuum, but you’ll need an agile, forward-thinking software platform to do it.
That’s where Leasepath comes in. We come to work everyday excited to use our platform to provide the Intelligent Workplace to our users. Leasepath is committed to our free, quarterly, cloud-pushed product updates that work immediately. Just like our users, we need to build relationships and relevance, and we do that by working hard to constantly evolve the platform when changes to their business, and the world, occur. We provide these benefits without the need to pay for every little upgrade, as Leasepath is a true cloud-first platform. We build and deliver the Intelligent Workplace, and our brand is built on the agility and commitment to our clients’ ongoing success that comes with it.