More than Just Money: Why Customer Service Matters in Financing
When Concerto Windows signed a partnership giving its dealers the opportunity to start offering point-of-sale consumer financing on its products it wanted more than just a bank to provide financing. The manufacturer of all-weather windows and doors knew its national network of dealers were not trained to use sales financing, and it wanted a program that would support them. It decided to start a partnership with a specialty instalment credit company that would provide training and ongoing support. The result was its dealer network learning how to properly use consumer financing and how affordable payment options could assist them help their customers get the windows they wanted, helping sales.
The Importance of B2B Customer Service
When customer service is typically discussed the focus is on stories from the retail and service industries, or other business-to-consumer (B2C) situations such as hotels. However, business-to-business (B2B) customer service is equally – if not more – important. The training provided to Concerto dealers is an example of B2B customer service, and how important it can be. As well as training, B2B customer service covers services such as support centres for merchants to ring, marketing advice and ongoing training when needed. Participants in a 2013 study by Dimensional Research into B2C and B2B customer service not only ranked quality customer service as the number-one factor impacting trust, but 62% said it increased the amount of B2B business they did with a company. Customer service consultant and author Micah Solomon says quality of B2B customer service should actually be considered more important than B2C because the per-relationship values are typically larger.
The Impact of Quality Customer Service
Because of this it is critical to gauge the quality of customer service you are receiving, especially when you are a manufacturer or wholesaler retailing through a network of dealers. Fostering trust and providing support across a network can be fraught with difficulties – yet it is a cornerstone for success. This is especially true when it comes to running programs such as consumer financing, where many dealers may lack the training or background on how to use it effectively. US research institute Gallup Inc. argues quality customer service should provide meaningful change to productivity or profitability. To do this it should help a business:
- use its products and services more efficiently or effectively;
- identify unseen opportunities;
- enhance marketplace standing;
- and have a broader effect on cost structure.
In other words, quality customer service is about more than simply a friendly smile and nice telephone manner (although this is always a good place to start). Instead, Gallup consultants Ed O’Boyle and Craig Kamins, who published the research, argue quality customer service hinges on high levels of expertise and in-depth knowledge of businesses and their marketplaces, to provide tangible benefits.
Customer Service in Financing
Quality customer service when it comes to a consumer financing partnership means helping an entire network of dealers grasp what can be a daunting new sales tool. This starts with providing training but needs to include ongoing support to ensure they are confident and competent when it comes to using point-of-sale consumer financing. Training should be in-person, practical and address the various issues pertinent to all of your different dealers, whether they need to know how to incorporate affordability into product sales and presentation or how to properly fill in the necessary documents. The key is finding a financing partner who is as committed to your dealers and their sales successes as you are. “There is no point having the best financing program out there if none of your dealers are using it because there is no service or support,” explains Nick Carter, Vice President of Quality Assurance at Crelogix, who has spent 40 years in sales financing. “It’s like buying a Lamborghini if you live in the middle of nowhere. You might have the best car around but there is no service or parts to support around it so you can’t use it properly.”