That was the message to delegates at the International Auto Finance Network conference from David Betteley, Global Financial Services Director at Jaguar Land Rover.
He revealed how loyalty improves among buyers who use finance compared to cash purchasers.
The increase varies across manufacturers, but on average it rises to 55% compared to 48% for cash buyers.
A key additional benefit is that finance customers tend to purchase more often, which increases their value to the manufacturer.
This means that the role of finance captives has become more integral to a manufacturer’s service offering compared to how it was historically viewed.
Betteley said: “If you look at the role that financial services has performed, it really was sales support in the early days. Cars were very expensive and they had to help people to pay for them on a monthly basis. I think in the eighties and nineties it became all about loyalty to financial services and how to retain people at the end of the contract. We are still a big retention tool, we are still very important in the customer change cycle, but increasingly it’s customer interaction.”
Engaging with customers will become more important with the rise of new mobility services, ranging from car sharing to autonomous vehicles.
“It’s about lifetime value. It’s loyalty, retention, and the data that financial services have on a customer over a long period that’s really valuable.”
However, he warned that customers were becoming increasingly aware of the value placed on data about them.
He said: “I think customers will want to own their data and they’ll be very sparing with who they share it with. So, I think the customer will become more important. The days of having massive lists where you can send letters or emails out or communication to customers are over. I think it’s going to have to be a lot more targeted in the future.”