The digital revolution has created a buyers market for car loans by making it easy for potential customers to compare rates and service levels. This puts form design on the front line when it comes to securing new business. While form designers do all they can to create frictionless forms that are easy to complete, sometimes users still need a helping hand.
To provide additional comfort and support, many car loan application forms include customer service details. We take a look at two of the main options – a visible phone number and a live chat function – and discuss the pros and cons of each approach.
Does Anyone Ever Call Customer Services?
There are plenty of reasons why someone might want to speak to a customer service representative while completing a car loan form:
- Does this application show up on my credit history?
- How quickly will I get a decision?
- When will I have to make my first repayment?
- How quickly can I get the money?
These are all fairly common questions that potential customers might ask before they even start the application. But if your form fails to make the answers clear, you could be losing out on potential customers.
Even if someone begins the application they could be stopped in their tracks as they’re confronted with terms like APR. Not comprehending details like this can make people fear that they’re getting in too deep or that they’re being tricked into doing something they don’t understand the consequences of.
While some forms will use design to provide additional information, like revealing definitions of terms with hover-over question marks, this may not be enough for some individuals. Without the option to talk to a real person, they may abandon the form.
For those who feel nervous but complete the form, they may not feel confident enough to take up a loan if an offer is made. In a competitive market, neither of these scenarios is helpful in securing more customers.
Hanging on the Telephone
Although putting a phone number on your website may feel like a step backwards in the digital age, research supports the idea that making your business available to customers develops trust. Yet many websites bury their customer service phone number three or four links deep creating an extremely frustrating customer experience.
Make it this difficult for your form users to get in touch and they may be inclined to leave your site and go to one of your competitors.
I recently conducted research into the forms of 45 UK car loan providers and found that 48% displayed their contact details on the form with 19% using a live chat function. If yours is one of the 33% of businesses failing to do the same, you could be missing a trick.
My analysis found that there are various ways that phone numbers are displayed on car loan form applications. Lloyds TSB have a contact us section visible on the right hand side of the screen as the user completes the form. It requires one click on the + sign to reveal the phone number and opening hours.
Admiral take a different approach leaving their contact details and availability visible all the time reducing the need for the user to click.
They also include warmer language asking the user whether they need help with their loan thus giving the user confidence that they’ve found the right number. Midland Credit take a similar approach but drop the opening times in favour of call cost, anticipating and removing another common stumbling block in one fell swoop.
One of the main challenges with phone lines is that they are often busy and customers are placed on hold. Unless your business is lucky enough to only attract potential customers who have plenty of spare time and enjoy hold music, you could have a challenge on your hands.
Is Livechat the Future of Customer Service?
My research revealed that just 19% of car loan providers use live chat as an alternative to phone calls. This method inserts a pop up on a form when the system detects that a user is struggling or appears as an optional drop-down that a customer can click to access support.
Key to the success of the live chat function is making its presence obvious without being intrusive. The bottom right-hand corner is an often under-utilised space on websites as users spend most of their time looking at the left-hand side of the screen. This is the prime real estate for your form so it makes sense for live chat screens to sit to the right.
Prominent design will help your customers find your live chat function more easily and there should be a button to expand or decrease it so they can type or close it down once it’s no longer required. This will allow them to get on with the rest of your form without any trouble.
Does Instant Access Trump a Human Voice?
The obvious benefit of live chat is that someone is immediately available to answer your questions. The move from voice to text in social media is well documented and this approach may be more acceptable to younger people who prefer to type than talk.
However, while customer service agents can be trained to communicate sensitively, the comfort of a human voice is missing from this approach. And the potential for misunderstandings may be greater than during a conversation when fluctuations in tone and emphasis can be used to aid comprehension.
That said, different people prefer to communicate in different ways and some customers may prefer the breathing space that typing provides allowing them time to gather their thoughts and explain them clearly.
Investing in live chat technology is expensive. Which is why it’s important to embed analytics early on in the testing of any new service. Evaluating the form both with and without customer service details or live chat could reveal some interesting results in terms of form completion rates.
Cross-reference the cost of providing additional customer services resources with the change in conversion rates to see whether the investment is worth it.
Providing customer service contact details is a good way to offer support to your customers at every stage of your form. The question remains, which method will work best for your customers: phone or live chat?