If everything seems to be in control, you're not going fast enough.”
- Mario Andretti, champion racing car driver

In the world of automotive racing, speed is paramount. When it comes to automotive financing, speed is equally important. However, it is not enough to just move faster. The race to engage and capture new business requires agility, coordination, and control. In this article, I continue my writings on adaptive case management by focusing on how it is being successfully applied in automotive and equipment financing.

I have had the opportunity recently to review a number of process improvement initiatives for lending, leasing and financing. There is a common theme that emerges. The business executives in these case studies do not fixate on internal cost cutting; rather they focus on serving the customer better and winning market share. Here is where I think adaptive case management can shine as a way to help differentiate business practices. This is especially true in three areas where case management helps redefine and deliver financing speed:

  • Providing the “pit crew” for efficient paperless funding
  • Driving a great experience from the customer’s perspective
  • Staying on track with guided decision making

Delivering Efficient Paperless Funding

In automotive racing, the pit crew is responsible for managing and ensuring the vehicle has proper fuel levels, tires, repairs, mechanical adjustments or even a driver change. They orchestrate the process of stopping in the pit which often determines the outcome as much as what occurs on the race track.

For automotive and equipment financing, adaptive case management is like the pit crew. Information is the fuel that feeds the process. But the information is too often trapped and bogged down in paper with labor intensive, disjointed and error-prone tasks. Going paperless is the first step and then capturing that information in the context of the case means activity can be streamlined throughout the process and workloads balanced for greater efficiency.

For Nissan Motor Acceptance Corporate (NMAC) of North America, where over 45,000 loans approvals per month are handled, paperless means they are able to handle huge volumes of contracts with a lean staff.

From its Customer Center in Dallas, Texas, NMAC serves retailers across the United States. NMAC has greater control and accountability for the work being done because the volume of contracts can be balanced among the agents, keeping the flow of work and processes steady. They provide productivity reports to management that provide important insight into individual productivity, to identify issues and prevent process bottlenecks.

For another firm, one of the leading captive financial services providers in the world, adaptive case management represents the means to orchestrate their entire process from the dealer to booking the deal. Content management capabilities address the upfront scanning, indexing and validation to manage their paper, reducing handling costs and data entry errors. Verification can then occur on an automated basis, images organized into "Case Folders" which can be easily navigated and routed. And, through adaptive case management, real time process reporting again helps achieve results with improved workload management.

Focusing on the Customer Experience

The financing arms of large automotive manufacturers collectively deal with millions of loan and leasing applications each month. To ensure success they need to turn these applications around and fund dealers quickly with a streamlined customer experience. Their focus is on being the first choice for dealership and consumer financing to maintain strong customer loyalty.

One of the most impressive customer experience improvement results I’ve seen is the NMAC implementation. NMAC had been experiencing significant delays in responding to dealership questions. They typically took a message and called them back when they had an answer. Now they answer questions immediately because the contract information is right there on the screen.

The improvements are truly end-to-end across the value chain. Integration with credit systems facilitates a seamless process of obtaining credit approval, reviewing contracts, creating receivables and triggering electronic funds transfer to pay dealers.

A leading automaker’s European financing arm took days to grant their loans before implementing case management. Now their case management solution ensures the coordination of all the documents related to a new request for credit. For each request the dealer initiates a new “case.” The list of required documents is identified and tracked throughout the credit process to meet their target goal -- to approve or reject a new leasing request in 30 minutes. This has greatly improved the customer experience, with loan granting reduced to minutes or as they say, “the time it takes the customer to choose their options.”

In fact, adaptive case management can serve as a platform for implementing improvements across the board to improve customer experience and engagement. One best practice implementation I reviewed included not just leasing and credit processing, but also dealer contract management, sponsorship management, order and delivery, and claims management.

Guided Decision Making Improves Knowledge Work

One of the most difficult challenges impacting the leasing and financing process is the ability to deal with regional regulations, tax rules and credit requirements. Nissan has successfully met that challenge and cut the time to process loans and fund dealers faster, all while gaining 20% staff productivity in the process, in large part by employing guided decision making. They enable speed through better control over critical operations by providing instant access to records, information and rules across loan agents for multiple regional units.

Before, people were prepared to handle only the tax questions and other state-specific issues for their regions. As a consequence one unit could be flooded with contracts and another unit slow. It was easy for contracts to get misfiled, routed to the wrong unit, stuck in a drawer, or misplaced.

Now, instead of dividing the work among 10 units based on state or region, NMAC has what they refer to as “universal agents,” that is, all agents are universally available to handle contracts for any state. With adaptive case management providing the knowledge “guard rails,” firms like Nissan can ensure each application speeds through the necessary steps while still maintaining compliance with credit requirements, tax rules and government regulations.

For all of the examples shared here, using adaptive case management to process loans faster -- more efficiently and effectively -- means customers leave their dealer lots in cars sooner. This translates to a competitive advantage for these firms in their race to capture and keep the customer.

Editor's Note: To read more from Deb Miller's Adaptive Case Management series: