How F&I Meets Buyer ‘Techspectations’

Gamification has come to the F&I office, where new technology is driving more interactive — and more productive — processes.
By: Jim Maxim Jr.

How F&I Meets Buyer ‘Techspectations’

When you hear the term “gamification,” it probably conjures up ideas of entertainment and fun. On the surface, that would seem to be a distraction in the business world and the focused processes within F&I. But gamification has been taking hold over the last few decades in places like progressive learning institutions and the military, and its benefits to those disciplines means similar rewards to your business and the dealerships you serve.

Great Techspectations

Gamification employs video game technology to redesign complex, densely layered and annoying processes and transforms the way they are accessed, understood and transacted. Some people are book people, but more and more people would rather watch the movie than read the book. The same goes for presenting products. Rather than reading descriptive paragraphs, people want to engage with the content and immediately understand what it means to them.

F&I platforms that use gamification technology and this new approach to selling F&I products transform workflow into a visually clean, enjoyable, simple and very user-friendly process. This metamorphosis occurs through the sophisticated but easy–to-use presentation of graphics, sounds, movement and imagery that breaks down the processes into bite-size portions that are easily digestible for the consumer.

Speaking of bite size, Pizza Hut gamifies the pizza ordering process to sell more of its products with tabletop interactive menus. Look at this video (https://youtu.be/xvT0MCugb58).

The result is a faster, more enjoyable experience that meets the “techspectations” of today’s hyperconnected car buyer.

This approach to transactions is appearing in online apps, in-store sales kiosks, and F&I engagement tools. For instance, there are new F&I Menu programs that use multimedia interaction platforms to help assess buyers’ appetites for vehicle protection and personalization products and which then guide them toward a purchase decision. The modern customer is more willing than ever to use these tools to create a custom virtual profile that understands their habits, wants and needs. Through the process, participants are encouraged to move further into the presentation or take certain actions to gain rewards or tailored information.

In its online military engagement games, the U.S. Army rewards players with battle victories while it is tracking player movement to identify engagement-response patterns that can be applied to real combat situations. In F&I, the consumers engaging with new, sophisticated technologies have the ability to structure protection products to fit their specific needs based on a variety of inputs, such as deal structure, the vehicle they are purchasing, their driving habits and their life profile. These insights inform the F&I manager of the best ways to present products and close deals.

Game technology also shortens the F&I experience. To appreciate why this is so valuable, a review of the car-buying process is helpful. By the time the shopper walks into the dealership F&I office at the end of her car-buying process, she’s already invested considerable time to negotiate the cost of the automobile, RV or powersports vehicle. Now they are looking at spending more time looking at spending money on F&I products.

And while they might benefit from those products, they may not be in the best frame of mind to receive the information, grasp the implications and embrace those benefits. The F&I manager must deliver a performance that is fast and compliant and touches the life of the customer. Old-school F&I practices work against this goal. A recent study by Autotrader and others showed that consumers want to spend only 90 total minutes in the dealership, yet they spend 60 minutes of that total in F&I!

Enter state-of-the-art touch technology that allows for new digital F&I processes developed by drawing from familiar interactive surroundings. These interfaces use the same visual and tactile language many of today’s consumers use in their daily lives. They like it and are already comfortable using it, especially as the modern customer is a “digital native” who grew up in a world where computers, the Internet and handheld devices are a natural, embedded and nearly invisible aspect of their lives. By tapping into these new digital norms that already resonate with customers, touch technology sets them at ease and engages them more fully.

Interactive Menus

As an illustration, interactive menu systems that use touch tools not only allow the customer to build their product packages in a smooth workflow fashion but interactively guide them as they bring to the surface the value of the products. A well-designed interface has a “curator” function that takes all possible choices and presents the most efficient yet comprehensive way to educate, inform and engage buyers. Perhaps most important, like any game, they give the user the comfort and control of deciding their destiny.

The days of the paper menu are quickly going the way of the Dewey Decimal System.

Every successive generation of driver walks into a store with new “techspectations” like this. Behind gamification’s engagement benefits are also practical ones that remove redundancies and convert manual processes into automated and elegant ones that blend art with function.

We see this evolution in F&I platforms that leverage tablets, digital, video, flat-screen visuals and interactive consumer surveys. This kind of experience engages consumers’ eyes, ears, hands, minds, and emotions in a holistic and multifaceted shopping, decisioning and buying environment.

Here’s how you can position a store to meet customer techspectations:

  • Deliver a congruent digital experience, from online to in-store,
  • Embrace F&I best practices by adopting new, interactive menu technologies, econtracting and erating to save everyone time,
  • Use digital tools such as tablets and multimedia presentation technologies to deliver an interactive, self-directed F&I experience,
  • Engage consumers online through website finance and aftermarket product calculators, configurators and other tools, and
  • Improve workflow and compliance by eliminating paperwork with digital processes.

When choosing a software provider, look beyond just a menu. Determine if they are simply a provider of a widget, or are committed to the role of a leading technology partner who invests on your behalf in the future of F&I to meet customer techspectations head on!

This article was written by:

- has written 3 posts on P&A Magazine.

James (Jim) A. Maxim Jr., serves as President and CEO of MaximTrak Technologies, and oversees the strategic direction of the company’s domestic and international operations.  As a hands on operator, Jim is actively involved with client relations as well as technology innovation, product design & development, keeping MaximTrak relevant in today’s fast paced environment.  As the recipient of CIO Review Magazine’s “Top 20 Most Promising Automotive Tech Solutions Providers 2015” Award, Jim’s mission is to stay on the cutting edge, providing agents and dealers with interactive, next-gen tools that enhance the consumer experience in the dealership.  Prior to launching MaximTrak, Jim Maxim served in leadership positions at General Electric and Lucent Technologies in Mergers & Acquisitions and Corporate Finance.  Jim currently resides outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with his wife, Alison and two children James and Dylan.

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The views expressed by the authors and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of P&A Magazine or any employee thereof.

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