“Sorry about this. Can I get you a drink while you wait?”

Car dealers dread having to say these words. They know slow or unreliable systems hurt sales.

Experian knows speed and reliability matter. That’s why we have worked hard to offer vehicle checks via AutoCheck that gave:

  • 99.9% service availability over the past year
  • a 422-millisecond average response time over the past year using our integrated API solutions

Rapid, reliable checks: the challenge

As customer demand for convenience soars, dealers and lenders need vehicle checks faster and more reliably than ever.

Around 70% of car sales involve part exchange, which means checking out a vehicle’s provenance.

Dealers and lenders providing finance packages need this information instantly because the customer is waiting. Sales websites and auctions also need to verify a car before it can be listed.

Sellers need to know if the vehicle has been:

  • Stolen or had number plates changed
  • Written off
  • MOT’d and taxed
  • Independently mileage-checked

They also need to know:

  • The status of any finance package linked to it
  • Whether its details check out with the DVLA
  • Its value with its current condition and mileage in a very fast-moving market

Vehicle information needs to be drawn from a wide range of different sources, then processed to make it digestible – instantly.

Why speed and reliability matter

For vehicle sales, customers now want to pick and drive – or, in the case of online sales, click and drive. Slow or unreliable vehicle checking poses clear risks to sellers and lenders:

  • Any downtime risks lost sales
  • Slow processing leads to customer frustration and a poor experience
  • That in turn means reputational damage – a lower Net Promoter Score or poor scores and reviews in key satisfaction surveys
  • It also – especially when processing large batches of vehicles – costs staff time

Employee experience of systems is also essential. As PwC concluded in a recent report on the impact of technology on customer experience, “Excellent customer experience starts with superior employee experience”.

Employees who are frustrated by slow or unreliable systems cannot offer customers that excellent experience. Frustrated sales staff are ineffective sales staff.

The Amazon effect on customer expectations

These potential risks grow daily as the Amazon effect on consumers grows ever stronger. Three words sum up customer expectations in the Amazon age: Convenience. Efficiency. Speed.

Automation, mobile devices, machine learning, and other convenience drivers let customers get what they want, when they want it.

A recent PwC survey lays out today’s customer demands:

  • One in three consumers (32%) say they will walk away from a brand they love after just one bad experience
  • 43% of all consumers would pay more for greater convenience
  • The most important ingredients in customer service are efficiency and convenience – and customers said they would pay more for them.

Another survey suggests that 70% of consumers say speed influences their decision to buy.

Dealers and finance providers that meet these expectations will thrive.

Other factors are also driving the need for speed:

The second-hand market is booming. As the pandemic squeezes the supply of new vehicles, second-hand demand is soaring, and average second-hand vehicle prices in the UK rocketed by 30% over the last year (2020-2021).  Whether sold through independent dealers, chains, PLCs or online, second-hand vehicles need to be checked quickly to meet demand.

Online buying is more and more popular. Online car sales have already doubled since 2017. And they are expected to double again by 2025. These sales are especially vulnerable to slow and bumpy user experiences. If customers have to wait for checks, they go elsewhere or abandon the transactions.

Batch processing: Dealers or auctions listing second-hand cars online are dealing with large amounts of fast-moving stock. The more checks that are run, the greater the cumulative effect of slow processing times. For large batches, the amount of staff time used up in this administration can get frustratingly large.

Experian can help

Experian’s AutoCheck is a fast and reliable checking tool.  It offers excellent response speeds, averaging in the milliseconds, and 0.01% downtime. It can be used either standalone or integrated via APIs into Dealership Management Systems.