As the UK adjusts to the new post-lockdown environment, with its wide-ranging impact, we thought it may be helpful to guide our community through how these changes may affect both the service they receive from leasing companies, and how we are attempting to mitigate that.
Firstly, the entire Pike+Bambridge team is back from furlough and dedicated to supporting clients. We have actually recruited two new members of the team during lockdown, meaning we have more resource than ever. Our remote working systems are incredibly robust, and our IT and customer service management is able to manage client interactions better than ever before.
Sadly, this is not the case across many of the finance companies we support, and our clients use. Many finance companies rely on legacy IT systems, meaning remote working has been challenging, and there are also a large number of furloughed staff within some of the organisations, meaning the service level is fundamentally lower than normal times.
This has been compounded by the level of communications these companies are receiving from clients, due to payment holidays, mileage adjustments and so on.
Here we have broken down some of the specific issues we are seeing and what we are doing to help support clients with these problems:
One of the biggest issues the industry faces is a huge delay to typical finance approval systems for those who want car finance. As an example, one of our main leasing partners is experiencing volume of around 400 proposals a day. This number in itself is not unusual.
What is unusual is that the 70-80% of proposals that are ‘auto-approved’ by a computer have almost all been halted, meaning each proposal needs to be reviewed by a human underwriter.
This is a reasonable step. With understandable concerns about the 9 million people on furlough, and how many of them will return to work once the scheme is ended, there is a huge focus on lending responsibly, as the FCA requires all finance companies to do.
Unfortunately, with physical supply chains also very disrupted for car manufacturers, and stock levels at an all-time low in the UK, clients face the danger of leasing companies effectively ‘over-booking’ their orders (think airlines who do this as a matter of course), and clients having to wait 8 days to find the car they wanted has now been sold to someone higher up the queue.
Our advice to clients is therefore to move rather quicker than normal times in terms of submitting finance proposals, obviously with the caveat of not rushing an important decision.
During lockdown, collection of end-of-lease cars came to an abrupt stop. With the backlog growing on a daily basis, and many of the ‘gig economy’ workers responsible for collections being retired males (therefore ‘at-risk’ groups), the industry is still fighting to catch up.
As this happens, we have seen a sharp increase in mistakes by finance companies billing damage, extra usage, and other problems with their internal systems.
As always, at Pike + Bambridge, we believe in offering more than a transactional service, and have supported numerous customers with this.
Impact on P+B
All of this is certainly affecting our service levels to customers as we experience two to three times the amount of time to do the same tasks as we usually do, despite having actually increased our team size during this time, and having none of the team on furlough.
We’ll do all we can to keep you informed, remove the hassle, and communicate personally, but do get in touch with us if you feel we could support you more.