It was a great week at my first NEFA (National Equipment Finance Association) Annual Summit. As a product manager, I love being engrossed in the market and hearing from organizations who are driving toward growth. Its these market insights that we use to help guide our product roadmap and set our overall product direction. Here are my key take-aways from the show:
#1 The definition of “customer experience” is evolving.
There is no longer a clear delineation between what represents an exceptional B2C vs. B2B customer experience. Technology and data have blurred these lines, making experience about any user being able to effectively perform their function / action with little to no friction. To that end, providing the best customer experience is about bringing data and systems together in meaningful, integrated ways and offering channels of delivery that meet your customers, dealers or employees where they work (especially through embracing digital channels). McKinsey reinforced this in a recent study where they noted, “digitizing the customer experience is a lever often left unused by B2B companies.”
#2 Disruptive technology will impact our industry – let’s make the impact positive.
Whether it’s Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, Robotics, or Cloud Technology, we should all be asking, how can I leverage disruptive technology to add value to the customer experience or increase efficiency? This was the guiding principle behind our IDScloud. Industry thought leader Deborah Rueben provided some solid guidance on taking first steps: look at a business challenge that could be addressed by a small, new technology application. Think of an AI application like automated calendaring for client appointments or a chatbot for customer help. Then experiment (often) to gain essential learnings you can apply more broadly.
#3 For every evolution, there is a regulatory counterbalance.
As we use data and information to make better decisions and provide frictionless experiences, how is that data reasonably used and protected? It’s important to stay abreast of how the consumer regulatory landscape has the potential to impact equipment finance. This includes how consumer-lead rules around financial disclosure, data privacy and protection (e.g. GDRP and CA), and vicarious liability have the potential to migrate to asset finance. Document where your data is stored and sent and talk with your service providers and partners about the same. Knowing where your data is will ease the burden of compliance.
#4 We’re better together!
NEFA is an association devoted to understanding the changes and disruptive forces impacting asset finance by facilitating meaningful conversations across the ecosystem of lessors, funders, service providers, regulators and other industry experts. Whether through talking to the over fifty women at the Women in Leasing Networking Luncheon, transparently discussing key topics and their impacts during sessions, or meeting new people in the conference hall – I was excited by the energy and creativity of this group of leasing and finance professionals and how these interactions will continue to shape the way we deliver asset finance solutions.
It was a great week in which I learned a lot. I look forward to meeting up again in October for the NEFA Funding Symposium.
Lisa Nowak, Senior Product Manager, IDS