Developing a customer journey map for an auto lender

A leading auto lender had grown primarily as the result of strong marketing to dealers of all major auto manufacturers, and the ability to offer a full spectrum of loans to customers across the credit spectrum seeking both new and used cars.

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Methods Used

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To support its strategic planning beyond dealer marketing, the lender sought to gain a detailed understanding of the direct-to-consumer auto lending market by better understanding the customer path-to-purchase. HawkPartners first synthesized existing syndicated and secondary research to serve as the foundation for a comprehensive customer journey map that was subsequently fleshed out through primary research with customers.

HawkPartners identified an evolving car-buying path-to-purchase that had been fueled by the emergence and widespread use of third-party sites such as AutoTrader. This new channel opened the opportunity for auto leaders to market more directly to shoppers.

Mobile diaries with car shoppers were used to better identify their in-the-moment needs, key decision points, and the role that financing played at each of these points.

HawkPartners created a map of the “new” auto buyer customer journey that greatly compressed what had been a prolonged research and shopping phase. The map was then overlaid with current competitor practices and opportunities for our client.

The project resulted in several changes by our client, including new tactics to establish its presence earlier in the buying process, use of social media to position itself as a customer advocate, and use of a segmented/generational approach to engaging target customers.