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Why signing a lease contract should be as easy as buying a book online

Dr. Michael Zellner
August 18, 2020

“78% of automotive customers say that they are now more likely to buy a car online than before the pandemic – enhancing Captives’ digital maturity becomes more important than ever.”

It’s safe to say that 2020 will be one of the most extraordinary years of the digital age. Besides numerous economic and social implications, the outbreak of COVID-19 has accelerated the need for digital products and services. Seventy-eight percent of automotive customers say that they are now more likely to buy a  car online than before the pandemic.1 Thus, digital end-to-end (E2E) sales processes are indispensable for the successful continuation of the business. This is underlined by the fact that one third of all customers now even demand this.1 It is therefore not much of a surprise that companies such as Amazon, Apple, or Tesla have seen a significant increase in their stock value within the past six months. Delivering or facilitating digital E2E processes has enabled them to engage with their customers remotely and completely without the need of physical interaction, making these companies rather crisis-proof. At the same time, automobile sales have plummeted worldwide. Car dealerships were closed for weeks, factories stood still, and customers had very few opportunities to buy, lease, or finance a car from home. Although some Captives have already taken initiatives for the online sale of vehicles, they are often not yet ready for the market or are in the pilot phase. Thus, advanced digital maturity should be a focal point when considering the future of the daily business.

“It was essential for us to take the customer’s perspective – putting the customer in the center of attention.”

Capgemini Invent has, for the fourth year in a row, been executing the Digital Maturity Assessment (DMA). The DMA evaluates and ranks the digital maturity of selected automotive Captives and banks with an automotive finance focus based on a detailed criteria catalogue. The criteria are then clustered into our three Digital Maturity Dimensions “Digital Point of Sales,” “Application Process,” and “Customer Service.” It was essential for us to take the customer’s perspective and put the customer in the center of attention.

This year’s focus markets are Germany, the UK, France, Belgium, Sweden, the US, and China. Within these markets, we assessed the overall market maturity of the selected 19 players, examined current market trends in the Captive realm, and evaluated their digital performance. Surprisingly, the average digital maturity across all 19 players was only at 51% in the “Digital Points of Sale” dimension. One reason for this is that only 16% of Captives and banks offer an online credit decision based on data provided by customers.

“The digitalization of the e2e sales process is one of the biggest hurdles for Captives and banks alike.”


In a recent interview, the CEO of a Captive noted that they “struggle with the digitalization of the E2E sales process.” He is surely not alone. However, this is a key part of the “Digital Point of Sales” dimension and the centerpiece of digital sales. In the age of Amazon, Apple, Alibaba, and co., customers are used to fully digital processes from search, to selection over to payment and order status. In consequence, they expect similar possibilities when purchasing their cars. It should be emphasized that this does not only apply to the digitally-savvy Generation X. The digital divide between the age groups is virtually non-existent as, for example, a 2020 study in the insurance industry2 shows by 49% of Millennials and 53% of Gen X perform online transaction at a similar level.

Thus, Captives have to strive to meet customers’ expectations and deliver a digital and convenient sales process, where financial service (FS) products such as leasing or financing are seamlessly integrated in the customer journey. Thus, many Captives encounter severe challenges, such as separated organizational structures, outdated legacy systems, or cultural struggles in becoming digital on their way to develop and integrate a united, digital E2E-process. In contrast, the major obstacle for OEM-independent banks is to circumvent the lack of direct connection to the manufacturer’s online presence and products.

However, one commonality both Captives and banks share equally is the effort required to digitize customer journeys from start to finish. In addition, “there is the organizational restructuring and the necessary change (and management thereof) that goes along with it,” as the head of HR at a financial organization told us.


But as with all challenges there are opportunities and solutions at hand and initiatives that can be taken to create long-term solutions as well as to implement quick wins.

Let’s take the leasing or finance application. As a prerequisite for a fully digital application, customers must identify and legitimize themselves online. Afterwards a credit check by the banking institution is mandatory. For that to work, Captives need to tackle their application process. Due to the nature of this process and the underlying steps, it is among the most time intensive and complex ones. However, an equally onerous process in the banking sector has been digitalized for years – opening a bank account. Thus, setting the example of how to streamline such a complex process. But when interviewing leasing experts, many told us, “the biggest obstacle within the application process is the online identification and legitimization of the customer.” Yet, for each challenge there is a solution. By now, IT companies offer specific products that take over the entire legitimization process. The good thing is that the entire solution can be integrated in the existing IT landscape via APIs. Even better – you kill two birds with one stone, as it is precisely these products that also enable the use of digital signatures to seal contracts online.

One thing we often hear as an argument against a fully digital E2E process is the lack of human interaction and decreased customer satisfaction. And yes, it is important to keep in mind that increasingly digitalized customer journeys also require a corresponding omni-channel customer service. However, the American Fintech “Quicken Loans” has proven that both digital E2Es and customer satisfaction can harmonize very well together. “Quicken Loans” is not only the highest volume mortgage lender in the US but rank highest in customer satisfaction as well.

Ultimately, it is apparent that across industries the trend goes towards a fully digital customer experience with digital E2E processes being at the heart of the movement. With other industries leading the way, customers learn to expect a fully digital engagement.  In times like the corona crisis such trends are fast-tracked. To satisfy customers’ expectations and thus be competitive in the market, Captives and banks need to accelerate their efforts to become digitally mature.

This article is co-authored by Karl Pollinger, Evelyn Gabrysch & Benjamin Wiederkehr.


  1. (Capgemini automotive sales recovery customer survey (2020))
  2. (Capgemini Financial Services Analysis, 2020; Capgemini Voice of the Customer Survey 2018, 2019, 2020.)