Fostering speed and efficiency are the way to a small business customer's wallet, if not heart. AT&T Capital Leasing is applying this strategy with an enhanced Web site, allowing customers to dramatically speed up the application and approval time for lease financing and credit approval. "Service speed, taking costs out of their business, being able to have another avenue of communication in order to do business with us (are) absolutely some things that our customers have been talking to us about for a long time," says Kerry Smith, vp of marketing for the computer segment of AT&T Capital Leasing. The company has more than 100,000 lessees, of which more than 50 percent are businesses with revenues less than $5 million or fewer than 20 employees.
Small business vendors can now cut days out of the processing time to apply for a lease line of credit or for credit on behalf of customers by filling out the applications on line. When AT&T Capital receives the forms, they are run through a credit scoring program and the vendors receive a response within several hours, Smith says. Soon, the lease documents will be transmitted electronically, not just by fax or by mail. Vendors can digitally acknowledge the receipt of each page of the agreement. Small business owners can also use the AT&T web site (www.leasingservices.com) to find how much credit remains in their account or apply to be an AT&T Capital Leasing provider.
While many financial services Web sites have loan or financing applications available on-line, customers must print the forms out and mail or fax them back. Cliff Condon, a senior analyst with Forrester Research in Cambridge, MA, says this practice "takes the convenience out of the Internet and turns hot sales prospects cold, because you're asking them to do too much."
AT&T Capital Leasing takes this process a critical step further. "It makes the Internet a complete distribution channel," Condon says. "They're more likely to close the sale."