A lighter-touch approach to Coronavirus loans
Government-backed loans issued as part of the Recovery Loan Scheme or its predecessors, CBILS and BBLS, will require a different approach to customer servicing. This has been recognized by the state-owned British Business Bank and the industry lobby group, UK Finance, which kicked off talks with commercial lenders back in July in an effort to set industry-wide debt collection standards. The Guardian reports one banking executive saying that the soon-expected “code of conduct” for collections is “likely to result in a “lighter-touch approach” than some banks might be used to with run-of-the-mill commercial loans”.
Yet, collections is just a part of the servicing strategy that lenders need to consider when it comes to customer account management and optimizing these journeys end-to-end.
A game-changer for financial lenders
Standard account servicing approaches may have worked so far, but in the face of the coronavirus business interruption loans there is a much greater need for:
- An empathetic, human-centric approach
- The ability to use data for risk mitigation and more personalized contact
- Scalable servicing capacity and a flexible approach to handling customer interactions
All this in addition to ensuring that regulatory compliance standards are met. Delivering on these capabilities calls for an approach rooted in empathy, insights and agility, which are all key to a successful account servicing strategy.
Business borrowers expect the same level of human-centric interaction as any B2C finance customer. This is especially true for BBLS granted to small businesses, which are more akin to personal loans. Despite only going up to £50,000, these loans make up 64% of the total lending. And with 1,336,320 loans given out by mid-October 2020 across 28 lenders, that is a lot of customer accounts to handle.
When it comes to servicing Recovery Loan Scheme, CBILS and BBLS accounts a cookie-cutter approach won’t do. These customers will need a personalized approach rooted in empathy with lenders being able to:
- Handle sensitive conversations
For many small businesses who lost their ability to trade, financial conversations are likely to strike a sore nerve. Lenders need to have the skills to tackle such sensitive conversations, for example, by providing their phone staff with training around empathetic listening and how to converse with vulnerable customers.
- Take the emotional burden out of financial conversations
Using voice calls to contact a customer on this subject can be intrusive and drive resentment towards the lender. Digital communications offer the potential for a less intrusive contact approach and more empathetic interactions. By using digital channels, lenders can provide customers with all the information they need at their fingertips, saving the human interaction for when it is really needed.
Data is money and in the case of financial lenders, it is even more so. Effective use of customer data can help lenders mitigate risks while improving customer communications.
BBLS fraud losses are estimated to be significantly above 5% according to the National Audit Office. Thompson Reuters reports British Business Bank predictions of 35% to 60% borrowers potentially defaulting on their loans. Given these risks, it is paramount for lenders to identify, understand and appropriately respond to various customer profiles. This can be done by using existing and emerging data
- Proactively identify and handle risky accounts
Lenders can do this by running analytics on existing data to build borrower profiles with varied levels of risk. Incorporating this into a contact strategy can feed into how and when the customers are contacted. Then behavioral data arising from these communications can be used to further refine customer profiles.
- Adjusting operations and communications based on insights
Having insights can help lenders set-up operations to meet servicing demand. For example, predicting customer call and chat volumes can help with resourcing. And running analytics on customer data such as age, payment history, and credit rating can help to identify their contact preferences leading to a more strategic contact channel deployment.
Lenders need to be able to adapt to the unknown. When it comes to account servicing, there are areas for lenders to focus on:
- Agile solution
Lenders need to have the ability to be flexible in how and when they contact their customers, whether it is a voice call, an email, a text, a good old-fashioned letter or more likely, a mix of the above. Lenders also need to have the capacity to scale operations up and down depending on customer needs, in terms of technology and the required human resources.
- Flexible strategy
Lenders need to have the ability to pivot and re-pivot as business and customer priorities change. Because these are uncertain times and it is hard to predict what tomorrow holds. So, lenders need flexible operations, whether these are run in-house or through a partner. Importantly they need access to relevant experience and expertise, latest technology and insightful consultancy in order to navigate the shifting sands of customer relationship management.
Lenders’ existing capabilities, brand goals, strategies and changing customer demands will dictate the adjustments they need to make. Yet, all initiatives need to be part of a holistic approach that puts customers at the center and is rooted in empathy, insights and agility. To help lenders understand their account servicing approach and what they can do to improve, we’ve created a comprehensive checklist on Customer servicing capabilities for Recovery Loan Scheme, CBILS and BBLS lenders. Check it out to help you evaluate your account servicing strategy.
If you are interested to learn more about our end-to-end customer management solutions don’t hesitate to get in touch