I am fully aware that I can be a grumpy old git at the best of times.
I thought I would just throw that out there to pre-empt what I know would be, and probably still will be, the sentiment behind the messages I am likely to receive on the back of this piece. Or at least words to that affect.
But let me ask you a question.
How many times over the past two years have you heard this particular message “We are currently experiencing higher than normal call volumes; we will be with you as soon as possible or….”?
Or the phone has just kept ringing.
Or the many empty promises that you will get a call back and don’t.
I could go on and on, and I probably will.
Now I am not a monster (leave it). I realise that all businesses have been through huge upheavals due to the pandemic. We’ve all had to adapt our working practices at the drop of a hat, think on our feet and do the best we could to support our people and our clients through some of the most challenging times we are – hopefully – ever likely to experience. Make no mistake that it was tough and I am certainly not slating anyone who struggled over this initial period and subsequent lockdowns. However, we are now two years down the line and it’s time for firms to stop falling back on the same old excuses and raise their service game.
In 2022, it is unacceptable for any SME not to answer the phone and be able to respond to a query within a ‘reasonable’ timeframe. Or, for larger organisations, there is no excuse not to have a system in place which can handle customer service procedures efficiently and effectively. By this I mean acknowledging the query, responding to the query, updating customers if there is no immediate solution, providing an actual solution and then informing the customer of the outcome.
This is not rocket science but what it does involve is taking ownership and sadly this is what all too few people and firms are actually doing.
So, what is the solution?
That depends on the firm in question. Here at F4B, we got back to being an office-based business as quickly as we could – whilst staying within government guidelines and following feedback from staff members. This was because it works best for us and our clients. Remote, flexible working is fine for the right people in the right teams in the right company structure but if it comes at the cost of the customer/client/borrower then this needs a rethink.
Every day I speak to introducers and intermediary partners who consistently grumble about how service standards are not good enough across the industry. As a packager we understand their frustrations. We are constantly pushing our lending partners to do better and to be more transparent about any service issues they may have but it’s clear that what little patience brokers have left is fast running out.
Excuses are running thin when it comes to implementing the highest service standards. Brokers deserve better and those offering better will continue to generate trust, goodwill and reap the rewards.
Maybe I should have kept quiet after all….
Myles Williams, CEO, First 4 Bridging