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Great customer service critical for growth

Brokers / 5th July

We've heard the phrase that 'the customer is king', but in truth few businesses really try to treat their customers like royalty.

It's a mantra that should be universally adopted but one that's so easy to let slip. At the heart of every successful company is a well-treated, loyal and trusting customer base - so how is Premium Credit approaching customer service? Paul Barclay, Head of Producer Operations and Customer Service explains.

We support over 2 million customers each year to pay for an annual expense through instalments. As the leading premium finance company in the UK and Ireland it's critical that we work closely with the regulator to support the delivery of their policies successfully across the industry.

The following extract from FCA Business Plan 2019/20 was a timely reminder to all across the sector: "Our long-term aim is to transform culture in financial services firms, so that firms cause less harm to consumers, businesses and the real economy. In the long term, we can measure this through upheld complaints levels, consumer redress levels and feedback from consumers."

To summarise Premium Credit's approach to good customer service: we deliver great quality outcomes for our customers, the provision of relevant products, a smooth onboarding process, and responsiveness when queries arise. It's relatively easy for companies to measure response times, but our key differentiator is the provision of great service at all points of the customer journey, and where dissatisfaction is experienced, we aim to resolve it quickly and remedy the root cause.

Our approach to dissatisfaction

We resolve 85% of our customer queries at the first point of contact. We don't always get it right, but we're always listening to our customers to resolve concerns. There are 3 key layers to our approach:

1. Customer feedback: We track the volume and causes of the problem. We'd rather know if there is an issue so that we can do something to improve the situation. We believe any dissatisfaction is something to investigate, whether it fits with the FCA definition of a complaint or not. Our 2018 average monthly complaint rate was only 0.20/1000 customers.

2. Internally upheld 'dissatisfaction: As a result of our approach to all feedback, we know we have a very small number of service or process failures. As a result, our internally upheld complaint rate is far lower than the sector average - Premium Credit at 27%, compared to the FCA sector average of 60%*.

3. FOS upheld dissatisfactions: Customer have the right to call upon the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) if they remain dissatisfied, and we track the number of complaints referred to, and upheld by, FOS. Our rates are half that of the sector (17% and 34% respectively), and this gives us confidence that our internal approach and processes are delivering great customer outcomes*.

Quality improvement programme

Despite good scores, we are not complacent. We recognise that there are further positive steps to be made and 'getting better at what we do' is always front of mind. We are continually looking to address any form of dissatisfaction through initiatives that can drive down the root causes. Our 'Quality Improvement Programme', for example, drives quality through ownership and corrective activities. This initiative includes the training of every customer and producer facing person in Premium Credit to recognise, record and resolve dissatisfactions.

Within the Quality Improvement Programme we have embedded a strong 'root cause' and 'corrective action' culture. All complaints are analysed to understand where they originate from; investigations are held with the relevant business areas; and corrective actions are driving a progressively lower rate of customer dissatisfaction and further enhancing our overall quality approach.

In conclusion, our front-line operations are so much more than answering the phone quickly or monitoring social media posts. they are fully focused on channelling vital feedback from our Customers and Producers into our business to ensure continuous improvement in our people, processes and systems. Premium Credit is determined to continually improve in all these areas, to proactively support our Producer partners'drive for growth through service.

Feedback is welcomed. If you would like to discuss any element of customer service, please contact Premium Credit's customer service team:

*as of April 2019