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Getting a handle on complaints

Brokers / 12th February 2021

We won Bronze at the 2020 UK Complaint Handling Awards, beating some tough competition. Whilst it is great recognition of all the work that resulted in this win, what really counts is the positive impact these changes have provided for the benefit of our customers, partners and ultimately, our business.

The key improvements included:

•  Transforming our complaints management process

•  Building company-wide awareness and accountability for complaints

•  Providing a full root cause analysis and corrective activity approach

•  Delivering sector leading complaints management performance

The architect of these changes is Paul Barclay, Head of Partner Operations & Customer Service, who with the help of his dynamic team managed by Nadine Ross, explain how they transformed the complaints handling department.

Back to basics

We have a comprehensive training programme that every employee at Premium Credit has to complete. The training ensures all employees have a good understanding of the importance of recording every instance of dissatisfaction raised by our customers, as well as providing a fair outcome. With this information, our complaints team are then able to carry out root cause analysis, which helps us to understand the needs of our customers better and implement improvements.

The key aim is to restore our customers back to the same position before any error occurred, and to learn from the issue, putting corrective actions into place. In addition, we provide comprehensive training on how to assess vulnerability, considering the impact of the situation and what we can do to help by remembering the `human impact’ of a complaint and how stressful it can be for our customers.

To help us keep abreast of the latest regulatory guidelines on fair outcomes, we also regularly attend training sessions provided by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

Looking forward

We have resolved some of the key issues that left customers feeling unhappy and made changes to improve the overall customer experience. The Treating Customer’s Fairly (TCF) framework is key to our approach and we always work to ensure the right outcome has been given.

Our vision is to resolve complaints at the first point of contact whenever possible. All dissatisfactions are recorded in our central database and our customer facing colleagues are all empowered to resolve dissatisfactions received themselves. With a continuous improvement programme in place we are able to implement preventative controls to reduce future dissatisfaction.

Future plans

Looking ahead there are two things we are working towards. Making our complaints process as easy as possible and maintaining our track record of continuous improvement.

We know our investigations and resolution times are some of the quickest in our sector. We also have one of the lowest FOS referral rates and an even lower rate of FOS upholding in our customer’s favour. However, we want to do more to make the complaints process really simple and streamlined. One way we are looking to simplify the process is by introducing SMS messaging, which will also reduce our environmental impact of non-regulatory paper letters and speed up our communications with our customers.

The data we get from customer dissatisfactions is what helps us to continuously improve our products and service. We will build on our analysis and corrective actions to ensure we implement preventative controls into our customer journeys, with regular deep dive reviews involving our Executive Committee to ensure our actions are delivered successfully.

Though our complaints numbers are low, successful complaint processing and resolution is essential for customers and partners. Listening to our customers helps us to improve their experience, protect our and our partner's brands, and drive business performance.
Paul Barclay, Head of Partner Operations & Customer Service, Premium Credit
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