The COVID-19 crisis has not only been challenging for businesses, but has also impacted their customers, and with an increase in the number of people facing financial challenges, our customer-facing teams have had to adapt quickly to meet their changing needs.
We sat down with our head of customer service, Simon Jones and engagement manager, Alison Rooney, to find out how, by supporting our people, we have enabled them to continue providing outstanding customer service throughout the pandemic.
From the outset, it was evident that our customers were concerned about the financial impact of the crisis and their ability to meet payments.
Simon explains: “Our call volume shot up by 500% overnight, and within the first four weeks of the UK going into lockdown, 45,000 customers contacted us requesting some sort of payment break. We therefore very quickly realised that we needed to adapt our ways of working to keep up with the growing demand.”
Simon and the team also noticed a shift in the types of customers who were contacting them, and many of those getting in touch had never experienced any kind of financial challenges before.
Simon says: “During this period of great uncertainty, our customers needed guidance and clarity, and while other businesses temporarily closed their phone lines and only dealt with the most urgent enquiries, it was very important to us that we were there for all of our customers when they needed us most.
“In order to do this, we updated our Interactive Voice Response systems, creating a clear pathway for customers to follow. In addition, all of our agents within the collections team received specific COVID call handling training to help them adapt to their customers’ changing needs and continue to provide the best possible service.”
During this challenging period, our agents were also having to adapt to the new normal and adjust to working from home. As a result, it was vital that we put a big focus on how our teams communicated internally, as well as with their customers.
Alison says: “Platforms like Microsoft Teams became a lifeline in terms of keeping communication flowing and helping our colleagues to stay updated with ongoing changes within the business. Regular video calls also played a big part in maintaining connections between colleagues and keeping our team members engaged and motivated.
“Due to the increased pressure on our customer service team during this period, it was also vital that we looked after our colleagues’ mental wellbeing so they could better support customers with their problems, and our Mental Health First Aiders were on hand to offer additional support.”
In true BNP Paribas Personal Finance spirit, colleagues from across the business also rallied around our customer service team during this busy period and (collaborating with the collections, finance, and marketing teams) designed an automated affordability checker to ease some of the pressure on our customer-facing colleagues and to make life easier for customers.
Simon explains: “The challenges of the coronavirus crisis and the shift to remote working could’ve easily had a negative impact on our customer facing colleagues but, by breaking down barriers and building trust, we have unified teams across the business.
“Our commitment to supporting our colleagues, communities, partners, and customers has only been strengthened by this unprecedented crisis, and by empowering our people, we have been able to maintain our high standards of customer service and futureproof our business.”