Martin Fleming, director of Scottish Widows Bank explains why you can't put a price on service.
How important is service to Scottish Widows Bank?
You can’t put a price on it. The fact is that our improved service means we are doing three times the level of business we were doing last year, and we are now on track to be one of the UK’s top 10 lenders. We now have a team that’s totally focused on service; this is reflected in both our adviser and customer NPS scores which have been steadily improving for the last 18 months.
Can you explain the changes you have made to your business development team?
We’ve enhanced our business development team structure following extensive feedback from advisers. As a result there is always telephone support when our field-based business development managers (BDMs) are unavailable.
We have always had a dedicated team of field-based BDMs.
However if an adviser was in an area covered by our telephone-based BDM team they would not have access to a field-based BDM. Last October we changed that, so now everyone has access to face-to-face and telephony contact.
Advisers are also supported by a telephone-based intermediary support team that can help with everything from policy and criteria through to submitting applications. Finally the overall business development team has grown, we have increased the number of roles by 20%.
You’ve streamlined your underwriting service, can you tell us more?
Yes. In the last 12 months we have ring-fenced and improved the quality of our underwriting team.
We now have a team that is dedicated to Scottish Widows Bank.
They understand that our clients’ circumstances differ from the mainstream. This is because they tend to be more affluent, more likely to be professionals and often self-employed with multiple sources of income.
We believe our end-customer experience is key to the service we offer advisers. For example, we had the British Medical Association come in and train our underwriters.
Why did we do this?
Well doctors may have up to 31 different types of income.
Many are also part self-employed so this means they will earn different types of income, some sustainable and some variable.
A lot of lenders look at a doctor’s basic pay and discount everything else which can be very frustrating for the adviser and their client.
At Scottish Widows Bank we have deep experience of lending to customers with more complex incomes and we have built that into our underwriting approach. So we now have a specialist team that can understand the complexities of those on higher incomes and the different types of self-employment – a partner in a law firm vs an IT contractor for example.
What changes have you noticed?
We have far fewer touches of each case by the underwriting team, 40% less in fact, and advisers are telling us how happy they are with our service. Speed has improved, for example, one of our largest introducers recently put us top of their league table for average application to offer times recently.