Listen to customers to drive innovation

Over time, processes can become complex and confusing for customers, leading to poor satisfaction. Furthermore, ‘normal’ customer service has been thrown upside down by the pandemic, with responsiveness and flexibility more vital than ever.  

Customer at the heart  

Understanding how customers think and feel is key to providing them with the best possible service. As financial services providers, we need to be open and proactive about embracing change with our customers, taking them with us on our improvement journey and constantly evolving in response to their needs.  

It is also key to listen to feedback from our colleagues and brokers who are interacting with our customers daily as these are the people who know what isn’t working for them and in turn know what impacts customers. 

At The Cumberland we have recently made significant investments to accelerate our growth plans, yet any innovation and changes we make to our service is in response to the behavioural and social evolution of our customer base; it is based on what is going well, and more importantly, what can be improved.   

People power  

We found that customers looking to buy a new home and finance were frustrated with the amount of .rmation required as part of the lending process, with manual processes causing long delays. As one of our most important revenue processes, we committed to improving this end-to-end journey as quickly as possible. 

We believe that the journey to giving customers the best experience starts with investing in people, giving them the skills to identify problem areas and empowering them to make changes to drive improvement. 

We were also mindful that teams often experience change being ‘done to’ and not ‘with’ them, which can lead to resistance to change, so we involved them from the start. 

We created a cross functional team, made up of operations and retail colleagues who worked collaboratively to review each part of the lending process. 41 staff undertook Lean Six Sigma qualifications, which focus on unpicking challenges that build up in processes over time, allowing them to be more effective for the customer and employees.  

The findings were brought together on a frequent basis to help to understand the issues up and down stream. The resulting improvements took the cycle time from initial mortgage interview to sending out an offer from 76 to 12 days, reducing wastage and streamlining our customers’ experience significantly.  

The future is digital  

Digital is increasingly important for our customers and for any business strategy. With innovation moving at a faster rate than ever before, the opportunities to use technology to drive improvements for our customers is exciting. It is crucial, however, to ensure that these are rolled out at a pace that works for customers and in line with their needs and expectations. 

From automated valuation to credit services and mortgage offers, t. is a wealth of opportunity for digital innovation to improve customer experience across financial services.

Stephen Donne is head of operations at The Cumberland