Get To Know Liberis: Treating Customers Fairly
Nine months ago, I joined Liberis as Product Manager, and am now Head of Customer Value too! I was enticed by the prospect of looking after a really great product – the Business Cash Advance – and the opportunity to work in a smaller business where I could really make a difference.
I knew I’d made the right move, and I was genuinely excited about it. I was at a meet up with the mum’s group I hang out with and, entwined with conversations about potty training and why toddlers feel the need to wake up at 3am singing the Hokey Cokey, I found myself telling them about my new job and what an amazing concept the Business Cash Adavance or BCA is.
I explained to them just how it works: We advance funding to small businesses, and the repayment mechanism is so neat – when they receive payments from their customers, a small percentage comes direct to Liberis. So, they only repay when their customers pay them, and because it comes from their daily transactions there’s no need to worry about a monthly loan repayment either. Without it, a lot of small businesses who would otherwise be declined by their banks would not have the help they need.
One of the mums asked what it was that I would actually be doing.
The first thing I wanted to look at was the value we generate for our customers and how we viewed them. I’m a firm believer that customers are critical to the success of a company; and whilst Liberis also appeared to hold the same belief, there wasn’t initially a great deal of evidence of this in the culture.
Item 1 on the To-Do list then: to think about how we could embed Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) into our culture and behaviours. Working with our Sales and Ops teams we looked at the 6 TCF outcomes that consumer finance firms live by:
- Culture - regarding the fair treatment of customers as central in corporate culture.
- Product Design - designing products and services to meet the needs of identified consumer groups and targeting them accordingly.
- Communication - providing consumers with clear information and keeping them appropriately informed before, during and after the point of sale.
- Advice - where consumers receive advice, ensuring the advice is suitable and takes account of their circumstances.
- Delivery - providing consumers with products and services of acceptable standard, that perform as firms have led them to expect.
- Artificial Barriers - making sure that customers do not face unreasonable barriers imposed by firms to change product, switch provider, submit a claim or make a complaint.
We then created a programme of activities to embed this mindset in our culture – here are some of the changes we’ve implemented so far:
- A company-wide TCF launch focusing on what TCF is and why it’s important. The teams had fun playing some games to understand the principles and think about what it means to us in our day to day roles.
- Introducing a 14 day Cooling Off period as a customer peace of mind guarantee.
- Changing our incentives for our Sales team to include a TCF assessment on our calls.
- Implementing a regular company-wide call listening programme to help everyone in the business understand the real issues our customers face.
- Including specific questions regarding TCF impacts into the New Ideas assessment process.
We’ve still got some way to go, but it’s been a brilliant journey so far. We’ve made great strides and it feels like actively thinking about how we treat our customers has made them feel more real and brought us a closer understanding of them.
One of the mums runs her own business, and she was reflecting on how she could use some of this in her day-to-day life. I’d encourage anyone running a business to have a laser-sharp focus on their customers and what’s important to them, and think about whether the 6 TCF outcomes could help you build a stronger bond with your customers – the lifeblood of your business.
Back in my other role, as Mum of 5 and 3 year old boys, I’ve been trying to implement another form of TCF: Treating the Children Fairly. As expected, what I promise is what they get. And now I try to ensure things are of acceptable standard – for instance when Neddy gets promised “just one more story then bedtime” he gets a proper story without cutting corners and skipping parts out.
Unfortunately, however, it’s had no impact on the 3am performances of the Hokey Cokey – although I know I’ll really miss it when he outgrows this super-cute phase!