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Interest Rate Worries Are Making the Phones Ring

The Bank of England has warned that households are facing the worst fall in living standards since records began more than 30 years ago, thanks to interest rate rises.  With media headlines highlighting the rising cost of food and fuel and the ‘eat or heat’ plight faced by many, it’s not surprising that many homeowners will be facing very real financial uncertainty.

Whether they’re worried about the impact this has on their existing mortgage or their ability to get their first or a new one – these anxieties are already translating into a much greater volume of calls to mortgage brokers and lenders.

Here, Louise Wilson, head of finance sector at leading outsourced communications provider Moneypenny, which provides telephone answering and live chat services to hundreds of financial services businesses across the UK, shares six useful strategies to help brokers and lenders provide the very best care for worried customers.

1. Dedicated support

The pandemic made financial businesses realise the importance of improved accessibility and the need to offer extra support during times of uncertainty. Put dedicated telephone support in place to help customers facing financial difficulties  – this could be a specific helpline number or the addition of an additional IVR option to ensure that key calls are directed to the right people quickly.

2. Do an empathy check

The people answering your calls need to have empathy.  In times of worry, people want to feel heard, understood and supported. This will likely mean longer call times as people have more to explain and potentially more complex needs. Give your team the bandwidth and skills to support customers fully, rather than rushing them off the phone.

3. Answer calls quickly

When people are anxious, their patience is often compromised. Make sure that calls are answered quickly and put extra resources in place if required, be that in-house or outsourced.  Also, remember that customers expect support outside of traditional office hours – so call handling teams should have the capacity in the evenings and early mornings too.

4. Consider other tools to help ease the pressure

Not all issues require a phone call and the use of other channels such as live chat can help to triage enquiries quickly and keep volumes away from the phones. Knowledgeable live chat operators will also know how and where to signpost people for help as well as be able to book call-backs for complex matters. 37% of Moneypenny’s chats occur outside traditional hours – which helps to show the increasingly 24/7 demands of customer behaviour. Customers appreciate the opportunity to ask quick questions, in real-time, whilst browsing online. Others simply prefer not to talk on the phone and favour the messenger-style experience live chat offers. Live chat offers choice.

5. Create helpful content

Many of your customers’ calls will be around similar themes – perhaps with themes such as ‘I’m worried I won’t be able to make my mortgage payment’, ‘how will affordability criteria change because of the interest rate rise?’ and ‘how can I move to a fixed-rate mortgage quickly?’. Choose the most commonly asked questions and create easy-to-follow website content to provide the answers. This will help customers to self-serve and provide live chat teams with helpful content to signpost people too.

6. Get ahead of the curve

Times of customer worry present an opportunity to get ahead. Consider investing in outbound activity with courtesy calls to customers that you think might require extra help or reassurance.  It may be timely to revisit customers who had struggles during the pandemic, or useful to warm-up remortgage data sooner than usual. If in-house teams aren’t able to take on the extra work, use outsourced support to provide the initial contact and book follow-up calls.

Louise Wilson added: “Economic uncertainty makes the phone ring. We saw it during the pandemic and with the interest rate rises, we expect the phones to keep on ringing. Brokers and lenders need to ensure their customer care is on point – done well and it’s a real chance to create meaningful customer relationships, solve potential issues quickly and build loyalty. Done badly and customers will be left confused, vulnerable and potentially defaulting on payments, pausing deals or looking elsewhere for support.

“For brokers and lenders struggling to resource these peaks of demand, outsourced telephone answering and live chat support can provide a very valuable and timely addition to customer service operations. ”

ENDS

About the Author: Louise Wilson is Head of the Finance Sector at Moneypenny, which handles 15 million calls and live chats for financial services businesses every year. 

Established in 2000, Moneypenny is the world’s market leader for telephone answering, live chat, outsourced switchboard and customer contact solutions. In total, more than 13,000 businesses across the UK benefit from Moneypenny’s mix of extraordinary people and ground-breaking technology.

For more information about Moneypenny’s work in the financial sector visit:

www.moneypenny.com/uk/accountancy-answering-services/

Louise Wilson

Louise Wilson

Moneypenny
Head of the Finance Sector at Moneypenny. Moneypenny has more than 1,000 staff and handles more than 20 million customer communications a year, for 21,000 companies, ranging from multi-nationals to start-ups. It has grown rapidly in the last four years, from £19 million revenue p/a to a projected £50 million this year. It is known for its award winning culture, its excellent customer service and low staff turnover.