"Connecting on a human level with our customers is just as important now as it ever was"
As you may know, the voting for this year’s Financial Reporter Awards has now closed and for the first time ever, we have held a new stage of the awards. Businesses that have won a slot as a finalist at the awards, as voted by the adviser community, had the chance to tell our panel of expert judges why they believe they should win.
To explore what values an FRA winner should have, we’ve teamed up with event sponsor HSBC UK to look at how businesses have embodied these values in the past 12 months, and take a closer look at how businesses can instill winning values in their day-to-day operations to benefit brokers and consumers alike.
Our winning value: Stay connected
The word ‘connection’ means many different things to different people and businesses. It could mean an internet connection allowing a small business to work from home, or the ability to link teams across continents? It can be both. It can also be emotional or mental - the connection with your customers, your colleagues, and your work.
During the last 12 months, it has felt at times that connection was being replaced by isolation or difficulty communicating; nothing exemplifies this problem more neatly than the loneliness many people felt during lockdowns in the UK, cut off from their friends, family and co-workers and feeling disconnected from their normal life.
But amid this difficult year, staying connected became a true winning value for a business - no longer optional, but utterly crucial to the health and happiness of its staff and its continued smooth operation under trying circumstances.
Which businesses have demonstrated this value during the last year, and especially during the Covid-19 pandemic?
Who’s been a winner in the last 12 months?
It goes without saying that Zoom, the US-based video calling company, has been a key part of many of our pandemic experiences, both business and personal.
While video calling has been around for a while – is anyone still using Skype? - Zoom’s popularity skyrocketed this year amid social distancing and lockdown requirements, with ingenious people taking the video format and turning it into something completely different. Zoom quizzes, happy hours and murder mysteries were the order of the day amongst friends and family - with some even attending virtual parties and weddings via Zoom. Plus, businesses have taken their morning meetings, post-work drinks and everything in between online into a video space (and we’ve all got a lot better acquainted with our colleagues’ cats, dogs, toddlers and window cleaners as a result).
What does this teach us and our Financial Reporter Awards finalists for 2021? The simple answer would be that it has taught us to embrace technology to find clever, timely solutions to old problems, and that’s certainly part of it.
But what the meteoric rise of video calling has also taught us this year is the true benefit of connection in the emotional and mental sense - not just the physical digital connection that makes that possible. For businesses in financial services, this is crucial - from having difficult conversations about tricky topics like critical illness and death, to brokers speaking directly to underwriters about a complicated case, connecting on a human level with our customers is just as important now as it ever was.
Which means our winners for ‘staying connected’ are the businesses who have been innovative and found new ways - or adapted old ways - to maintain that connection. We’ve seen businesses using Twitter polls to run quizzes, lender networking meetings by video call and some amazing responses to a changed environment - and these truly embody the winning values a business needs to succeed.
So how did HSBC UK stay connected to our brokers?
Through the use of technology alongside the great relationships that already existed, many of our brokers are now engaging even more with our BDMs to better understand how we can continue to work together to improve their customer journey; furthering their knowledge of our products and propositions and working together to place more business.
Utilising social media, Live Chat functionality and increasing our presence on digital platforms has given our brokers a new way to keep up to date with key messages. We have also promoted a number of webinars on LinkedIn to help educate our brokers on complex lending areas, and, to date, we have had over 7,000 brokers register.
And for our colleagues, we’ve introduced a number of well-being champions and with the help of technology, such as Zoom, we have been able to support the wellbeing of our colleagues through this challenging time. From team quizzes, race nights and physical challenges like ‘getting your steps in’, we have made sure that our colleagues continue to feel included and valued even with everybody at home, which in turn leads to our brokers receiving the best possible service.
HSBC UK has surpassed all expectations throughout this pandemic and we’re particularly proud of how much the bank has done to help communities, businesses and customers. In terms of mortgages, colleagues have collaborated across every department, better than ever before, and this has only helped improve the fantastic relationships we have with all our brokers.
If you’d like to see which businesses are finalists in the 2021 Financial Reporter Awards, please go to: www.financialreporterawards.co.uk.