Complaints handling the HPF way

27 October 2022
Creating a bond of trust between lender and customer is just one way Hunter Premium Funding looks to establish strong relationships with its customers.

Hunter Premium Funding takes customer complaints seriously when they happen. But we’re just as interested in creating a customer lending environment in which dissatisfaction isn’t allowed to take hold.

“We’re really serious about our approach to customer complaints – they’re a key focal point,” says Beau Goodyear, Chief Financial Officer at Hunter Premium Funding. “We’re happy to say that our rate of complaints is very low. But when they do come through, we work hard to communicate with our customer and our broker partners, and we seek to understand our workflows to establish the source of the complaint.”

An established and effective customer complaints process helps resolve complaints as quickly and fairly as possible. But we take a broader view of the customer experience by putting trust at the centre of its customer-lender interactions. Trust helps prevent a customer concern escalating into a formal complaint and it forms the basis of a mature lending relationship in which both parties can work through the customer’s lending journey together.

Hunter Premium Funding undertook research several months ago that delved into the issue of trust. We found that many customers were unaware of premium funding as a lending category and that, as a result, there was a lack of trust in what premium funders had to offer.

The findings have given Hunter Premium Funding renewed purpose to promote trust in our relationships with our premium funding customers.

Offering a defined and reliable complaints handling process has been one part of our strategy. Another has been to establish a significant program of work aimed at communicating with customers with respect and patience. In cases where a customer defaults on a loan instalment, for example, a letter is issued which recommends they visit our website to find out information on financial hardship and how they might access support if required.

We have also implemented efforts to remove compartmentalisation of the lending process so that customers can enjoy a seamless and transparent transition through each stage of their lending journey.

“Ultimately, we want to be known and trusted by our customers,” Goodyear explains. “We often say we want to be ‘first preference’ of premium funder in a customer’s mind. But we can only expect that to come about if we build connections with our customers and deliver on our promise to them.”

The positive initiatives we have implemented for our customers have taken place against a backdrop of sector-wide changes aimed at improving customers’ financial lending experiences.

There has recently been significant regulatory reform regarding customer complaints handling. The complaints handling body has transitioned from the former Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) to the now Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).

Its objective is to have the customer and lending organisation resolve an issue together without the need to engage the ombudsman.

The second observable change has been a lowering of the threshold for what can be considered a complaint against a financial services organisation.

The combined effect of these changes has been to put the onus on premium funding providers to improve their product and customer experience – and to seek ways to address customer complaints directly with the customer.

Furthermore, the introduction of the Insurance Premium Funding Code of Practice (which Hunter Premium Funding was a guiding force for) will mean that customers can expect any premium funder they engage with to adhere to an agreed set of acceptable standards.

Goodyear says recent growth in the size of the premium funding sector makes it clear that a new Code was needed and that customers deserve uniformity in how premium funders should interact with them. “Together as an industry, it’s important we show we’re doing the right thing for customers and making sure all our decisions are customer-centric,” Goodyear says.

But he adds that Hunter Premium Funding will continue to look at ways we can over-deliver to our own customers and provide the best possible product and service.

“We’ve put our own parameters in place and we’re assuring our work so we can build rapport and trust with our customers.”

For more on Hunter Premium Funding’s complaints handling process, visit our website.

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