An interview with Yorkshire Building Society’s ‘Inspirational Leader

1. Congratulations on your win! Can you explain what motivated you to enter the ‘Inspirational Leader’ category? 

The Customer Relations team has been on a major transformational journey over the past few years and strong leadership has been integral to our success. We wanted to celebrate and recognise this through the Inspirational Leader category.

2. There are some impressive statistics about the reduction in complaints YBS received since you joined the team in 2015. Can you share your secrets?

Thanks, we have achieved these reductions in two mains ways. Firstly we looked at eliminating the causes of complaints through good solid root cause analysis which drove business improvements. 

Secondly by improving our internal approaches to ensure we weren’t pushing customer queries down a complaints process unnecessarily. Over time, we also implemented changes to the FCA what does this mean??complaint handling rules in 2016 and used this as an opportunity to be very clear across the organisation on our definition of a complaint versus queries and feedback all supported by a first point of contact methodology. 

I am most proud of the successful engagement of the whole organisation in the elimination of the causes of complaints and the continuous improvement agenda it created.  So no real secrets I’m afraid but just a relentless focus on improving customer experiences with a clear objective of restoring and strengthening trust.

3. Can you remind us of some of those impressive complaint reduction figures, and have they continued to improve since your award win? 

We now have one of the lowest Financial Ombudsman Service overturn rates in the industry and of the complaints referred our decisions were supported in 87% of cases. Total complaints received have reduced by 70% and the number of customers receiving a formal response to their complaint has reduced by 48%.

These improvements have provided the platform to expand the activities the team are responsible for and we are now the Policy Owners for Vulnerable Customer Treatment. I feel it was the reputation we built through our complaints work that gave the Board the confidence to ask us to take on this new challenge.

I am a great believer in continuous improvement and this year we are working with Mary Gober, well known experts in behavioural and mind set training, so we can enhance our conversations and written communications with customers.

4. How have you found your experience at YBS and what has been the most rewarding part of your journey?

The YBS Group is a great organisation full of really committed and passionate people and it’s been a genuine pleasure to work here over the past 2 years. The Customer Relations team faced a number of challenges when I first joined but being able to support the team to get back in control, focus on our core objective ‘restore and strengthen trust’ and influence the organisation to remove the causes of complaints has been fantastic.

The most rewarding part of my journey has been watching the team grow and develop in confidence. The indicators like NPS and overturn rates then speak for themselves but they have all been enabled by developing a great team.  

5. What reaction did your team have to your award win?

They were of course delighted and we had brought along a number of colleagues to the event to thank them for their part in our journey – so both the event and the win were causes for celebration.

We used the win as an opportunity for some internal communications and publicity. I think it would be fair to say back in early 2015, if you were to ask colleagues across YBS what they thought of Customer Relations it wouldn’t have been very positive and clearly things have changed over the past 2 years and we wanted to shout about it. The award provided some external validation of those improvements and was an extra boost to the team and the wider organisation.

6. If you could choose only one highlight, what are you most proud of achieving as Operations Manager? 

As a mutual organisation, building trust is core to what we are about. You can measure trust in a number of ways but specifically for complaint handling it’s been about Financial Ombudsman Overturn rate – can our customers trust our decision making? 

I am pleased to say overturned decisions have come down and we are one of the best in the industry and engagement has improved. However we have to keep adapting, improving and being curious to how colleagues and customers need change. So I don’t take anything for granted and I keep focused on how we keep improving.