Nationwide, a mutual building society, enhanced the way it carried out its core purpose of safeguarding its members' financial interests by developing a Specialist Support Service with charity partner Macmillan.
In 2014, the financial services industry was challenged by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to improve the support given to vulnerable customers.
Around the same time, Nationwide's longstanding strategic charity partner, Macmillan (a cancer support charity), produced research which highlighted how serious the financial impact of cancer could be. It found 83% of people were on average £570 worse off each month, with 95% of cancer patients not contacting their bank or building society when faced with financial difficulty out of fear of getting no help or even making the situation worse. Of those who did make contact, over a third said that no support was offered.
Working in consultation with Macmillan, Nationwide developed a Specialist Support Team (SST) which offers bespoke, high quality support to help customers manage their finances and reduce stress after a cancer diagnosis. Customers are also offered further support via a referral link to the Macmillan helpline.
Nationwide and Macmillan together reviewed relevant policies, products and procedures, making sure the SST could provide the most effective advice and support. This led to a total of 66 product policy exceptions being agreed.
Nationwide chose to be fully transparent in the development of this service, providing a blueprint for other organisations to follow. Due to its success, the service has now been extended to customers with other potentially life-limiting diseases.
The SST has increased employee skills and engagement, and improved customer service. 76% of staff agree that branch customers affected received a better customer experience as a result of the service; 87% reported an increased understanding of the financial impacts of cancer, and 91% agreed that they now have greater pride in the Nationwide brand.
Nationwide's reputation has increased, both inside the financial services industry and beyond. It has been invited to contribute to the work of a range of organisations, including BBA Bereavement working group, National Mental Capacity Leadership Forum and the Banking Standards Board.
Customers referred to Macmillan helpline via Nationwide have received a total of over £300,000 in benefits, increasing their financial security and peace of mind at an extremely stressful time.
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