Tim Wheeldon is joint managing director at Fluent Money
As the first quarter of 2014 draws to a close, the outlook for UK business is fairly optimistic.
The Spring Budget announcement last week boasted of a buoyant return to prosperity for Britain’s ‘makers, doers and savers’, inviting the potential for increased consumer confidence and aspirational borrowing.
However, past experience has taught us that complacency does not pay, a truism evident in the Chancellor’s announcement.
Raising the tax interest threshold might provide relief for some, but in the same beat, middle-class consumers have found themselves facing a 40% tax rise. As the national economy takes its first tentative steps towards a full recovery, there are still plenty of pitfalls for those on their way back into the black.
In order to accommodate the changing needs of customers and sustain its own continued progress, the lending sector ought to take positive messaging as an incentive to invest its earnings in the things that matter.
Improving customer service, creating streamlined processes and broadening the accessibility of its products to reach a wider audience all produce customer outcomes that will stand the industry in strong stead for years to come.
Investment is important for any business, but for the lending industry in particular it is vital that supporting services continue to evolve with the changing needs of its customers.
Not only are millions of UK consumers still struggling with their finances, but the industry itself still often falls prey to a number of public misconceptions.
Managing customer expectations with transparent and efficient services dispels undue scepticism from borrowers, and improves accessibility for the publicly overlooked consumers that still require lending services.
There might be some reluctance amongst financial service providers to invest heavily in customer service when they themselves are getting back on their feet after a tough few years.
However, while company turnover might have slowed for some throughout the recession, technological advances have evolved at a rapid rate.
Tapping into new online resources and making the most of modern processes to further customer support services is a must for any growing businesses, and is now expected by most consumers.
Sharper design, progressive interactive tools and simple, efficient methods of providing constructive feedback will be instrumental in maintaining a successful business in the financial sector.
Simplifying the structure of customer service and improving online accessibility will ensure that customers enquiring about loan advice can reach a reliable source and track their cases easily and effectively.
Making these changes might seem an obvious move, but a clear-cut strategy is essential for maximising the potential for predicted successes throughout 2014.
Customers need the fastest, simplest and most reliable tools for finding support and providing feedback to be sure they are in safe hands.
Investing in customers is the financial sector’s insurance for the coming years, and will be invaluable to the millions of UK consumers still working to get their finances back on track.
Building a better Britain for the nation’s savers is an exciting prospect, but in order to realise this vision, financial services need to be prepared to invest in their customers and reap the rewards.