BBRS consultation shows wide demand for new service…

BBRS consultation shows wide demand for new service to resolve SME banking complaints, as pilot phase customers and stakeholders welcome alternative approach to dispute resolution

29th September – The Business Banking Resolution Service (BBRS) has today released two reports following an in-depth qualitative study with Live Pilot customers and an extensive consultation exercise with a range of stakeholder groups.

Independent qualitative research, comprising focus groups and one-to-one interviews, found that customers who have been participating in the BBRS’ Live Pilot ‘test’ phase rated their experience very highly and had positive suggestions on how the service could evolve further when it goes live this autumn.

Meanwhile, a consultation exercise with stakeholder organisations has reflected a high level of demand for the new service.

Reports on both listening exercises have been published on the BBRS’ website today.

The work has been undertaken to ensure the service is developed in line with the needs of its customers – for both historical and contemporary cases – in what is a particularly uncertain period for SMEs.

The BBRS is a non-profit organisation set up to resolve disputes between larger eligible SMEs and participating banks and will fully launch in the autumn. Seven major banks have worked in partnership with SME stakeholders to launch this new, free, service. It has been designed to take a personal and flexible approach to each case and will use a range of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) techniques to resolve SME complaints.

The Live Pilot customer focus group report explored the personal experiences of customers or their representatives taking part in the Live Pilot. It found that:

  • All Live Pilot customers gave the service 10/10 for how likely they were to recommend the BBRS to others
  • Respondents said that the BBRS “offered hope” for finding a resolution to ongoing complaints which they were not able to find elsewhere
  • Customers appreciated the bespoke service they received and the BBRS’ Customer Champions were seen as particularly helpful in supporting businesses through the process
  • Although not in doubt by those taking part in the Live Pilot, respondents highlighted the need to demonstrate the BBRS’ transparency and independence as part of its launch

In light of covid-19 and the context in which the service will launch, the BBRS has also spoken to a range of stakeholders – including those who advise businesses and those who work in public policy – as part of a broader consultation process. The summary report highlights that:

  • There was understood to be a current gap for businesses too large to use the Financial Ombudsman Service but for whom it would be onerous to challenge a bank in court – ADR and the BBRS were believed to offer a good solution to this
  • Respondents recognised many advantages of ADR, including perceived ‘softer’ benefits, such as the potential for privacy during the process; the ability to protect relationships between SMEs and banks; and the space to air grievances and have them heard. For many cases, full adjudication will not be necessary and there is clearly value in schemes such as this, that use a variety of ADR techniques to achieve resolution

Chair of the BBRS, Lewis Shand Smith commented:

“We are committed to ensuring that the BBRS will be the subject of continuous review and improvement and listening widely to people’s experiences is part and parcel of that. These reports show the in-depth consultation processes we have undertaken to ensure the service is ready to go live in the autumn.

“We tailor our approach to the needs of the individual and to the nature of the dispute. We are committed to learning and improving and, while delighted by the positive feedback received, we are equally happy to act on the suggestions for improvement.

“Once the BBRS has launched in autumn, together with the banks and key stakeholders who represent the SME community, we shall be raising awareness of the services we offer with the aim of bringing resolution to a meaningful number of complaints.”

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Notes to Editors

Media contacts

Portland PR
Press Office: +44 207 554 1776 | BBRS@portland-communications.com

Jon McLeod, Director of Communications
Contact: +44 7398376094 |  jon.mcleod@thebbrs.org

About the BBRS

The BBRS is a dispute resolution service set up to resolve disputes between eligible small and medium sized businesses and participating banks. The BBRS is being established in accordance with a voluntary commitment made by the banking and finance industry in response to the Simon Walker Review on the small business complaints landscape.

An Implementation Steering Group was established in January 2019, and is driving and overseeing the development of the service in line with the banking and finance industry’s commitment and agreed terms of reference. The seven participating banks are: Barclays, Danske Bank, HSBC UK, Lloyds Banking Group (including Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland), NatWest Group (including Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest and Ulster Bank Northern Ireland), Santander UK plc, Virgin Money (including Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank). Alongside the participating banks, the Implementation Steering Group comprises many representative groups acting on behalf of small and medium sized businesses.

The so-called ‘Live Pilot’, set up at the end of last year, is looking at over 40 cases. Some date back as far as 2001, others arose in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, some are more recent. The pilot has been testing some of the policies and procedures on which this new approach to handling business customers’ complaints is based. The independent BBRS will go live this autumn.

For more information visit the BBRS website https://thebbrs.org/.