At BNP Paribas Personal Finance, there are many jobs in customer relations: market research, after-sales service, loan grants, debt collection, etc. Lydie does not just work in one of these areas, but across them all. She can act at any time to assist customers facing financial hardship by providing advice and personal support. Her work demands empathy, trust and approachability. She described to us her understanding of the job and her daily tasks.
Could you please introduce yourself?
My name is Lydie and I’ve worked at BNP Paribas Personal Finance since 1998. I’ve held various positions in customer relations, and in 2015 I moved to the Cetelem Budget Support department at Mérignac.
How would you describe your job?
Our department looks into how to prevent the situation of financially vulnerable customers from deteriorating further. My job involves listening to the customer, noting what they tell me, analysing it, and drawing up a support plan with them based on the facts they’ve described to me. The goal is to then provide them with the best advice to help them out of their difficult situation.
What drew you to this department rather than any other?
This department brings together all the activities that I had previously worked in. Just as in any customer relations job, you have to demonstrate genuine listening skills. And to ensure the customer follows the solution I suggest, a good ability to negotiate is essential. Moreover, I have to fully understand loan origination so that I can make proposals on restructuring debts.
What does your day-to-day work centre on?
Our task is to distinguish between a vulnerable customer and a non vulnerable one; the latter will remain in a classic customer relations process after our analysis. We have to identify the source of the customer’s difficulties through an exploratory interview. This allows us to help with debt restructuring and/or budget guidance when possible. We also assist them in their efforts. We make the NPS (NPS which measures the level of recommendation of the company by its customers) one of our priorities.
Isabelle Petit spoke to us earlier about providing support to customers. How exactly do you support your customers?
We offer recommendations to our customers. When we examine their budgets, we ask them to describe their expenses, which can help us determine which costs can be reduced. We also try to find solutions that will help them manage their money. For example, we can advise them to use personal finance applications like Bankin: it lets you see different items of expenditure and, ideally, reduce them.
The human element is at the heart of your work. What qualities, in your opinion, are necessary to be a good adviser to customers facing financial difficulties?
A genuine social conscience is necessary while also knowing how to maintain a certain distance to protect yourself. You should also have very good listening and analysis skills and not be judgemental at all. Our customers have very different profiles, disparate resources and each one is motivated by their own needs, values and interests: such things should not differentiate our actions. Having a team spirit is also a real advantage; some situations affect us personally and it’s important to feel that we can share and rely on the rest of the team.
Can you tell us of any ‘happy ever afters’?
We often receive words of appreciation over the phone. People are really astonished by the follow-up care we give and the help we can offer them. There was one person who, because of several debts, was in difficulty, so I directed her to our partner Crésus who would assist in her applying for a grace period. In the end, I realised that she still paid her monthly instalments to us on time. When I spoke to her on the phone again, she told me she had applied for a grace period only for her other debts, not the one with us. She made paying us first her priority because we were the only ones who had helped her.
How would you describe your work in a few words?
For me, it’s a source of pride to be there for our customers and help them overcome difficult situations.