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How Virgin Money’s campaigns helped customers affected by Hurricane Irma

Through 2018 and 2019 Virgin Money ran campaigns to support customers facing sudden job losses, then expanded them to help customers at immediate risk after natural disasters. The outstanding success of this initiative secured the Best Conduct and Culture Award, at the 2019 Collections & Customer Service Awards. The winning entry is detailed here.

Virgin Money explained it undertook an initiative to make Everyone Better Off (EBO) by putting customers at the heart of everything it does. This has driven its efforts over the past three years to take pre-emptive customer engagement.


At the heart of this initiative is the Company Watch campaign. According to its entry, the purpose of Company Watch is to have conversations with potentially financially vulnerable customers in an extremely timely manner without using traditional bureau, scoring or behavioural techniques.


The Company Watch campaign is triggered when a large or national employer announces administration or large-scale redundancies. According to the entry, a cross-functional group of colleagues meet within an hour of the media coverage or announcement to agree a bespoke strategy.


Colleagues from Virgin Money’s risk, operations, PR, strategy and MI teams form the group. It aims to quickly establish the number of mortgage, card and current account customers that may be impacted as they previously informed us they were employed by the firm. It also works to establish strategy – purpose, objective, contact and key messages.


Judges were impressed that upon agreement of the team’s strategy, an operational team of specialists swiftly start contacting the affected customers. This, the entry states, is usually within a matter of hours of the media coverage or announcement.


“Within two hours of the hurricane hitting the Caribbean, Virgin Money had identified 40 customers that completed a recent transaction on Virgin Money card within close proximity to the path of the hurricane”


According to the entry, although many of the customers contacted were not affected or may no longer have worked for the company concerned, they were nevertheless impressed with its speed, thoughtfulness and offer of support.


According to the entry, following on from the success of the Company Watch campaign, the lender extended the strategy to include a Disaster Watch campaign. This was instigated to react immediately, when a natural disaster impacted Virgin Money’s customers.


An example was when Hurricane Irma (the strongest storm on record to exist in the open Atlantic region) hit the Caribbean in 2017. Within two hours of the hurricane hitting the Caribbean, Virgin Money had identified 40 customers that completed a recent transaction on a Virgin Money card within close proximity to the path of the hurricane. An SMS message was sent offering support and assistance if required.


The entry states that both Virgin Money’s ‘Company Watch’ and ‘Disaster Watch’ campaigns were not "just innovative", they were also unique, with industry benchmarking data confirming that while other lenders monitor large-scale insolvencies and redundancies, Virgin Money was the only mainstream lender in the industry operating both campaigns simultaneously.


Virgin Money’s entry said that by working collaboratively, both internally and externally, it has ensured the right customer outcome is achieved, especially in the most challenging of circumstances.

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