Experian has released its latest consumer data, revealing how lenders have adapted the way that they deal with hardships after the second wave of major lockdowns in Australia.
Customer expectations regarding hardship assistance have moved, with 60% of polled Australians saying that they think lenders have dealt with customers well in response to the pandemic.
Experian provided the data insights, and their general manager of decision analytics for Australia and New Zealand, Mat Demetriou, said that opinions had changed over time, as banks’ processes had also adapted.
“What has changed since our last report is the long lockdowns in New South Wales in Victoria, which is putting increasing pressure on a lot of people,” he said. “As a result, we’re seeing a fairly significant spike in terms of payment deferrals.”
“That’s across mortgages and personal lending, including credit cards. We’ve seen a spike in business owners requesting assistance as well, which isn’t that surprising, especially those in sectors that have either stopped trade or seen a slowdown during lockdown.”
“One of the key things to note is that the banks are much better prepared now to support customers through hardship than perhaps they were in early 2020.”
“In the past 18 months, banks – and I would throw telecommunications and utility companies into the mix as well – have increased their hardship and collections teams, but they’re also using more sophisticated data tech to assess customer circumstances.”
Experian partners with banks to help them improve processes and assist their customers when they fall behind.
“Our research has seen us partner with Big Four banks like ANZ and Westpac to provide them with these tools: cloud-based, digital portals where customers can submit hardship applications online,” explained Demetriou.
“We’re using things like AI and virtual assistants to allow customers to more discreetly interact with their banks. That’s been really effective.”
“It’s in the bank’s best interest to make sure that they can maintain you as a customer, and a lot of the hardship that we’re seeing now through Covid are a short-term blip.”
“When lockdowns get removed and they get back to normal trading, they’ll be in a position to stop payment deferrals and can continue to fulfil their lending obligations as they were prior to the lockdowns.”
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