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Marcus by Goldman Sachs - Customer Service Department of the Year

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2016, Click to Enter The 2017 Stevie Awards for Sales and Customer service

Company: Goldman Sachs Bank USA, New York, NY
Company Description: Marcus by Goldman Sachs provides products to help people manage their finances. The first product from Marcus is a fixed-rate, no-fee unsecured personal loan that enables customers to tailor their monthly payment options to fit their schedule and budget. Marcus, a brand of Goldman Sachs, benefits from the firm’s 147-year history of financial expertise, risk management and customer service.
Nomination Category: Customer Service Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Customer Service Department of the Year

Nomination Title: Marcus by Goldman Sachs: High Tech and High Touch

Tell the story about what this nominated organization/department has achieved since 1 January 2016 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms.

In early 2016 Goldman Sachs was developing a new endeavor –a consumer lending product for a new customer segment, with major customer service innovations that would differentiate its product from a crowded field of competitors.

With the launch of Marcus by Goldman Sachs™ in October of 2016, Goldman Sachs Bank USA introduced an online lending platform that’s distinctiveness is captured by its name. Marcus by Goldman Sachs is, essentially, a start-up with 147-years of expertise.

In a competitive field, what has made Marcus successful?

10,000 perspectives. Before beginning work, the Marcus team spoke with more than 10,000 consumers, through focus groups and in-depth interviews. The company learned that:

A major consumer pain point is variable interest rates on credit card debt, so Marcus has fixed interest rates for life of the loan and compared with existing high -interest credit card debt, the company expects that borrowers can save, on average, 3-5% in interest when refinancing that debt with a Marcus loan.

Consumers dislike fees, particularly unanticipated fees, so Marcus has none – no origination fees, fees for paying off a loan early, or late fees (consumers only pay the additional interest) – no fees ever.

Consumers want customizable solutions, not one size fits all terms, so with Marcus, customers can choose their loan and payment amount with many different loan durations. From there, Marcus presents loan options tailored to the individual borrower’s needs.

Consumers want recognition when they are making progress. As a reward, after making 12 or more consecutive monthly payments, Marcus allows customers to defer a payment, as long as all prior payments were made in full and on time, which creates incentives for positive long term financial behavior.

In line with addressing consumer issues, “no asterisks” was the Marcus team’s rallying cry – meaning that everything about the product would be designed with clarity and simplicity in mind, placing the customer at the center. There would be no fine print or sub-clauses.

As an example of how Marcus executed against this mandate:

Just two choices guide consumers on the Marcus website: How much do I want to borrow? How much do I want to pay each month?

Marcus was essentially created with consumers at the helm. Every element of the loan process, user experience and product design stemmed from Marcus’ in-depth research, its firsthand input from real people struggling with personal debt, and its commitment to eliminating consumer “pain points.”

The research also revealed that even the most tech-friendly consumers want to speak with a live person when they need it. Frustrations with automated attendants and voice prompts ran high.

So, while building the software needed for loan applications and processing, Marcus also opened a customer care center in Salt Lake City, staffed by representatives recruited and trained specifically to support Marcus customers. The center has no IVR technology or automated programming. Despite growing call volumes, all incoming calls are answered by a live loan specialist within 10 seconds.

In its recruitment and training of loan specialists, Marcus stresses personal empathy and relatability. It’s the ultimate frontier in the evolution of Marcus’ path-setting customer service – helping to relieve the anxiety and often shame that consumers experience with the onset of personal debt.

“Debt happens, it’s how you get out that counts” is the customer-centric catch phrase at Marcus. It epitomizes how the company has first listened to consumers, then built a new enterprise with a focus on providing the solutions they’ve asked for and need.

In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) accomplishments of the nominated department since the beginning of 2016 (up to 150 words).

-Built a customer centric model for online lending based on research with 10,000 consumers. Consumers were at the forefront when creating Marcus.
-Eliminated fees – all fees – from the personal loan experience.
-Created key customer service innovations, such as enabling customers to choose their own loan amount and monthly payment, pick their payment date and defer a monthly payment after 12 consecutive months of on time payments.
-Identified the need for real-time human assistance and reinvented the call center model, foregoing IVR (automated voice prompt) technology, and ensuring that live loan specialists – real people – answer all incoming calls within 10 seconds.
-Provided qualified customers with an alternative to high-interest credit card debt – unsecured personal loans – to help consumers manage their personal finances better.
-Identified anxiety and shame as a root issue affecting personal debt, and committed to starting a debt dialogue to reduce