Birevim - Customer Service Department of the Year
Company: Birevim, Istanbul, Turkey
Company Description: Birevim offers financing for homes and cars to low to middle income consumers. Rather than charge interest, like banks, Birevim only charges an upfront, nominal 7% commission based on the value of the home or car, and never charges any interest again. This unique sales model makes home or car ownership to marginal populations. Since its beginning in 2017, Birevim has doubled its size each year,
Nomination Category: Customer Service Department Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Customer Service Department of the Year - Consumer Products & Services
Nomination Title: Birevim
Tell the story about what this nominated department achieved since the beginning of July 2017 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:
How did Birevim’s Customer Service Department drive the company to double in size in just one year?
Birevim enables the marginalized majority of 7 million low to medium income Turkish families to purchase their own homes. Rather than paying 2-3 times the cost of their homes in mortgage interest over time, customers pay a nominal 9% ‘commission’ at the beginning, based on the value of the homes they are buying. The concept is so simple, it’s revolutionary.
Birevim surged into popularity, not so much because of any fancy advertising campaigns, but largely due to its novel customer service approach. This spurred massive word of mouth marketing that caused Birevim to grow more than 1000% since its late-2016 beginning. Customer service has supported 20,000 sales in just over 2 years…along with 20,000 live prospects in the works in 2018.
Birevim has grown at an unprecedented rate in the consumer financial services sector – from 4-46 branches between mid 2016-mid 2018.
Finding qualified customer service agents to staff the CS Department was frankly the biggest challenge Birevim faced when the company was formed. Lower-middle class families were the target. Yet few, if any financial services organizations provided services to this audience. Prospective agents from competing banks would have to ‘unlearn’ the customer service styles of those big companies who serviced middle to high income consumers. It was left to Birevim to provide comprehensive training to prepare new employees for the task.
Birevim formed its own Academy and trained new CS agents in servicing its novel value proposition to its target consumers. In response to eye-popping interest by the financial services sector and the government, Birevim also foresaw the need for more CS agents to be trained and ready for the inevitable demand for their talents. Hence the academy was designed for more than Birevim’s own immediate needs.
The slick, high pressured sales pitches for which the banks were known were out of the question. Rather, Birevim used the hospitable Turkish approach this segment knew so well: treating all prospects as they would guests in their homes.
Hospitality was the key to success.
Birevim knew that personal interactions, treating prospective customers as guests would instill consumer trust.
More than doubling its size to service a 100% increase in customer service volume, Birevim’s CS Department achieved the following in 2017-8 alone:
CALL CENTER: Front and back office CS staff analyzed, filtered and sorted the leads geographically and demographically – while engaging with prospects in a gentle, authentic way. The leads were handled by branch officers who were trained to use their own personal styles to generate trust and rapport.
FACE-TO-FACE WITH THE FAMILY: Families were encouraged to visit nearby branches to tailor their own mortgages: to understand alternative plans, choose their preferred plans, amount to be financed, monthly payment amount, loan duration that would work for them best.
SOCIAL GATHERINGS: Breakfast and dinner events were planned so families could gather with customer service and sales teams for friendly conversations about making their dreams of home ownership come true.
AFTER SALES: CS Department staff teamed with sales agents to visit home-buyer customers when they moved in their new homes, with gifts and traditional welcome baskets filled with sweets and flowers.
Birevim’s culturally sensitive customer service program produced unprecedented customer satisfaction – and sales - in consumer services. In 2017-8 alone, the CS Department:
-Grew CS Department from 160 to 400 people
-Managed 540,000 prospect communications
-Serviced 18,749 new customers
-Converted 7,348 prospects to customers in 2017-8 – a 10% conversion rate - a major achievement for a company of its size unrivalled by any of its competitors
-Turkey’s top complaint site ranked Birevim with 96% customer satisfaction, a testament to the CS Department’s success
In the end, exceptional customer service is the underpinning of Birevim’s unrivalled business success.
TTACHED: SEE CS DEPT PHOTO