Jeff Judy

Jeff's Thoughts - August 23, 2017

Rethinking "Handoffs"

For any given credit, the customer and the file are given attention by multiple players in multiple roles. That means an ever larger accumulation of information has to be repeatedly passed from one function to the next, as the credit request goes through the established credit process.

Unfortunately, information can be lost, or distorted, or even incorrectly added at each of those "seams" between functions. The proper handling of the borrower's information at each step is crucial to making the right decision, as well as to providing an excellent customer experience for the potential borrower.

That's why, when I'm involved in training credit staff, we often spend a fair amount of time exploring these "handoffs" between roles. I put a lot of emphasis on the dangers of poor handoffs, and the benefits of good ones. It is at these handoffs that an otherwise sound credit process can fail, leading to poor decisions, customer dissatisfaction, and even friction between roles that impacts employee morale.

Maybe we need to think about the interaction between roles at these "seams" in the credit process a little differently. After all, the notion of "handing off" something to someone else has a connotation of getting rid of it, kind of like a game of "hot potato". And we think of the best handoffs in sports, whether football or a relay race, as those that take the least amount of time. We praise the handoffs where the baton is almost instantaneously passed from one hand to the next.

Wouldn't we be better served to think of those seams, not as a time to pass the customer from one function to the next, but as opportunities to share those customers? Instead of thinking of a quick, efficient handoff, like throwing the customer over the fence to the next function, visualize both functions reaching across that fence to make sure the customer is securely supported all the way.

Both parties in the handoff should take just a little extra time to make sure all the right information is there, to clarify any grey areas, to discuss any special conditions or factors in the request. A little time spent sharing information about the borrower and the request can save a ton of time dealing with the problems that arise from a poor handoff.

When a credit request goes from staff person A to staff person B, it is easy to think of that as two steps. Let's think of it as three: Staff A, Staff A&B together, Staff B. Instead of thinking of the "seam" as a boundary that separates roles, think of it as a place in the process where two roles interact, where they work together to achieve better results for everyone.

This interaction does not have to take a lot of time. It is largely a matter of mindset. But this small investment in rethinking handoffs will definitely pay good returns into your credit business.