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first direct makes house calls to check on customers’ well-being

05 June 2020

Over the last few weeks, first direct has been reaching out to thousands of customers who – due to the official guidance around isolation – may be feeling vulnerable, in order to see how they are coping.

Health, age and personal circumstances all have the ability to make people feel vulnerable, and it’s often these people who have specific concerns about their finances.

first direct had already written to all of its customers about the financial support being offered, but has also now contacted thousands of customers by phone to simply ask how they are during lockdown.

Anna MacFarlane, Head of Commercial at first direct, said: “We wanted to make sure we spoke to customers personally as we know people sometimes respond differently on the phone than they do to letters. We feel quite strongly that we have a duty of care to those who have the potential to be vulnerable in some way to see if there is more we can do for them.

“Thankfully, most of the time they were fine and were coping, but if we managed to help any customers – even just a tiny bit – by giving them someone to talk to about anything they’re going through then it was worth it.”

Positive customer feedback

Customer feedback to the calls has been positive, with many customers pleased to have someone to talk to about their well-being:

“Thank you for your help with my situation, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my chest, I don’t usually get asked how I am coping and what first direct is doing is an amazing thing. If I win the lottery I will share it with the lady that called me.”

“Thank you for your concern I’m touched by how much you care, and want to tell you I love speaking to you because you are all so nice.”

Package of measures to support first direct customers

first direct had contacted all of its customers to let them know what financial support it can offer to those who need it.


  • Still open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • All calls to main line answered by a real human – no press a for x or by for y
  • Majority of contact centre people are now working from home and they have been given the tech and training to service customers securely during this period
  • Call waiting times added to phone lines, so customers have the opportunity to call back
  • Paused taking on new current account customers, so we can focus on helping existing customers
  • Updating our website daily and frequently posting on our social channels to keep customers updated as well as communicating directly with customers where appropriate

Mortgage support

  • Mortgage payment holidays of up to 3 months, with the ability to apply online
  • Option to change rate and/or extend term to reduce monthly payments
  • Offer extensions
  • New detailed Help & Advice section on website

Overdraft support

  • Temporary £500 interest-free overdraft subject to available overdraft limit being agreed
  • Temporary interest rate reduction for agreed overdrafts over £500 (to 19.9%)

Personal Loan support

  • Option to defer monthly loan repayments for up to 3 months, with the ability to apply online

Credit Card support

  • Credit card payment holiday for up to 3 months, with the ability to apply online

Travel insurance support

  • Your travel questions answered Help & Advice Section on website
  • Claiming money back from a debit or credit card purchase Help & Advice Section on website

Insurance support

  • Coronavirus and your life insurance new Help and Advice Section on website

Clean money support

  • Supporting initiatives to use contactless payments with social posts advising customers how to do this including the increase to £45
  • Increasing the amount of transactions required before ‘pin’ requested

Digital support

  • Digital specialists can help customers with digital banking (also available to help customers get set up with online food shopping etc where needed)
  • Step by step help videos to assist customers with digital transactions such as setting up new payees and making payments

Additional support for chamged circumstances

  • Top up training on spotting vulnerable customers who might be affected by current situation so the appropriate prompt action can be taken with external agencies (e.g. suicide and domestic abuse)
  • Changes to processes for bereavement and power of attorney due to these now having to be done from customers’ homes


For further information please email Ben Marquand at ben.marquand@firstdirect.com or call 0113 2766700.

Notes to Editors:

About first direct

first direct provides mobile banking, online and telephone services to its 1.5m customers and offers a full range of personal banking products including its multi-award winning current account and mortgages. It’s been recognised as being a pioneer of amazing customer service by numerous independent third parties including The Competition and Markets Authority, Which?, Moneywise, Moneyfacts and Moneysavingexpert.com. As well as its Facebook pagefirst direct uses social media to engage with customers through LinkedInYouTube and Twitter.