Caring for vulnerable customers

Our dedicated Priority Care team helps our customers when they need us the most.

At some point in life, you may find yourself in a vulnerable situation and feel uncertain about what might happen next. But where your finances, superannuation or insurance are concerned, you can be confident BT is here to help.

Extra care for customers

BT’s specialist Priority Care team provides extra care for our most vulnerable customers in their time of need. Since it was created in 2018, the team has helped over 15,000 customers. 

According to Chris Chetwynd, BT’s National Manager for Priority Care & Community, as soon as they set up the pilot team for Priority Care, they immediately realised how vital it was to have a dedicated service for our most vulnerable customers. 

Chris, says, “Making a claim at a time when you’re dealing with a terminal illness or severe emotional distress can be an extremely arduous process. We want to remove the complexity and anxiety of having to tell your story to multiple people, filling in forms and endless phone calls sitting on hold, instead allowing people access to their money so they can live their best (and safest) life the way they want to.”

Every day, our frontline contact centre and the team of national case managers help customers in so many ways, whether it’s organisation support, process support or financial support. 

“We help them navigate the company to get to the right area quickly. We advocate for them, providing context to decision makers who can then make better-informed decisions about the customer’s case. We help ensure urgent cases are prioritised to avoid delays. We even help in emergency situations, like natural disasters or where someone is stuck overseas”.

The industry agrees

In 2019, the Banking Code of Practice was released and recognised the need for financial institutions to provide a higher standard of customer care, introducing a vulnerable customers section. Appropriate care for vulnerable customers became a compliance requirement, but BT was already a step ahead. 

Our team and processes were already in place to not only meet the requirements, but far exceed them. On top of the customer categories outlined in the legislation (which include age-related impairment, cognitive impairment, elder abuse, family or domestic violence, financial abuse, mental illness and serious illness), we also help connect customers to support services for carers, emergency accommodation or support following natural disasters, or in response to a global pandemic like COVID-19.

Empathy and compassion shine through

When Chris talks about his team, it’s with passion and pride.

“It takes a certain type of person to work in the Priority Care team. We need people who understand how to show genuine compassion and empathy to customers. They’re able to put themselves in the customer’s shoes and think about how they would feel in that situation. Above all else, our goal is to assist customers regain control of their lives and put them back on the path to achieve their goals.”

Chris says he’s so proud of his team – who deal with all types of customers. “Some have suffered loss through an extreme weather event, others have found themselves in a situation of financial hardship or are worried about living with a debilitating disease like dementia. Whatever the scenario, our team is there at the end of the phone to offer support and a solution.”

Every customer receives a dedicated case manager and a dedicated phone number they can call directly. This means they never have to go through the contact centre and they never have to tell their story more than once.

“What’s more, we offer any vulnerable customer the option of being flagged as a customer who needs extra care, so that whoever they come into contact with across Westpac Group can be aware of their situation and offer the right type of extra support.”

Supporting early release of super during COVID-19

In 2020, BT helped 147,000 members with early release of super payments totalling $2.4 billion.

In one case, our customer was struggling emotionally and financially after they lost their business and an income of $150,000 due to COVID. 

Priority Care’s case manager helped with early release from super and created a future financial plan, including support from the National Debt helpline.

“I am awaiting to organise a proper mental health plan now. Thanks so much for your help, and for being a great listener… Both of you were amazing to talk to and so much help... I am very appreciative of the service provided and exceptional understanding by you both”.

Going the extra mile

The Priority Care team receives referrals from all parts of the business. When a customer is identified as needing extra care, the team steps in to provide one-on-one support. 

Chris explains, “we assess every customer case on its unique set of circumstances. Not only do we attempt to provide the customer the help they are asking for, but we look for ways to provide extra care from across our group to make our customers lives easier. For example, if a customer presents with a terminal illness, is in financial hardship and requests help to access their super, we will also ask their permission to review all products they have with us across the group.“  

“The Priority Care team has transformed the way we help customers, and the feedback we receive from customers and their families reinforces that it’s working, and that we make a genuine difference during challenging times.”

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We know our customers may need support in different ways, at different times in their lives. Here is how we can help if you, or someone close to you, is in need of extra care.: extra care, financial hardship, financial abuse, domestic and family violence

There are limited circumstances that may enable you to access your super before retirement, such as severe financial hardship, or if you have worked in Australia as a temporary resident.

Always here to help

BT’s Priority Care team is here to help if you are in need of extra care. Call us and you will be referred to one of our case managers.

Phone us on 132 135
8:30am-5:30pm (AEST), Monday - Friday.

This article was prepared by BT, a part of Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141, AFSL and Australian Credit Licence 233714. This information is current as at 22 July 2021.  

This article provides an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such.  It does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and so you should consider its appropriateness, having regard to these factors before acting on it. This information may contain material provided by third parties derived from sources believed to be accurate at its issue date. While such material is published with necessary permission, no company in the Westpac Group accepts any responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of, or endorses any such material. Except where contrary to law, we intend by this notice to exclude liability for this material. BT cannot give tax advice. Any tax considerations outlined in this article are general statements, based on an interpretation of the current tax law, and do not constitute tax advice. As such, you should not place reliance on any such taxation considerations as a basis for making your decision with respect to the product.

Superannuation is a means of saving for retirement, which is, in part, compulsory. The government has placed restrictions on when you can access your investment held in superannuation. There will be tax consequences if you breach these caps.  For more detail, speak with a financial adviser or visit the ATO website.