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Hurry up and wait, the dynamic of the designation journey

Date 24th November 2016 //
Author Adam Tavener
Human, Person, Overcoat, Clothing, Apparel
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I’m not sure which particular animal this year is associated with according to the Chinese Zodiac, but in the world of Clifton and ABF it will surely become known as “The Year of The Nervously Awaited Outcome”.

Having written a blog about our experiences in submitting an expression of interest in becoming a designated platform (I won’t go over all the background again, surely not necessary by now) just a few months ago, here I am again, doing the exact same thing for the next part in the process.

I have begun to understand the dynamic of the designation journey as being something of a very unequal partnership. Both sides need each other for this to work, yet the one side has the say in how everything is going to happen, and the counterparty simply has to comply.

In the real world this translates as “we want absolutely bucket loads of detailed information by this date, or else”. “This date” being a punishingly tight time frame, and, once the requested proposal is submitted, usually with hours to spare, the mood music changes to “thanks, we’ll get back to you at some point. Can’t say when, just leave it with us, there’s a good chap”.

Now I’m not complaining. I am sure that putting candidate platforms under pressure to deliver quality at speed is a pretty good test of how serious the business is in its promises to deliver outstanding customer experience at volume. What it does mean, however, is that the ABF team have essentially two modes of being, either, A: running round like your hair is on fire or, B: project delivered, wait nervously for outcome.

Should we be judged worthy of passing into the next phase of the designation process I suspect it will all get a bit more collaborative and grown up from here, with the Business Bank and their appointed consultants conducting interviews, testing capability and commenting on the customer experience side of things. I guess. Since no one has ever done this before its hard to be sure.

So, now we are in nervously waiting mode, continuing to build what will be a market-defining ABF version 2.0, but still in that funny place that has two possible outcomes, both equally feasible, viable models, but we don’t know which will apply to us. I guess that you could consider us both designated and not designated at the same time and thus we are in much the same state as Schrödinger’s Cat.

Clever paradoxes notwithstanding, ABF continues to exist in the real world, and on that front things are pretty impressive. Of the site partners who regularly monitor their traffic source, the feedback is crystal clear - ABF is delivering volume, consistently, and would appear to be the overwhelmingly dominant player in the aggregator platform space.

So far so good, but it’s still a nervous wait to see if we get through to the next phase. Good luck to all the other candidate platforms, in the end we are all trying to do the same thing - deliver better outcomes for SMEs looking to grow, and thus significantly boost the UK economy.

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