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We Hear You! GIF’s Customer Service Commitments to Applicants

Posted 1st April 2016

We are striving to improve our customer service.

We hear you! In our efforts to improve our customer service to our community of applicants and investees, we have been gathering some feedback to understand what innovators value when interacting with potential funders like the Global Innovation Fund. This blog summarises the key messages we have heard from innovators, and explains how we are striving to action this feedback.

We give every applicant the chance to give us feedback on our application process via a customer service survey. We’d like to extend a big THANK YOU to the 120+ applicants who took the time to fill out our customer satisfaction survey. We have also interviewed a handful of applicants in more depth.


What we heard from innovators

Overall, applicants reported that the process of applying to GIF is easier than or similar to that of other funders. More than 60% of applicants thought we were “very fast” or “fast” in our response times compared to other funders.

In addition to positive feedback, we received a number of suggestions for how we can improve our application process. We hear that:

  • You want to know how we make decisions
  • You want to know how long it takes us to make decisions
  • You want clarity on how decisions will be communicated


GIF’s Customer Service Commitments

In response to the input, we have developed the following customer service commitments.

(1) We strive to be transparent about our investment criteria and process

We know that it’s important for innovators to know how we make decisions about what we fund. To that end, we provide materials on our website to explain our investment criteria and our application process.

We understand that simply stating our criteria is not always enough to help innovators understand what we look for – however it’s an important first step. We received feedback from applicants that you want even greater clarity on how we make decisions. We hear you! We are working on developing some supporting materials to help innovators see how we apply our criteria to real investments. Stay tuned to this blog channel in the weeks and months ahead!

(2) We strive to set clear expectations on timelines

A second key message that we heard from innovators is that you want to know how long it takes us to make decisions. Overall, most applicants seem happy with our response times.  To date, the average first response time has been 35 days. But we recognise that there have been some outliers who haven’t received the timely communication we would hope. We are now committing to a first response to all initial applicants within six weeks. We will be actively tracking these response times, and in the interests of transparency, will publish our first response times later this year.

For those innovators who pass the initial screen (i.e., those for whom the first response is that GIF needs more information to make our funding decision), we do not think it is helpful to commit to a generic timeframe. The time to move from initial conversation to a funding agreement is determined by two things:

  • The size and complexity of the funding request – smaller or more straight-forward deals can be completed more quickly; whereas later stage deals, or those with many moving parts, require a longer time frame to reach a funding agreement
  • Priorities of the innovator – if the innovator wants to push the investment through quickly and has time to engage with our team on due diligence and contracting, we can move quickly. However if your team has many competing priorities, it will take longer to come to a funding agreement.

Given the nuances of each application, we will agree on timeframes with each applicant invited to submit a full application.

(3) We strive to communicate our decisions clearly

We understand that “maybe” is a frustrating answer – so we endeavour to make a clear yes/no decision at each point in our investment process and communicate that clearly to applicants.

One of the loudest messages that we have heard from the rejected applicants is that you want feedback on why your application was rejected. We understand why you want feedback: good feedback that is received with an open mind can result in important learning.

We have reflected internally about when we think we can give useful feedback to applicants. As a general principle, we provide more feedback to applicants who move further along our process. We cannot provide feedback to those applicants that do not meet our investment criteria at the initial application stage, unfortunately.  For those applicants who do show promise against our investment criteria, you will have the opportunity to actively engage with our investment team through a more in-depth due diligence process. Feedback is important in the process of co-creation, so we commit to a two-way conversation with high-potential applicants that pass our initial screen.


The reputation we want to build

We want to build a reputation for being a responsive and supportive funder that works with the highest potential innovators to support them on their path to improve the lives of millions of the world’s poorest people. This customer service commitment is a first step; we hope to continuously improve and iterate on this in the future.