Trade credit insurance, available from private insurers, lenders and the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM Bank), enables small businesses to offer credit terms to international buyers and protects small businesses from nonpayment for their goods.
In 2015, EXIM Bank contracted with an independent research company to conduct a survey of over 2,200 small business exporter customers with recent experience working with the Bank’s export credit insurance product. The purpose of the survey was:
- Better understand the current state of EXIM Bank’s small business customers’ export business
- Identify opportunities to improve the ease of doing business with EXIM Bank
Export credit insurance customers were chosen for this survey because the export credit insurance product is EXIM Bank’s highest volume product line, with thousands of transactions underwritten for small businesses every year.
574 surveys were completed (~26 percent response rate) with respondents identifying themselves as CEO (32 percent), Financial Manager (46 percent), Sales and Marketing Manager (12 percent) and other (10 percent), with 62 percent of those respondents having 50 or fewer employees. The industries reporting most frequently included manufacturing, agriculture as well as forestry, fishing and hunting. 85 percent of respondents are exporting to one market, with the remainder selling to multiple markets. Responses revealed:
- Exports accounted for more than 80 percent of revenue for 18 percent of respondents
- Exports increased for 69 percent of respondents in the five years leading up to the survey
EXIM Bank’s Impact on Small Business
Respondents then answered a series of questions on the impact that working with EXIM Bank had on their ability to expand exports. Response options to each question used a 5-point scale with anchors of “strongly agree” and “strongly disagree.”
Relative to the 2014 survey, a higher percentage of customers said EXIM Bank helped them expand exports, had a positive impact on employment and that they would not have realized as many export opportunities without EXIM Bank.
Ease of Doing Business with EXIM Bank
EXIM Bank has a strategic goal to continuously improve the ease of doing business for customers. Seven survey items assessed respondents’ perceptions related to the ease of doing business with EXIM. All indicators showed improvement between 2014 and 2015, and five of the seven were significant, including:
- Written communications were clear and understandable
- Transaction processing time met my expectations
- Required documentation for the application met my expectations
- I received regular status updates
- Cost of insurance was reasonable
Overall Customer Satisfaction
Overall satisfaction with EXIM Bank has improved significantly, including a higher percentage of customers reporting they would recommend EXIM Bank to another exporter. In the words of our customers:
- “I have been exporting for many years, but have avoided certain prospects because of inability to risk my capital. EXIM provides me with a tool to let me grow my export business and compete with many other countries selling into my market.”
- "We would not have exported offering customers terms without EXIM. It has been great to work with and is affordable. When I started looking into credit insurance, the private companies said we were too small, so EXIM has been great for us."
- “I think more exporters in the food and agribusiness industries need to know about and use EXIM. Our relationship with EXIM has been beneficial. We appreciate the support, which allows us to do export sales with a minimal risk."
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