We know that customers are at the heart of every business. We understand that we should endeavour to provide a positive experience for all, but how do you serve vulnerable customers?
Can your team confidently communicate with someone with dementia? What happens if they talk to someone who shows visible signs of being upset? How do they check that information shared has been taken on board?
Who are your Vulnerable Customers?
The first point could be to identify which of your customers are vulnerable. If you are aware, it is possible to give certain people more of your time, a clearer explanation or some practical support.
The Financial Conduct Authority has been exploring customer service for vulnerable people since 2015. Earlier this year, they stated that their research identified that, at any one time, up to 50% of customers could be described as vulnerable.
“Vulnerability can come in a range of guises, and can be temporary, sporadic or permanent in nature.” – FCA
To explain this, consider yourself as the customer. On most days you can ask questions, comprehend information, make decisions, clarify points, undertake tasks and get what you need.
What about the day when a close relative is admitted to hospital or redundancies have been announced at your company? Are you composed and focused after a run of sleepless nights or when someone has just hit your car at a junction?
It doesn’t take much for any of us to be distracted, overcome with emotion, and vulnerable. In those moments, you really appreciate it if customer service is delivered with kindness and patience.
Identifying Vulnerable Customers
If anyone of us could be considered vulnerable at some point in our lives, it isn’t easy to identify those customers who may need a little more assistance.
Body language, tone of voice and facial expressions all provide information about a person, but you need to be aware and attentive to pick up on these things. Does your customer service training cover these points?
If one of your team recognises that someone may need more assistance, can they respond, or are they working to a target? What impact will it have on other customers or colleagues if they spend longer with a customer? Strict company policy can prevent people from meeting the needs of all customers.
Customer Service Training
The FCA is not the only organisation to be highlighting the needs of vulnerable customers. In recent weeks, new guidelines have been applied for the pre-assessment of clients requesting cosmetic procedures in the beauty industry.
This is a subject that I am championing. Last year, I delivered Customer Service for Vulnerable People with a team from the Aylesbury branch of Metro Bank. They are keen to provide everyone with a positive and helpful service. Can I help you to do the same?
With increased awareness, supermarkets, solicitors, restaurants, retailers and councils can equip their employees with the skills to meet their customer’s needs. If you would like to find out more, please get in touch on 01296 596958 or firstname.lastname@example.org.