Customer service excellence may lie at the heart of your organisational culture. You are now aware of the specific need to treat vulnerable customers fairly, but where do you start?
Using the Financial Conduct Authority’s ‘Treating Vulnerable Customers Fairly’ guidance as the standard, this article explores the first steps towards good practice. This shares insight and resources to support your team to serve vulnerable customers with confidence and care.
How easy is it to do Business with your Organisation?
Your business may be fitted out with the latest kit, that fantastic new app is now live, and your team bring knowledge and experience to their role. You are future-ready, but is it easy for your customers to gather information, to make a purchase or to get in touch?
The majority of customers may be confident to adapt to new processes. They may understand the information you share, be digitally and financially savvy and love your fresh approach.
However, there will always be people who find it more of a challenge to engage with organisations. Unless their needs are considered and services adapted accordingly, they miss out. This not only cuts your potential sales; it can also heighten the difficulties that those individuals face. When it comes to essential services, failure to meet their needs can put them at risk of harm.
Guidance on the Fair Treatment of Vulnerable Customers
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) wants to improve the way that vulnerable customers are treated by banks, investors, insurance companies and other financial services. Their Guidance on the Fair Treatment of Vulnerable Customers is intended to lead to good practice. Fines are being issued to companies that fail to deliver the expected levels of service.
Reading the entire FCA Guidelines is quite a facing, so I have summarised the main points in this document: Reflections on the FCA Guidelines.
Before you think this doesn’t apply to your business, other industries are following suit. The principles of the FCA Guidelines are transferable to any organisation. In a year of extreme uncertainty, it is especially important to take action and make a positive difference. Let your brand stand out from the competition for all the right reasons.
Building on Good Customer Service
The good news is that no organisation will be starting from scratch. You may already provide staff training, have a customer service policy and provide resources to improve accessibility to services. Building on these foundations will help your team to improve services for vulnerable customers.
The aim is to consider vulnerable customers when delivering staff training, designing new products or services and preparing customer communications. To help you evaluate what you have in place, we have produced a Vulnerability Strategy Checklist.
This summarises the 6 core elements that need addressing and will help you to identify gaps:
Are your Services still Relevant to your Customers?
The events of 2020 have impacted on everyone. You may have had great insight into what your customers wanted from you at the start of the year, but is that information still relevant?
Retaining your reputation as a great company to do business with is dependent on understanding your customers. It is being knowledgeable about the customer journey and the points of interaction. It requires empathy for individuals who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to follow the standard processes that you have in place.
Do you need to kickstart this vulnerability process by asking for feedback? If you are open to learning from comments, compliments and complaints, your customers can help direct positive change.
Vulnerable Customer Training and Resources
It can feel like a burden to introduce any new policy when your business has already had a year of uncertainty and change.
As specialists in Vulnerable customer service, Helen Pettifer Training want to help. We can support your journey towards customer service excellence and FCA compliance.
We are working with leading insurance companies, energy firms and Councils to equip teams with the knowledge and resources to improve services. How can we help you?