Understanding and meeting the diverse needs of vulnerable customers can feel overwhelming, but many organisations have made it a priority. In this article, I want to share some good news relating to support for those in vulnerable situations.
Initiatives that Benefit Firms & Customers
It is a joy to be working with organisations across the UK who want to equip their teams with the knowledge and resources to support vulnerable customers. I am aware of considerable progress across many industries and have seen the benefits to the firms and their customers. A growing number of initiatives have been introduced and companies are being recognised for their achievements.
Effective Vulnerability Strategy Award for The Phoenix Group
One of the businesses that I have the pleasure of working with is The Phoenix Group. As the owners of Standard Life, they are the UK's largest long-term savings and retirement business. The scale of the business has not prevented them from focusing on personalised customer service.
Riffat Tufail, Vulnerability Lead at The Phoenix Group has been pivotal in driving the firm towards financial inclusion. She is focused on measures that empower and support vulnerable customers to gain financial understanding and confidence.
At the 2022 CCA Global Excellence Awards on 27 April, Riffat accepted the award for the ‘Most Effective Vulnerability Strategy’ on behalf of The Phoenix Group. I am delighted that a company which strives to deliver customer service excellence for all has been recognised.
LV Help 300 Customers to Retain Cover
LV insurance is another of my customers that are committed to making a difference to vulnerable customers. In 2020, they provided a payment break option for customers who were experiencing financial difficulties during the pandemic.
This was intended to be a short-term measure, but listening to customers, they decided to continue offering the service in 2022. 93% of take-up has been from self-employed customers with irregular income. They can apply for up to 3 payment breaks in a year to retain cover during tighter months.
Before granting approval, the team speak with the individual to better understand their situation. They can then signpost the customer to resources and sources of support that build financial resilience.
This is just one of many initiatives that have contributed to LV receiving the 2022 Go Compare People’s Choice Award for Life Insurance.
Switchee; Lowering Costs & Increasing Safety
The London Energy Efficiency Awards were held in March. This event is designed for companies operating in the energy market and includes a Vulnerable Customer Support category. Nominees must be actively engaged in tackling the issue of fuel poverty in the UK. The judges take into account the nature, scale and scope of initiatives that support vulnerable customers and the impact.
The Riverside Group received the Vulnerable Customer Support Organisation of the Year Award for their product, Switchee. Designed for housing associations, this device (along with team support) is helping to improve energy services to tenants. It aims to save money on energy bills, enhance gas safety and identify cases of fuel poverty. Switchee has been adopted by housing associations across the country.
Just Group Vulnerable Customer Awards
Financial intermediary firms still have time to enter the Just Group Vulnerable Customer Awards 2022. The deadline for entries is on Friday 22 July.
The winners of the 2021 awards, announced in September were:
· Vulnerable Customer Champion - Kathryn Knowles from Cura Financial Services
· Company of the Year – Mazars Financial Planning
· Up Close & Personal – Richstone Park Financial Planning
· Data & Tech – Air Group
I was fascinated to read about the many different ways in which these winners are transforming services for vulnerable customers. If you are ready to be inspired, read more about what specifically impressed the judges here: https://www.justadviser.com/globalassets/just-adviser/documents/jm-00963-best-in-class-showcase-report.pdf
I know of many other organisations that have invested in vulnerable customer training, policies and processes that make a difference. I will feature more of them in the next ‘good news’ article.