Understanding Vulnerable Customers
Vulnerable Customers can include individuals experiencing:
And then there are those who don’t realise they’re vulnerable
The many, not the few . . .
Almost every organisation will have customers who, at times, find it harder than usual to make informed decisions about the choices offered to them, due to their circumstances. Challenging personal situations may be unexpected, short-term or long-lasting; either way, they may affect your customers' ability to interact with your business and will need to be considered so you can better support the customers' needs.
For example, a vulnerable customer may need different information, support or interaction to help them make a decision or purchase. Adjustments may need to be made across all your communications channels: from phone calls to email and snail mail, to live chats, SMS and even face-to-face encounters.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic it was estimated that approximately 50% of UK adults were displaying characteristics associated with a vulnerable circumstances, however, the FCA reported that the pandemic (2020-21) has had a "profound and harrowing" impact on the financial resilience of people in the UK with numbers surging 15% year on year. The effects of the pandemic are expected to be with us for a number of years.
Handling contacts with customers in vulnerable circumstances is not something to be shied away from, but often front-line, customer facing, staff lack confidence and are scared of making mistakes. It's also essential to consider the impact of the pandemic on staff, who are either working from home or working in newly socially distanced workplaces. Having the confidence to identify and interact with vulnerable customers offering them guidance on how to access support from your own services and those available externally can build not only revenues and brand advocacy, but also staff satisfaction and retention rate, lower complaints and your costs. With training, coaching and support, your staff can better support your customers. What’s not to like?!
"Vulnerable customers are not bad customers. They're just people who have fallen into a difficult situation who are facing challenges and need support." Leonora Miles, Financial Services Policy Adviser, Macmillan Cancer Support