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Only 4% contact centre staff claim they always know when they are speaking with a vulnerable person.*


Almost every company or organisation will have conversations with customers or supporters who find it difficult to make an informed decision about the choices offered to them when buying products or services or making a donation. The difficulty arises as those customers are in a vulnerable circumstance that may be permanent, temporary or transitory and dirsupts the way in which the decision is usually made. The customer may need additional information or support or a different procedure to allow them to complete their decision making. The conversations may take place via a variety of communication channels from the telephone, through email and post to live chat and SMS. Doing the right thing for your customers or supporter means giving vulnerable customers proper consideration.

Your organisation may need to communicate with consumers:

• who have language or communication needs
• who have a chronic illness or condition
• who have mental health or neurological conditions
• who are going through difficult life events that affect their decision-making capability or cause stress or anxiety
• who may not recognise themselves as being in a vulnerable circumstance

Vulnerability is a sensitive topic and when the DMA surveyed contact centre staff across a range of companies and organisations in 2014, only 4% of contact centre staff believed they always know when they are speaking to a vulnerable person. As a result they believed they were not serving customer needs well or appropriately.

Having co-authored the DMA’s Vulnerable Consumer training materials, Elaine Lee, our managing director, is now running Train The Trainer workshops, providing practical insight and examples of how to train your customer facing staff. Learn how to train your staff - help them identify and better serve consumers in vulnerable circumstances. Responsible marketers know how to recognise and respect vulnerable people and continue to service their needs for products, services and to make charitable donations. Excluding these customers is not an option, exclusion breaches the Equality Act and potentially isolate and make the vulnerable circumstance worse. Learn how your organisation can recognise and respect the needs of these customers and how and to share the information with your staff at these special sessions run by Elaine.

At the end of these training workshops you will:

• Better understand the term ‘vulnerability’
• Understand alternatives to the concept of vulnerability
• Appreciate that vulnerability is complex and changeable
• Have tools to help you recognise vulnerability
• Develop methods to help deal with vulnerability
• Increase confidence and sensitivity towards vulnerability
• Know more about essential facets of sensitive service
• Become a champion for vulnerability in your organisation
• Tackle real-life scenarios to understand how you can improve the service you deliver

Contact Elaine Lee, Managing Director, to discuss the workshops in more detail: elaine@reynoldsbusbylee.com

* Source: DMA survey, 2016
** Source: IOF Nov 216, Treating Donors Faily Guide; FairMoney, 2017, SEE ARTICLE HERE
*** Source: Cancer Research UK, Cancer statistics for the UK, Accessed May 2017, SEE ARTICLE HERE


The workshop massively resonated with me and it's an area that I've grown increasingly passionate about over a number of years. The training itself added substance and credibility to areas I've focused on in my current role and previous roles, and it's really given me a boost of energy to make sure we apply and embed many of the themes covered during the session. The workshop itself was an effective blend of theoretical and practical approaches, all of which were relevant and applicable, and all of which I've applied to my ongoing training here. I've also mapped out the next 12 months of our Vulnerable Customer strategy and linked up with the charity team here to mesh together some of the planned projects in 2018, such as working with a local food bank and a homeless charity

Attended DMA Vulnerable Customer Workshop November '17

We used ReynoldsBusbyLee & KMB to deliver Vulnerable People training to a range of our staff who work on the phone and in person with people who might be in vulnerable circumstances. This large cross-team group benefitted hugely from the day, sharing their experiences and gaining valuable tips about how to help, and how to help themselves, too.

Fiona Magor, Rethink

This training will definitely have an impact at our workplace. As a team we are all more aware of policies and circumstances from attending this training. We are able to listen to calls from agencies and watch mystery shop videos and spot situations that we may not have before.

Katy Reid, LEPRA

This training will help tailor our own training materials and the delivery of sessions to staff so they feel confident in managing difficult scenarios and have an effective support network.

Claire Robson, GOSH

This training will be helpful in revising our Vulnerable Person policy. It gave me new things to consider. As a result of the training I will aim to promote more consistency in our approach across our organisation and review the guidelines we give to agencies.

Holly Mackay, CATS Protection

This training will inform how we train our staff, inform our management and update our trustees. It will able me to give clearer guidelines for supporter care staff in relation to taking calls and recording data.

Vickie Gregory, WCRF