• Almost every organisation will have customers who find it hard to make informed decisions about the choices offered to them

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

The scale of vulnerability within the UK and your customer base, should not be underestimated . . .

The Financial Conduct Authority reported that more than half of the UK adult population (27.7m UK adults) displayed one or more characteristics of vulnerability* in October 2020. This is an increase of 15% from 24.1 million in February 2020.*

*Source Financial Lives Survey 2020, FCA

“In total we’ve run 7 sessions all over the country and trained almost 90 staff. The feedback has been excellent with all managers saying how easy it was to roll out, using your notes and slides, and the Telephone Fundraisers have commented on how much they’ve enjoyed the sessions and how well they’ve been able to pick it up and understand it. So, a big thanks from us!"
Catherine Lloyd, RNIB

“We used Reynolds Busby Lee & 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 Mental Illness

“"It was a pleasure to work with Elaine and Jacqui from the first phone call. I was so impressed with the time they gave to ensure the course was completely in keeping with our objectives while guiding us on other areas we could explore. It is clear that they are both passionate for positive change regarding the treatment of vulnerable customers. We received fantastic feedback on this training and I would have no hesitation in recommending Elaine and Jacqui if you are looking for a really effective, practical programme.”
Mairead Sheahan, Learning & Development Manager, Cynergy Bank

“Being in a financial difficulties team, this is something I do and will experience all the time, so being able to literally experience how some vulnerable customers live has definitely benefited me."
Olivia Edmonds, American Express

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