Mental Health Awareness week: Supporting vulnerable customers

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Capita Customer Management 17th May 2019 4 minute read

Mental Health Awareness Week: Supporting vulnerable customers

Monday 13th to Sunday 19th May is Mental Health Awareness Week. As the UK’s largest customer service provider, we have to consider not only the mental well-being of our colleagues but also that of our customers. We are committed to ensuring that vulnerable customers are dealt with fairly, sensitively and supportively. Today, we take a look at a recent training pilot designed to help our agents support customers in difficult circumstances.

Dealing with customers in vulnerable circumstances is a highly complex issue. From discerning that a customer may have problems that they are not prepared to admit or address, through to the emotional drain of assisting someone in the direst of circumstances, it’s one of the toughest challenges front-line customer service agents have to face. Recognising this, Capita Customer Management recently worked with Knowledgepool to develop an agent training module that was piloted by colleagues working on behalf of one of our clients, a major betting and gambling company.

The training isn’t solely designed to help vulnerable customers – it’s also about helping our agents develop their resilience and emotional capacity to handle calls that can at times be distressing. Steven Hutcheon, a team manager on the account in question, underwent the training module and found it provided a real necessary help.

“Being a team manager for a client in the betting industry, I often deal with customers who have spent more than they can afford,” Steven explains. “Thanks to the training I learned that there are a number of resources we can use to help vulnerable customers as well as colleagues who are in a similar position. The course also flags up some situations that we may not automatically consider to be ‘vulnerable’. Now I consider each customer’s situation on its own merits and am able to have a more human conversation to see if there’s a way to help the customer by doing something different.”

Steven also shared a real-life example of a customer who was in a desperate situation. “I took an escalated call from a customer who had spent a large sum of money on the online games section of our website. He felt that his life had been ruined and just didn’t know what to do anymore. He felt like it was pointless to carry on.

“Recognising that the customer was in dire need of help, I self-excluded his account, enquired whether he now had debt issues, and provided him with contact details for StepChange, a debt counselling service. I found the customer’s entire demeanour changed when he realised that there was someone to turn to.

“I also asked if he had issues with gambling in shops as well. When he indicated that he did, I transferred him to the Multi-Operator Self-Exclusion service, rather than just providing him with the contact details as is procedure.

“I now know that we have the opportunity to really go the extra mile – we have to take a chance to truly help a customer when they need it most.”

Vulnerability should not be a stigma – there should be no barrier to a customer seeking the help they need. With training schemes such as this one we can take a step further towards ensuring that our colleagues are equipped to provide appropriate responses, and that customers feel supported when they interact with us, regardless of their personal circumstances. 

 Find out more about the Green Ribbon campaign and help to #endthestigma around mental health.


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