Vulnerable customers – an agent’s view (Part 1)

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Capita Customer Management 17th August 2017 3 minute read

Vulnerable customers – an agent’s view (Part 1)

In our August edition of Intelligence, three Capita agents consider the issues around vulnerable customers from the other side of the phone. This week we’re sharing the thoughts of Tracey Lucas, who has worked as a customer service agent and Team Leader for one of our utilities clients.

The best advice I can give about working with vulnerable customers is to never assume. Most customers feel embarrassed to ask for help, or aren’t aware that it’s available, so don’t say anything. If we have a product and this customer is flagging up triggers such as difficulty paying, high consumption, or is concerned about how much they pay per month, then we should be asking questions to see if we can offer support.

I’ve worked on the phone lines as an inbound agent as well as on the escalations team, and sometimes customers just want someone to take a bit of time to listen and make them aware of what can be done to help them. It’s fair to say that usually the customers who shout the loudest are the ones in the most need of help.

When dealing with vulnerable customers, it’s vital not to rush them and to let them know that you have all the time they need to resolve their reason for calling.

I immediately put myself in their shoes – how would I feel if I was this caller and the customer service agent was rushing me and not explaining things clearly? I take my time, check throughout the call that they understand what I’m saying and whether they need me to explain anything before moving on.

I took a call a few months ago from a lady who was the same age as me and she had recently had a stroke. She wanted to pay her bill and struggled to read out the card details as she couldn’t remember how to say the number 6, but with patience and understanding we finally got through the call.

She was crying with frustration but I was determined to stick with it and help her (I was crying too by the end of the call). And she made the payment. It took her 50 minutes but she was so grateful that I’d given her the time to do something herself instead of relying on her husband to do it for her. She went on to say she had been a schoolteacher and now couldn’t even remember numbers. I have to say I ended the call in bits… but I was so pleased that I had enabled her to feel good about herself and face a massive challenge and achieve it.

To read Tracey’s full interview and learn more about supporting vulnerable customers, check out the August 2017 edition of Intelligence - find it on our Intelligence report hub.

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