Vulnerable customers – an agent’s view (Part 2)

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Capita Customer Management 23rd August 2017 3 minute read

Vulnerable customers – an agent’s view (Part 2)

In our August 2017 edition of Intelligence, three Capita agents consider the issues around vulnerable customers from the other side of the phone. Leanne Squires leads the Customer Experience Team for Capita’s Zurich operation, playing an essential role in ensuring everyone is trained on the constantly changing rules around vulnerable customers in the financial sector. Here, she gives us her thoughts on the subject.

There are several challenges to consider when dealing with vulnerable customers. The first is identifying the vulnerability – is someone just angry, or is it a sign of an underlying issue? Just because someone is elderly should we assume they’ll struggle to understand?  Is it a bad line or does the person having hearing difficulties? Each case presents itself in a different way and vulnerability is a subjective decision.

Ultimately it’s down to the call handler and their experience to decide if someone is vulnerable. In our area we require all vulnerable customer cases to be referred to our Vulnerable Customer Champions, who will then ensure we’ve done everything we can to support them. The agent should steer their way around vulnerabilities by treating each call on its own merits and assessing the best way forward for each set of circumstances.

In the financial sector, cost effective advice is probably where there is the greatest need – not just for pensions and life cover, but also ensuring vulnerable people have proper financial support.

Advice is expensive and many vulnerable people don’t have clarity on where or who to go to. Many vulnerable customers are relying on family members to deal with their financial matters. They may be trying hard to help but are not really qualified to give the support needed, and they may not always be acting in the vulnerable person’s best interests.

Coaching becomes essential with staff, with open questions around what can be done differently, how they’d handle a case if they came across it again etc., along with role-play for handling difficult and vulnerable callers. It needs to be done in different formats from feedback on call handling or complaints that have been received, to listening to calls away from the call centre environment and pausing and discussing. This also enables us to train and teach how to identify less obvious vulnerabilities.

We also work very closely with our client and share cases to understand how we can continue to improve our service for vulnerable customers moving forward.

Are vulnerable customers an increasing concern? I think it’s a concern right now and something we’ll need to continue to be aware of. As more white papers are released suggesting how financial institutions deal with vulnerable customers, we’ll continue to review and ensure, wherever possible, our processes are adjusted to suit.

To read the full interview with Leanne and learn more about supporting vulnerable customers in a regulated environment, check out the August 2017 edition of Intelligence - find it on our Intelligence report hub.

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