Members Only | 14/10/21

We all appreciate vulnerable customers in collections require help, but do our systems deliver that?

Vulnerable customers, particularly, need to feel like they can contact third parties to discuss their situation without judgment. Let’s face it, it’s often not easy for customers to pluck up the courage to get in touch but, when they do, they really want and need slick, frictionless processes. That’s why having customer centric systems for customers and colleagues to navigate, is critical to a successful customer journey.

One of the biggest frustrations customers quote in industry surveys is having to repeat themselves over and over again, so we all have a duty to limit that repetition. Gathering income and expenditure data is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to repetition. If a customer has multiple accounts with a supplier who doesn’t have a linked-up system, a customer will sadly go through the process of explaining everything again, not an ideal experience.

Next up is the customers’ ability to choose their channel. We know that a significant proportion of identified vulnerable customers choose to service their accounts digitally, so a key consideration is making sure your infrastructure is set up and maintained to enable all systems to ‘talk to each other’, giving customers access to the same information however they choose to get it.

The joined-up approach should also allow a customer to start a process on any given channel, whilst having the ability to transfer to an alternative channel, if they choose, and pick up where they left off – with no repetition.

Key to that approach though is ensuring your digital offering gives the customer the same functionality whether they call or webchat. Don’t direct them to “fill out a form” or “call to confirm” as that deviates from the customers chosen channel.

But what about when that customer has engaged? How do you make sure they feel like they’re in a safe environment, that they’ll understand what they’re being asked and will open up to ensure they’re not agreeing to anything they can’t maintain? It’s crucial to ensure that the right questions are asked, in the right tone and at the right time.

It’s common knowledge that vulnerable customers are more likely to agree to something without fully understanding what it means to them, so it’s important to ensure that you’re checking in with the customer throughout your engagement, to make sure they understand what is being asked of them, or what they’re agreeing to do.

We all need to probe more, gently of course, but make sure you’re understanding what might impact them. Have you understood their circumstances as well as you could? Have you prompted them to tell you more about their situation? Do they need more external independent advice? The more we encourage open dialogue the better the end-result will be. Financial difficulty for vulnerable customers is stressful enough as it is, so we have to be laser focussed on making it a frictionless process.