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Always caring for the vulnerable.

Around 18 months ago I wrote about monitoring the most vulnerable in society and the 6 straight-forward steps any contact centre can take to protect them.

It was a blog that was very well-received and stimulated a few discussions about what practical interventions a Contact Centre can use to help people who need the greatest support.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have since updated their guidance on “Treating vulnerable customers fairly” (FCA June 22)

This update focuses on “examples of firms taking positive action to meet vulnerable customer needs” and, crucially at this point, how firms support their customers who are affected by the current cost of living crisis.

It is worth reflecting on some of these worrying statistics that we see on the news each evening:

“Borrowers with variable rate mortgages may struggle to afford increased payments and those with fixed rate deals that are coming to an end may find it harder to find a comparable deal. Consumers’ household income may also face pressure from other types of borrowing such as personal loans, credit cards and, increasingly, exempt buy-now-pay-later or other forms of credit as well as utility, fuel, council tax and other bills.”

It is fair to say that, over the last 18 months, things have gone from bad to worse.

What is essential, from my view, is the need for complete, objective analysis of customer vulnerability. This isn’t just about saving millions of pounds in fines, but providing front-line staff the visibility and guidance they need to effectively respond to a range of types of vulnerability.

Remember, most consumers are unwilling to admit or are even unaware that they are vulnerable

If you look at a leading product, like NICE Enlighten A.I, you have software that doesn’t just protect staff and those most vulnerable, but delivers exceptional customer service at a time of great need.

The FCA defines a vulnerable customer as anyone who is susceptible to harm due to personal circumstances and contact centres rely on their agents to identify these vulnerable customers

Using Enlighten AI, it is now possible to objectively and accurately identify these customers on every voice and digital interaction, right out-of-the-box.

Pre-built compliance and agent AI behaviour models that are derived from large interaction data sets make it easy to ensure FCA compliance.

In a recent conversation with one of my customers, they admitted that in excess of 60% of their client base has shown one, or more, of these vulnerabilites. And that is not the whole picture. With NICE Enlighten AI we are going to dig deeper, find and accurately assess even more interactions to allow them to support clients and their agents.

Enlighten AI’s pre-built dashboards for Customer Service Centre supervisors provide immediate visibility into who has the highest – or the lowest – vulnerable customer compliance score and which advisor behaviours need evaluation and coaching. It really is cutting-edge software and can hugely improve agents performance through targeted supervisor coaching.

So I would like to offer any organisation, with FCA oversight or otherwise, a free consultation on their preparedness to support vulnerable customers. It is clear that we have not yet done enough to satisfy the government and, crucially, as the cost of living crisis deepens, as humans we must do more to care for those in need.

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