A Vulnerable Customer is someone who, due to their personal circumstances, is especially susceptible to detriment, particularly when an organisation is not acting with appropriate levels of care (FCA). When handling a claim that involves a vulnerable customer, it is important to take extra care, and where necessary, adapt standard processes in a way that accommodates the customer and their individual needs. There are 5 aspects that are essential to consider when assisting a vulnerable customer:
During initial contact with a customer, it is important to look out for any mention or indication of vulnerability or individual requirements, as well as asking whether there are any special circumstances surrounding the claim that you should be made aware of. Any indications identified should be noted clearly and in a sensitive manner so that members of the organisation involved with the claim can take into account the individual needs and requirements of the customer. Where possible, any relevant parties should be directly informed, so that accommodations can be made at every step in the process.
2. Communicate Appropriately
All communication should be clear and presented in a manner that is suitable for the customer's individual needs in order to ensure ease of understanding. If a customer is having trouble communicating via phone call, use alternative methods of communication that best suit their needs such as email, text or letters, or vice versa. Amend the formatting of written communication as appropriate, and adjust pace, volume and tone accordingly when speaking on the phone. When required, liaise with their other nominated contact points. It is important that the customer finds all communication accessible to ensure they are fully informed throughout the claim journey.
It is vital that the customer leaves each conversation with a full, detailed understanding of what has been discussed, and with their expectations managed with regards to what will happen next during their claim journey. Most customers will not be familiar with insurance 'jargon', and it is therefore important to explain each process in simple terms that can be easily comprehended by any individual, regardless of whether they have been through a claims process before. It is also beneficial to explain which member of your organisation will be handling the claim at each stage, and who the customer should contact if they have any concerns or queries.
Whilst relaying all relevant information to the customer is key, it is equally as important to take the time to listen to the customer, and engage on a more personal level where appropriate. The customer may be distressed and anxious, or may just want someone to talk to, but whatever the circumstance, taking the time to listen to what they have to say can contribute considerably to making the customer feel supported and at ease during what can be a very stressful time.
When talking to the customer, always ask if there are any accommodations that can be made to help support them through their claim journey, and ensure all members of the organisation are empowered to be flexible when it comes to accomodating individual needs and requirements. This could include flexibility in appointments, payment terms and methods, and communication forms - but essentially covers any way in which your organisation can be adaptable to ensure it is as easy as possible for the customer to manage their claim.