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EQ’S Vulnerability Initiatives For Scheme Members

Accessible Services For All: EQ’s Vulnerability Initiatives For Scheme Members

Thursday, 7 April 2022

An increasingly vulnerable society

The FCA has seen a 15% increase in those deemed ‘vulnerable’. There are now almost 28 million vulnerable adults in the UK. To support our clients, their members and annuitants we have been focusing on creating accessible services for all.

How we’re supporting you, your members and annuitants

At Equiniti (EQ), our mission is to care for every customer, and we aim to simplify each transaction.

EQ supports over 13 million members and annuitants across our pension platforms, with a rising number of those potentially vulnerable. Vulnerability can present in various ways, and understanding this is an important and sensitive matter. 

Identifying vulnerability through training

In 2021, as part of a company-wide initiative to support members and annuitants, EQ’s training academy delivered four vulnerable customer courses to over 600 staff. These covered:

  • Bereavement
  • Financial Capability & Resilience
  • Long-Term or Serious Illness
  • Vulnerable Customer – In Crisis (covering Self Harm and Suicide).

This training has helped customer-facing colleagues identify if the person they are assisting is vulnerable and provide the proper support accordingly. 

Technology to support vulnerability

In 2021, we updated our Compendia Touch software to record vulnerable customer needs, and how we are implementing this is unique. We will record the preferences of how a member wants to interact with us, not simply recording a sensitive vulnerability.

Our Customer Accessibility & Inclusion team closely reviews management information and keywords in recorded Customer Experience Centre calls with speech analytics technology. This ensures service levels meet the expectations of every member. 

Analytics can help us identify critical vulnerable customer characteristics such as stress and anxiety, over-indebtedness, feelings of exclusion, risk of scams, and abuse, which can lead to poor financial decisions.

 All-EQ vulnerability initiatives

We want to support all colleagues in understanding and having an awareness of vulnerability. Because of this, we have implemented several initiatives Group-wide. These include:

  • An online learning module for all colleagues to complete
  • A customer accessibility and inclusion hub on the intranet
  • Charity partnerships with Better with Money (financial education provider) and Plumm (online mental well-being services provider)
  • Partnership expansion with Dementia Friends - we now have over 700 colleagues trained as Dementia Friends 
  • Data-driven personas to inform the design of our customer experience service

In 2022 and beyond, we will be developing and launching:

  • An accessibility and awareness initiatives pack for all EQ colleagues to review
  • Our ‘Empathy Lab’ – a physical area in our Customer Experience Centre and a virtual online lab designed to simulate different vulnerabilities. This will help further develop our agents and ensure an even better member experience

Our focus in action

How have our vulnerability initiatives benefitted members and clients in the short term? Our two mini case studies below give some examples.

Vulnerable customer in crisis

A scheme member called EQ and wanted to put their finances in order to support their family if they were no longer around. Because of the training undertaken, the EQ colleague who took the call was able to identify vulnerability trigger words and took immediate action. Our colleague contacted the trainer, a qualified mental health first aider, and worked with our internal Customer Accessibility & Inclusion team. Together, they guided the Trustees, client manager, and operational staff members in dealing with the request appropriately and sensitively whilst ensuring our colleague was supported.

Caring for every customer 

A pension scheme member in receipt of an ‘injury on duty’ pension discovered that some of the benefits they should have been receiving had been incorrectly deducted from their pension over several years. This totalled a substantial sum of money. The member was not in good health and was now in financial difficulty.

EQ investigated the error and explained the process ahead. Our colleague managing the case recognised the member’s distress and vulnerability and contacted them daily to reassure them throughout the process. This was a sensitive case, and because of our vulnerability processes, we were able to quickly pay them the correction plus interest on the balance on behalf of our client.

There is always more to do. We will keep improving our experience to care for all members now and in the future.