PART OF OUR WITHOUT BOUNDARIES SERIES | 7 FEBRUARY 2022
How To Empower Colleagues To Support Consumers
In this article, Louise Kirkwood, Head of Customer Insight and one of our vulnerable customer leads, looks at the practical steps regulated businesses can take to empower their colleagues to deliver positive customer outcomes.
Variety brings complexity
With companies facing ever-increasing numbers of vocal and vulnerable consumers, getting the processes and support in place to enable your business and staff to deliver excellent service to all, is a key challenge.
Inevitably, it is often those on the front line of the business in customer service who shape a company’s response and tone. Whether on the phone to customers directly, developing and sending communications and information, or devising the best approach to automation and using technology. There is always a desire to help but with the multiplicity of channels, your core message may be distorted or even lost.
What can you do if your approach isn’t working?
Knowing me, knowing you…
One answer to this is for businesses to gain a deep understanding of the wants and needs of their customers. Most importantly there is the ongoing question of trust between the business and consumer.
If consumers feel that their circumstances will be held against them, for instance by their bank, they will be less likely to be honest. Independent industry advice from organisations like Citizen’s Advice, StepChange, and the Money Advice Service, all recommend flagging up any problems with providers as soon as possible so that they can start to help.
The effectiveness of communication channels and processes is fundamental, as is the relationship that forms between your customers and colleagues. It is critical for businesses and colleagues to be ready for when customers reach out in this way.
Listen to our podcast about vulnerability and the changing needs of both customers and staff as a result of the pandemic.
At EQ, both within our clients’ organisations and within EQ, we see many examples of colleagues going above and beyond pure requirements to support customers. As part of our Without Boundaries series, we’ve grouped these into three processes and ways of working. They all all start with empowered colleagues:
1. Understand your customers
What do your colleagues need to know about your customers to give them the best service? How do you engage customers so they volunteer information in a GDPR compliant way?
Actions for your team might include getting the right data capture tools in place or honing analytics skills to really understand how customers engage with you.
This goes beyond colleagues taking the time to listen on calls/webchats, and actively asking for feedback. It's also about colleagues taking ownership and turning information into action to improve the customer experience.
2. Be proactive in engaging customers
No matter how confident some consumers are becoming, many still struggle to openly engage with financial services providers; particularly those in vulnerable circumstances.
With your colleagues, find the easiest ways possible for customers to reach out. It should be through the channels of their choice. Or, simply, reach out to them.
3. Sense check all communications
What makes perfect sense to you may be lost completely on your customers. For example, not everyone understands percentages, but they are routinely used.
Financial services firms can provide high value product offerings. But if customers are turned off by jargon and complicated explanations, the value of building the product is wasted.
By proactively asking for feedback from your empowered consumers, and keeping on top of any complaints trends that may related back product communications, companies can speak confidently with customers in ways that are clear and well-understood.
In a related article, also part of the Without Boundaries series, EQ’s CRO Adam Green dives deep into the challenges of supporting consumers.
Want to empower all customers and colleagues? See how in our film:
EQ Care at Scale
In the age of the empowered consumer, you need to look after all your customers. From the vocal to the vulnerable, each customer has unique needs. EQ are well placed to help you care at scale; we deliver critical financial services to over 36m consumers around the world.
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