Assessing and adapting to customer needs
How do you know that you’re meeting the legal and moral requirements for supporting vulnerable customers? With a wealth of data and inputs at their fingertips, most companies still struggle to define what success and progress look like. With the Consumer Duty on the horizon for FS firms, it is even more important to evidence the actions taken to put the customer at the heart of all decision-making.
Some set up working groups to review customer journeys, touch points and communications to evaluate effectiveness at each step. This can be hugely valuable to identify points of weakness and opportunities for improvement without revising the whole process. It also pinpoints areas for improvement that could be applied and prioritised more widely in the organisation, such as simplifying the language used in customer communications.
This is not a one-and-done approach. While companies have multiple customer journeys for the groups to consider, they will always be a work in progress as customer needs, supporting technologies, and company priorities and services change. They should always be under review for areas of improvement from both the business and customer perspectives.
Identifying and acting on certain triggers are important for a proactive approach to customer service and can go a long way in preventing future customer harm. If payments are missed or vital communications go unanswered, these can be indicators to reach out to the customer in different, supportive ways. A key culture shift since the start of the pandemic has been this proactive, person-to-person interaction between businesses and their customers, turning what may previously have been an adversarial conversation into something far more understanding and positive.
An outside view is also valuable, whether this is a facilitator for the working and customer focus groups, business consultants, consumer champions, or industry experts. Companies are often hampered by their internal viewpoint and, similar to utilising the view of new starters, third parties can add value with a different take on processes or communications strategies. For example, adjusting the reading age score to a lower level on the Flesch-Kincaid scale can have huge benefits. However, a balance needs to be sought so that the level is not lowered too much that it affects the core concepts you need to explain.
At the core of it all are your customers and your knowledge of them and their varieties as well as their vulnerabilities. Creating a one size fits all approach to customer service has been consigned to history by most businesses in 2023. As firms have a greater understanding of different customer needs and the technical capabilities and processes required to meet those needs, the scope for variety in communications, tone of voice, messaging, and content has increased. Firms are now better able to adapt to meet customer requirements and deal with customers on a level that suits them.