Hello and welcome to the next in our series of videos on governance and conduct. I am here today with John Coley to talk about how firms can treat vulnerable customers more effectively. John, I suppose a good place to start is what is a vulnerable customer?
That's a fundamental starting point of how you approach this issue. So, firms need to have a consistent understanding of what is and isn't a vulnerable customer and what characteristics could or couldn't apply? And that's really important so there's a consistent understanding of how to deal with customers and how to spot particular circumstances that could create harm or give customers poor outcomes at the end of the day. What's also really important within this is that firms consider vulnerable customers right through their product governance process which means that customers are properly considered throughout the lifecycle, so when products are designed, when they're approved and also when they're rolled out, customers are actually considered throughout that process.
And how do we actually as firms operate that within the business?
There are probably two things I would highlight. So the first thing is that firms have a good single customer view across the piece. Now what I mean by that is that as a customer I might have a loan product, I might also have a savings product and if I have a conversation with a representative about a vulnerable customer circumstance I have, do all relevant parts of the business know about that and do they have a consistent understanding so that I get the right customer experience?
The second thing I would highlight is that the use of technology is really really important and will always get more so as the process goes forward so for example, using technology to spot signs of stress in customers, are they asking for repetition about a product that we might think is quite straightforward and using things like voice analytics in the process will help firms proactively spot issues rather than dealing with them after the event and in my view that could only be a good thing.
How does all of this link to the culture of the business and this is something that is really top of the regulators' agenda at the moment.
Yes, it's fundamental, so culture is absolutely something that regulators across the world are very very focused on and it's really important that firms can evidence how they learn and how they improve their processes over time so from a vulnerable customer standpoint, making sure that you incorporate feedback, learnings, customer complaint outcomes, continuously into the process will improve you as a business, it will improve your commercial performance and critically of course the outcomes customers receive. The thing I sort of end on I guess is that it's a real truth that if you get this right it can only be a good advert for your business.