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28 September 2018 3 min read

Reflections from our vulnerable customer roundtable with Andrea Coscelli, CEO of the CMA

Caitlin Jones

Caitlin Jones
Senior Manager | Customer and digital | London

Elliot Johnstone

Elliot Johnstone
Manager | Customer and digital | London

On 25th September we hosted a vulnerable customer roundtable, where we were joined by Andrea Coscelli, CEO of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), and a number of industry leaders from Financial Services, Energy and Utilities firms.

Andrea’s keynote gave us insight into how the CMA is working to understand the enduring problems that consumers with vulnerable characteristics face across markets. He noted that these consumers can find it more difficult to get a good deal, often because they don’t have resources and/or time to negotiate a better outcome for themselves (see the full speech here)

After the speech, we held discussions on the challenges in supporting vulnerable customers, opportunities to improve, and success stories and innovation. We will continue to share the information gathered in the future, but here are our key takeaways:

  • Defining vulnerability is important but difficult. You need a definition that is wide enough to be inclusive, but not so wide that it is meaningless. It needs context and flexibility for circumstantial differences  
  • Vulnerability needs to be more than just a label. It’s about responding to customer needs and following this through to a fair outcome. How can we encourage customers to disclose this information in the first place?
  • There are additional challenges in a B2B environment. You need to define what vulnerable looks like for a business, and in the B2B2C space, work with your intermediaries to support vulnerable customers.  
  • You need the right internal structure. In some circumstances, a dedicated team can be key to driving good outcomes for vulnerable customers. In others, a bad indicator of maturity in identifying, engaging and serving vulnerable customers.
  • Proactivity could be key. Should we be encouraging customers to plan for future vulnerabilities, such as naming a trusted contact who can do certain tasks without the formality of Power of Attorney? Where does proactivity become intrusive or daunting?
  • Finally, there are some amazing wow moments and innovations happening across industries. There were lots of opportunities for firms to share these and learn from each other during our discussions. Many companies are beginning to use bots or digital KYC journeys support vulnerable customers.

We’d welcome the opportunity to discuss this topic further and are looking forward to providing more detailed insights over the coming months.