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Posted on 31 May 2017 by

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Some customers find it difficult when dealing with call centres. They often struggle to make an informed decision based on what’s being offered to them; being offered something you weren’t expecting can be stressful, even if you are familiar with the brand or requested the contact yourself.

As a company, you want to promote your product, and the customer wants to benefit from what you have to offer. So, it’s very important that vulnerable customers are not isolated or exploited.

In situations like these, the most important element is the agent knowing how to deal with the customer in a calm, open manner. Something that is easier said than done…

 

So we’ve put together our THREE GOLDEN RULES for identifying and handling vulnerable customers!

 

  1. Identify

Agents need to know what defines a vulnerable customer. With training and experience, most agents are able to identify a vulnerable customer before they try to make a sale, but for new agents this could prove to be difficult. People affected by the following could be considered as vulnerable:

 

-          Non-English speakers

-          Mental health issues

-          Recently bereaved

-          Suffering from a serious illness

-          The Elderly

Sometimes customers will tell the agent outright if they are vulnerable. Other useful signs might be:

  • Coming across as lonely and wanting an opportunity to chat to someone.
  • Not understanding what you are selling but continuing with the call anyway.
  • Having trouble understanding who the call is from or why you have their number.
  • Inaudible or having trouble making themselves heard over the phone.
  • Becoming audibly distressed or panicked by an unexpected call.
  • Answering questions inappropriately or with simple “Yes or No” responses.
  • Having trouble recalling their own personal information (Address, Card Details, Telephone Number)

It is so important that your sales representatives are able to make moral decisions on their own and have the support of their superiors when they are not comfortable proceeding with a sale.

 

  1. Sensitivity

If a customer’s intent to buy is deemed legitimate, it’s important that the agent approaches the situation with sensitivity and caution. The agent needs to explain exactly what your product is and ensure the customer is actively listening. Asking the customer to explain what they believe they are purchasing and for how much is a useful method for identifying confusion; but discretion and respect when doing so is vital. Vulnerable customers might sound as if they understand everything but it pays if the agent engages with the customer throughout the call, frequently asking the customer questions. Taking a little extra time to explain the commitment a vulnerable customer is making will pay off in the long run.

 

 

  1. Recordings

It’s always good for the manager to keep a record of the sale to ensure that everyone knows exactly what transpired on call. Of course, you’d want to retrain all call recordings, but it might be worth noting down the call number to easily locate a vulnerable customer if needed. A customer’s impression of your company is extremely valuable, as is your own ability to defend the actions of your sales team, or indeed hold to account any unscrupulous behaviour within your team. Advise your sales team to report any potentially vulnerable customers so the transaction can be closely monitored and any further contact can be dealt with carefully and supported by the complete picture.

 

Remember, your reputation can be shattered by a single accusation of ‘exploitation’ if a vulnerable person shares a negative experience with traditional media, or even on social media. At the very least, the sales representative could find their position threatened.

How we do it

At RSVP, we are always bettering our identification and treatment of vulnerable customers, and training is given to make sure that each and every member of our team understands their responsibility to act lawfully and morally when selling to vulnerable people. Those rare few who act outside of our guidelines are no longer welcome at RSVP, but thankfully, we have a dedicated team of honest folk who put the welfare of vulnerable customers above their own objectives, realising that our reputation and the reputation of our clients is far more important than any one sale.

 

We have the privilege of approaching sales in a far more neighbourly, conversational way – focusing first on building our own reputation and affinity with customers. We rely on the outstanding skills of actors and performers to ingratiate themselves with our customers - cultivating trust and rapport - before we approach a sale. We find that, above all else, it is this personal touch that allows us to make well-informed decisions on the vulnerability of customers, and sets our practice apart from our competitors.