There’s no doubt that digital has a lot to offer: consistency, transparency, ease of use, speed and anytime access. But if we’re not careful, that technology also risks alienating vulnerable customer groups, as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) points out:
“For the more vulnerable and, in particular, those who feel less comfortable with technology, the increasing reliance on digital technology can add problems. Many expressed feelings of frustration and confusion that they couldn’t access their information and were angry that they were continually told to ‘go online’ by everyone they interacted with.”
So, before we look at ways to leverage technology for the tech-savvy without ignoring the traditional needs of loyal more vulnerable customers, let’s explore what the FCA means by vulnerable customers. According to the FCA:
“A vulnerable consumer is someone who, due to their personal circumstances, is especially susceptible to detriment, particularly when a firm is not acting with appropriate levels of care.”
Making your digital services accessible to more customers doesn’t mean you need to change your overall customer journey. I’ve put together some top tips to help you make sure you’re not excluding any of those more vulnerable customer groups:
Make your digital customer journey friendly – for everybody
When you’re designing your digital customer journey, consider customers with visual, hearing, motor and cognitive impairments. Select fonts that are clear. Don’t rely on colour alone to convey meaning. Provide alternative text for images. Provide captions for voice.
And make it clear where the journey is leading – particularly when the user is applying for a digital finance product. Customers need to fully understand what they’re signing up for before they submit any form, request or application.
Offer real world alternatives
Digital is not for everyone, so offer your customers other ways to access your digital services. A few subtle changes will make all the difference.
Add a contact phone number for anyone who prefers to talk rather than type. And allow those who prefer the personal touch to arrange a face-to-face meeting in the branch.
Some people find it difficult – or simply don’t like – to read large amounts of information on a screen, so ensure all important information can be printed.
Offer help along their journey
Born into a digital world, the younger generation seem to be able to find their way round a smartphone, app and website with natural ease.
But that’s not the case for all your customers. Offer them sufficient assistance along each digital journey. Allow them to ask questions along the way with live chat or even on the phone.
Or even help them accelerate their digital know-how with demonstrations or videos in the branch.
Allow sufficient time
In the pre-digital world, forms along with relevant information would arrive in the post. We’d sit and read through at our leisure; filling them in once we felt comfortable.
Many customers still need time to digest information or to gather any additional information required. Allow users to print off forms and email relevant information to themselves and so they can digest what’s required at their leisure.
Then, once they’re progressing along their digital journey, allow them to save what they’ve done so far and pick up from where they left off at a later date.
Do more than just tick the box
At the end of the day, you could – as a bare minimum – simply focus on complying with regulatory requirements on accessibility.
But your customers deserve more than that. Show you really understand them and their needs by offering that little bit more. After all, sometimes little things can make a big difference.
Digital may be becoming a bigger part of our lives, but it’s not for everyone. Are you considering all your customers when you design your digital journeys?