At any point in their lives, our customers may find themselves financially vulnerable. This could be due to a significant event, loss of income, illness or other life challenges.
Our training programme is designed to help colleagues identify when a vulnerable customer is in need of support. We have also been working to make sure that we listen, learn and act on customer feedback. As a business, we have also partnered with external organisations to enhance these services – including Alzheimer Scotland, the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), BackUp and Samaritans. More than 14,500 colleagues also became Dementia Friends during 2018. We are also working closely with our products team to ensure our service is accessible. For example, our RNIB-accredited debit card has been specially designed to support our customers with visual impairments.
To support customers with additional needs, we have an interpretation service for those where English is not their first language and a video interpretation service for the 150,000 British Sign Language users in the UK.
More than 69,000 of our colleagues completed the Supporting Customers in Vulnerable Situations training programme during 2018.
Dealing with financial difficulties
We recognise that in times of financial difficulty our customers may find themselves in vulnerable circumstances and may require additional help and support.
In our Debt Management Operation we have 3 dedicated specialist support teams with experienced colleagues, who have received specific training from our external debt advice and charity partners, like Money Advice Trust, Samaritans who focus solely on supporting customers in vulnerable circumstances.
In 2018 these 3 teams have handled over 36,900 calls and provided much needed support and care to these customers.
We continue to work closely with the independent debt advice and charity partners and in 2018 we continued to directly refer our most vulnerable customers (referring 1,000 customers in 2018) through to our dedicated on-site Citizens Advice resource, who provide further help and support on topics like, welfare benefits, health and family matters in addition to the normal support on financial and debt advice. We continue to receive overwhelming support from customers and colleagues for this service.