No organisation can meet all customer needs in-house. So how can organisations signpost their customers in need to the right support, at the right time?
Customers today are facing many different life challenges and are unable to find support. Directing vulnerable customers to trusted support services can greatly help them find the help they need in a complicated and changing environment. With growing societal and regulatory demands, many businesses are seeking solutions to support customers, enhance engagement, and create positive impact for customers, colleagues and communities.
What is signposting?
Signposting is the act of guiding or directing people towards appropriate support or services. This can involve providing information about services, making referrals to relevant organisations, or offering advice and support to help people access the resources they need. The time taken to ensure that information is carefully curated, maintained and relevant to the challenges people face, is not an insignificant effort.
Current Landscape of Customer Vulnerability in the UK
According to the Financial Conduct Authority’s’ Financial Lives Survey in 2022, 47% of UK adults (equivalent to 24.9 million people) showed one or more characteristics of vulnerability, Factors such as economic uncertainty, an ageing population, and mental health challenges contribute to the rise in customer vulnerability. This highlights the importance and the need to provide effective signposting services for vulnerable customers in the UK.
Front line staff often hear customers presenting multiple requirements and problems when interacting with them. The frequency of these more complex interactions is on the rise as customers grapple with one crisis after another. Whilst specialist teams can support vulnerable customers, many advisers do not have adequate resources to refer customers to trusted support across the variety of problems that can arise.
Benefits of signposting for vulnerable customers
For vulnerable customers, signposting services can offer a wide range of benefits, including:
1. Access to support: Signposting services can help vulnerable customers access the support and resources (ideally before the point of crisis) they need to address their specific needs. This can be particularly important for those who may struggle to find and access support on their own, such as people with disabilities, mental health issues, or language barriers.
2. Empowerment: By providing information and guidance, signposting services can help vulnerable customers feel more empowered and in control of their situation. This can be particularly important for those who may feel disempowered or marginalised in their daily lives.
3. Improved outcomes: By connecting vulnerable customers with the right support and resources, signposting services can help improve their outcomes and promote their overall wellbeing. This can be particularly important for those who may be at risk of harm or who need urgent support to address their needs.
4. Time and cost savings: Signposting services can help vulnerable customers avoid wasting time and money on services that don’t meet their needs. This can be particularly important for those who may have limited financial resources or who are facing urgent or critical situations.
Benefits of signposting for colleagues and communities
Signposting services can provide additional benefits to colleagues and communities in a variety of ways, including:
1. Increased collaboration: Signposting services can encourage collaboration between different organisations and agencies, helping to build stronger, more integrated support networks for vulnerable customers.
2. Improved customer experience: By providing clear information and guidance, signposting services can help create a positive experience for customers, ensuring that they feel supported and heard throughout their journey.
3. Enhanced reputation: By offering signposting services, organisations can demonstrate their commitment to supporting vulnerable customers and promoting social inclusion. This can help enhance their reputation and build trust within the community.
4. Improved employee engagement: Reducing the workload and pressures faced by front-line and operational teams, empowering them to provide information to customers whilst gaining access to valuable support services themselves.
Delivering outcomes for social inclusion
Signposting services play a crucial role in delivering outcomes for social inclusion. Promoting equality and diversity and ensuring that everyone has a voice. People really struggle to find support; this can add to anxiety levels for customers, and, for front line colleagues. Providing a clear route to access vital support services, removes confusion and ensures people get the support they need, when they need it most.
By providing guidance, support, and access to resources, signposting services help break down barriers and promote greater inclusivity for customers, colleagues and communities.
Signposting vulnerable customers with NSN
Signposting services offer a wide range of benefits. By providing clear information on over 2,500 national support services, National Support Network (‘NSN’) can help businesses to connect customers and colleagues with the support and resources they need to thrive, promoting social inclusion and enhancing wellbeing for everyone.
As NSN Founder, Cat Divers, explains: “Our focus is on making it easy for organisations to refer those in need to specialist support by providing high-quality information. We reduce the noise and streamline referrals by hosting the UK’s largest vetted and independent directory of services.”
The NSN Directory is one-of-a-kind. It can easily be integrated with existing customer platforms and processes. Whereas existing signposting resources can quickly become outdated or don’t offer as much scope, the NSN Directory is continually updated with recognition of the continually changing support landscape.
Offering a valuable extension to wellbeing strategies and toolkits for both customers and staff, NSN’s innovative specialist signposting services can help direct people to charities or third parties who can provide relevant support without risking advisers overstepping their training.
The NSN Directory, as an independent and reliable source for information on external services, can quickly become an important part of a customer adviser’s toolkit.