Reg Dutton discusses how
Do you realise that you could be held personally responsible and fined for failing to listen to your customers?
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is responsible for regulating a sector which plays a critical role in the lives of every UK citizen, from children’s ISAs to pensions, direct debits to credit cards, loans to investments.
As a result, it is the conduct regulator for no fewer than 56,000 financial services companies, including banks, building societies, credit unions, insurers, designated investment firms and debt management companies.
The FCA’s remit is not only to ensure that the relevant markets function properly, but also to cover a number operational objectives, in particular securing protection for consumers.
If a company fails to ensure good conduct it can be penalised, and in 2016 alone, the FCA issued fines totalling a staggering £22,216,446.
Does your company meet the FCA’s six consumer outcomes?
Customers expect to receive financial services and products that meet their needs from companies that they feel they can trust. With this in mind, the FCA is committed to the fair treatment of customers and highlights six consumer outcomes that every company should strive to achieve.
With the contact centre in mind, the most pertinent is: “Consumers can be confident they are dealing with firms where the fair treatment of customers is central to the corporate culture”.
Even if you are fully aware of your company’s regulatory responsibilities, you may not be aware that it’s not just the company that can be held responsible.
Where does the buck stop?
In March 2016, the FCA introduced the Senior Managers Regime. This latest directive holds senior executives liable for a fine or ban if they cannot demonstrate that they took adequate steps to prevent wrongdoing.
No matter how small your company, you have the same responsibility as larger firms to demonstrate the fair treatment of customers. This responsibility cannot be delegated away, but it should be proportionate and relevant to the size of your firm.
All companies must be able to show that the fair treatment of customers is consistently at the heart of their business model. And if you are in charge of this area of the company, then it could be down to you.
The FCA and customer feedback
In order to ensure that customers are treated fairly, the FCA itself places great emphasis on the role of customer feedback:
“Customer feedback can help you identify where you are treating customers fairly and where improvements are needed. Remember that a satisfied customer is not necessarily being treated fairly. Feedback responses help flag risks for you to consider… they help you identify areas where your firm and its advisors are/are not treating customers fairly and therefore areas where improvements are needed.”
Yet, despite the clear warnings, many contact centres are still failing to implement the tools that result in an effective customer survey and insight programme.
The excuses vary from expense and commercial inflexibility to fear of disruption to the smooth running of their operations. While others admitted they were using outdated systems that weren’t fully integrated and as a result simply not fit for purpose.
At the end of the day, no excuse will save you from the potential repercussions.
It’s not just a matter of sending out a few surveys, it’s about capturing the Voice of the Customer.
If implementing a contact centre customer survey programme is treated as merely a box-ticking exercise, then you can pretty well guarantee that very few boxes will be ticked.
Getting customers to complete surveys is one thing, gathering actionable insight and then acting on it is another. All too often, surveys seem to focus on what the company wants to know rather than what the customer wants to tell it.
On the other hand, a comprehensive survey programme is about capturing, first hand, how customers feel about their experience with a business, product or service. It’s about capturing the true Voice of the Customer.
You can now capture customer feedback through a wide variety of methods: capture the customer voice in real time; transcribe audio to text with immediate effect; receive instant alerts based on predetermined words or trigger scores.
You also have the very latest online reporting mechanisms that can break down the results and produce customised reports at every level. These reports enable you to build robust sampling that capture customer feedback right down to an individual agent.
When implemented correctly, a comprehensive programme can identify and respond to the expectations, wants, and needs of customers. It can deliver the goal of improving customer satisfaction and loyalty; a collective voice that holds the key to hearing exactly what your customers are telling you.
It’s time to start listening more closely, or you may just end up paying the price.