It might feel far away right now, but the final deadline for adherence to the Financial Conduct Authority’s Consumer Duty is looming on 31st July 2024.
Last summer, the FCA released new rules and guidance outlining that firms ‘must act to deliver good outcomes for retail customers’, putting emphasis not just on the quality of products and services, but also consumer understanding and support.
In our recent webinar dedicated to the Consumer Duty regulations, it was clear that while companies seem confident of their progress, but the inability to benchmark against others is creating uncertainty. With that in mind, we’ve summarized the key takeaways, ready for you to action and consider in your plans.
1. Training frontline staff is essential
To truly implement Consumer Duty, contact center teams will be instrumental. Agents will be front and center in ensuring consumers realize the benefits of the products and services they buy, and that they’re not hindered from acting in their own interests. Training on the standards and how this looks in your organization will be key to success.
2. The importance of accessibility and availability
It’s no good providing a great service if your customers struggle to access it. The FCA wants you to ensure that if customers call, they can actually get through to speak to someone, and have necessary conversations. If they’re unable to do so, you need to be implementing corrective actions – calling back, for example – to ensure all customers are taken care of in a timely manner.
3. Communication will be vital for success
Should something happen – a high-profile news story, or data breach – that results in a surge of customers trying to contact you, you need to have a plan. No-one’s asking you to predict the future, but there are times where you’ll simply not have the resource available to handle all the interactions coming your way. That doesn’t mean your customers’ needs fall by the wayside.
During moments like this, the FCA are looking for firms to communicate. That means publicizing any delays, giving estimates of waiting times and signposting customers to an alternative way of getting in touch to help them get support.
4. Monitoring and quality assurance is a crucial part of the process
While agents will be the frontlines, QA teams will play a vital role in ensuring the standards are adhered to consistently. Companies will be relying on their teams to identify service issues too – like customers getting cut off, longer wait times, or key patterns in complaints. Not just because product and service delivery is important, but because monitoring and improvement forms a key part of the Consumer Duty principle too.
So if your contact center could do with some improvement, you need to demonstrably be showing how you’re identifying issues and finding ways to enhance the customer experience.
5. Consequences could be severe for non-compliance
Sheldon Mills, Executive Director of Consumers and Competition at the FCA, has warned that firms who ignore the duty or who pose the most harm can expect swift action.
“Our supervisory and enforcement approach will be proportionate to the harm or risk of harm to consumers with a sharp focus on outcomes. In some cases firms can expect us to take robust action such as interventions or investigations along with possible disciplinary sanctions.”
In other words, you absolutely do not want to be ignoring your responsibilities – those who do will be made an example of.
This is especially true in cases of vulnerability, which has rightly been a hot topic in financial services for so many years. It’s vital that those cohorts of customers get the support and additional help that they need in order for them to help understand, interact and make the best use of their products.
How technology can help
QA isn’t there to just improve the customer experience overall, with the right tech stack, it also has the capacity to demonstrate your compliance to regulations.
It’s difficult to be compliant, however, if you only have view of a small part of the picture. For many companies, a manual QA program means they’re assessing less than 5% of their customer interactions. That means firms are missing out on a huge amount of insight, and potential pitfalls where they’re letting customers down.
Evaluagent has been created by industry leaders who have decades of experience worked in and alongside contact centers – so we have a unique appreciation for compliance, and the stresses and strains it can place on QA team members.
That’s why we’ve pioneered features like AutoQA – where AI assists in scoring every interaction, not just the small percentage your evaluators are able to do – to help achieve complete coverage across the contact center. Not only that, but evaluators can specifically drill down into interactions tagged with ‘vulnerability’ or ‘fail’ to really get to grips with the customer experience and how they can improve.
Want to know more? Watch the full webinar on demand, or check out our Consumer Duty scorecard below.
Consumer Duty Scorecard
For Quality Assurance teams, Consumer Duty regulations mean collecting and analyzing more data than ever before to demonstrate positive consumer outcomes. Not sure you’re on the right track? Download our free scorecard today.Download the template