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DMA produces guide for contact centres to deal with ‘vulnerable consumers’

28 Nov 2012 10:18 GMT Back
DMA produces guide for contact centres to deal with ‘vulnerable consumers’
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Contact centres are to be issued with new guidelines on dealing with vulnerable consumers by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) as the industry’s contribution to a government-led campaign to create a dementia-friendly society.

The voluntary industry initiative has been already recognised in the recently-published progress report on the Prime Minister’s challenge on dementia, which aims to deliver major improvements in dementia care for the 670,000 people in the UK living with dementia.

The guidelines also cover a range of other groups of people designated as vulnerable consumers, including those with a limited understanding of English and those with mental health issues. One in four people experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year.

The DMA’s Guidelines for call centres dealing with vulnerable consumers sets out for call centres and companies engaged with telemarketing practical guidance on how to identify and manage a call with someone they believe is unable to make an informed decision.

The DMA’s Contact Centres & Telemarketing Council produced the guidelines in conjunction with charities Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia Action Alliance and Rethink Mental Illness, as well as companies including BT, trueCall, nPower, Blue Donkey, KMB Telemarketing and ReynoldsBusbyLee. The guidelines set out step-by-step the signs to look out for to identify a vulnerable consumer and how best to communicate with them. The guidelines also include details on how managers can support their staff to ensure responsible contact with vulnerable consumers.

Commenting on the launch of the initiative, Elaine Lee, chair of the DMA Contact Centres & Telemarketing Council, said:

"The marketing industry needs to increase its efforts to ensure that companies can identify vulnerable consumers and understand how best to meet their needs. However, it’s not easy to identify those within our communities who are vulnerable when selling at a distance.

“We’ve produced a clear set of practical guidelines to enable organisations provide helpful and supportive sales and customer service to those struggling to remain independent. This initiative will provide further industry safeguards to protect and help society's most vulnerable people. We urge all organisations to implement these guidelines."

Jeremy Hughes, CEO of Alzheimer’s Society, added:

“Call centre staff may speak to people with dementia on a day-to-day basis so ensuring they can recognise the condition is vital. Someone with dementia may be confused during a call and sign up for a product they don’t need or can’t afford, which is bad for both the company involved and the person.

“Dementia is the biggest health challenge facing society and all of us have a role to play in tackling the condition. These guidelines represent a welcome step from the direct marketing industry to ensure that vulnerable consumers are protected. We now need all organisations across the industry to play their part by signing up to this valuable initiative.”

Download Guidelines for call centres dealing with vulnerable consumers

Tristan Garrick, Head of PR & Content: / 020 7291 3315
Lakruwani Herath-Culley, PR executive: / 020 7291 3324

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