Interviewing vulnerable customers – the considerations

28 Jun 2021 | Research & Business Knowledge

A member recently asked for advice when interviewing vulnerable customers – mainly older customers dealing with healthcare issues. What issues should be taken into consideration? How should the interviews be planned and approached?

The advice from the e-group is summarised as follows;

1. METHOD. Let them choose (phone, zoom, f2f) as far as practically possible. If f2f isn’t possible, and their technological capabilities allow, ask them to self-video any issues reported in the interview. A great way of gaining more observational insight.

2. TIME MANAGEMENT. Allow extra for the interviews. They may struggle with linear, sequential conversation. Allow for digressions and the emotion of the interview to take longer than normal.

3. SCHEDULING. Be flexible. Treatment for their conditions may mean some days are better than others. Work around them. And drop-outs are likely so you may want to over-recruit.

4. CHUNKING. Split the interview over two sessions to avoid overloading them. But avoid getting too involved and building a long-term relationship.

5. CARERS. Involve their family/friends/carers in paired depths. They will have a different view on current/future needs. Plus, their presence will reassure the vulnerable customer.

6. SIGNPOSTING. Consider what support they may need and be ready to point them towards external organisations if necessary 7. INCENTIVES. Consider alternatives like a hamper or flowers. If it’s cash, pay well 8. CLARITY. They may be wary of scams. Reassure them about the process, objectives, and issues being discussed from the outset. Make it clear this is legitimate research!

9. LANGUAGE. Avoid the term “vulnerable”. It may not match their experience. Let them use their own words for what they’re dealing with.

10. STIMULUS. Consider how it would work for those with sight/hearing loss, cognition or other conditions.

11. SEGMENTING. Not all vulnerable people are the same and they can’t be pigeonholed into one easy box, often because they are dealing with several vulnerabilities at once.