Better Services to Vulnerable Consumers: Minister Backs Standard From BSI

By Bsi Group, PRNE
Monday, December 20, 2010

LONDON, December 21, 2010 - Despite technological advances, discrimination against consumers
inhibited by disabilities or disadvantaged by personal circumstances remains
a significant problem. Many people today find themselves excluded by
mainstream, day-to-day services on which they rely, such as banks, utilities,
telecoms, health services and local authority providers. Their vulnerability
can be hidden, a consequence of personal trauma or a health condition, or
temporary resulting from a job loss. These are complex issues for
organizations to identify and respond to appropriately.

Companies recognise that they need to support consumers better but
require assistance in modernising their behaviour, interaction and responses.
With support from industry, BSI has recently published a new standard
designed to help businesses provide fair, flexible services that are
accessible to all, regardless of ability and circumstances. This standard,
Inclusive Service Provision (BS 18477), is the result of shared knowledge and
good practice developed by business, consumer bodies, charities and
government departments.

Consumer Minister Edward Davey commented: "This is an important new
standard that will help protect vulnerable consumers. It will also benefit
business. Companies that best understand and respond to the needs of their
customers have the best chance of business success."

BSI's new standard is designed to raise consumer confidence in services
whether offered directly, through the internet, on the phone or on the
high-street. It should also help organizations improve customer satisfaction
and retention by:

    -- explaining and encouraging the use of fair, ethical and inclusive
    -- showing organizations how to identify vulnerable consumers and how to
       treat them fairly in compliance with the law;
    -- helping organizations understand what consumers are entitled to expect
       from them.

Shirley Bailey-Wood, Operations Director from BSI added: "The majority of
organizations do not set out to discriminate against or exploit vulnerable
consumers. They simply don't consider or know the most appropriate way to
anticipate and meet their needs. This standard has been designed to help
service providers reconsider their business methods and help them to respond
with greater understanding and sensitivity."

Citizens Advice has played an important role in the development of
Inclusive Services Provision. Lizzie Iron, their Head of Welfare Policy
stated: "We welcome this standard and hope that all organizations will use
it. It is absolutely vital that providers make the effort to identify people
who cannot easily use their services. For example, we see many cases where
people lose out because they find it hard to access services that are only
available online."

For further information, please contact Chiara Carella, PR Manager, BSI
Group, at, or visit

About BSI Group

BSI Group is a global independent business services organization that
develops standards-based solutions to improve management practices and
promote innovation. BSI can help businesses, governments and other
organizations around the world to raise quality and performance in a
sustainable and socially responsible way. From its origins as the world's
first National Standards Body, BSI Group draws upon over 100 years'
experience to work with 66,000 organizations in 147 countries from its 50
offices. To learn more, please visit

Chiara Carella, PR Manager of BSI Group, +44-(0)20-8996-7248, mobile, +44-(0)77-6835-8730, chiara.carella at

will not be displayed