The Skipton Building Society has become the first financial services provider to adopt the new Communication Access Symbol.
Businesses achieving the Communication Access UK standards and displaying the new symbol will support the 14 million people across the UK who miss out on positive customer service due to their additional and unsupported communication needs.
The mutual, as an early adopter, has taken part in the implementation of the new scheme to continue to improve its communication for customers.
The Communication Access Symbol, with underpinning training and standards, was created by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) along with a number of its partners, with the hopes of the symbol becoming a recognisable icon and supporting customers across the nation with their additional communication needs.
Skipton’s Yorkshire-based Keighley and Leeds branch colleagues have already taken part in specialist online training focusing on accessible face-to-face, telephone and customer service and now proudly sport the Communication Access Symbol in the branches.
Research focused on accessibility, carried out by Skipton, revealed that two-fifths of Yorkshire natives struggle to understand what services are available to them and 45% often find it hard to communicate what their needs are.
It was also revealed that one in five feel they may become distressed when having to deal with face to face communication, whilst one in ten are concerned about trying to process information provided to them.
Over the course of the next 12 months, Skipton aims to continue to improve its accessibility to all and roll out the symbol and training to all of its customer facing departments, including its branches, call centre and financial advisors in order to support all of its customers communication needs.
Nick Hewer, RCSLT president, said: “People who have communication difficulties often feel marginalised by society because their needs can be hidden in a way that other disabilities are not. If they receive poor customer service as a result of businesses not understanding how to support their needs – whether it’s a bank, building society, gym, hotel, pub, restaurant, or shop, they are likely to feel twice as frustrated as the average person and with good reason.
“Achieving the Communication Access UK standards and displaying the symbol will be a great way for organisations to show they value all their customers by being keen and able to communicate inclusively with people who currently have difficulties accessing their services. It’s a lifeline for millions of people.”
David Cutter, group chief executive at Skipton, added: “Communication is key for any organisation. We rely on communication with our customers and our colleagues. They are the key to success – which is why it’s incredibly important to ensure that all our people are able to communicate effectively together and ensure that we continue to create a society where nobody is left out.
“We constantly review how we can ensure that we can still be there for these customers, offering the essential services whilst providing the best experience for them. This is why we took part in the early adopters’ programme and are proud to be the first financial provider to sign up to the programme. Over the next 12 months we aim to roll this out across all our customer facing teams from the branch networks to head office.”