Have you ever heard something so many times it loses its intended meaning? We are probably all guilty, in both our personal and professional lives, of building up a bank of ‘stock phrases’ which we use time and time again, but which, with each use, loses meaning and impact.

As the regulator shifts course and focuses on new areas, common phrases and terms have over the years fluctuated in popularity. One of the ‘hot phrases’ of the last few years is ‘delivering positive consumer outcomes’.

Phrase fatigue?

The concept of delivering positive consumer outcomes stems from the FCA’s six ‘Treating Customers Fairly’ (TCF) principles and focuses attention on the service customers receive to ensure that the right information, products and aftercare is delivered throughout the relationship.

But now it’s almost impossible to escape, appearing on everything from FCA consultations, policies and speeches to job adverts and firms’ websites.

Perhaps it is the over prevalence of this phrase, but at TCC we think that it has lost some of its impact and resonance with the industry. It would seem that ‘delivering positive consumer outcomes’ has become one of those meaningless stock phrases.

Paying lip-service?

Despite the obvious phrase fatigue, delivering positive consumer outcomes is, in reality, central to the FCA’s objectives and will continue to be a core focus in the future.

It is not only a regulatory requirement to have customers’ interests at the heart of the business, there are significant competitive benefits to being truly customer-centric (yes, another buzz word!), including increased customer loyalty and an enhanced reputation.

For a company to demonstrate that it is truly dedicated to delivering positive consumer outcomes it should consider:

  • How best to integrate a customer focus into the business model and strategy so that all business decisions are made with the best interests of customers in mind;
  • Implementing a positive, customer-focused culture. To ensure effective integration across all levels of the firm, advocates should be established at every level, particularly amongst the board and senior management;
  • Use on-going monitoring and controls to ensure that customers are at the heart of every transaction. This is most effective when firms collect high quality management information (MI) to identify issues and trends in the outcomes customers’ receive and senior management react quickly to any signs of potential consumer detriment;
  • Regularly review post-sale functions, including complaints or claims handling, to ensure that customers continue to receive appropriate service levels and that processes do not create unnecessary post-sale barriers.

Vocalising a commitment to Treating Customers Fairly and positive outcomes is admirable, but without demonstrable action they remain merely words, describing an abstract concept. Paying lip-service to an idea does not build consumer loyalty, improve reputation or help firms grow their customer base, but truly ensuring the delivery of positive consumer outcomes can result in all of this, and more.