Supporting Customers in Vulnerable Circumstances
Energy services must be accessible
Energy UK launched the Commission for Customers in Vulnerable Circumstances, to explore how the UK energy industry can meet the needs of customers in vulnerable circumstances, including people with disabilities.
Recite Me submitted a paper to the commission panel and took part in a workshop, while attending a hearing to support the report the commission produced.
The Commission for Customers in Vulnerable Circumstances Report 2019 recommends that customers in vulnerable circumstances must be offered a range of communication channels so they can engage with their suppliers in a way that best meets their needs.
More recently, Ofgem’s Vulnerable consumers in the energy market: 2019 report states that:
“Energy companies should make reasonable adjustments for disabled consumers and ensure that all new services and products are accessible to their consumers.
“Making accessibility a core element at the design stage ensures that no consumers are unnecessarily excluded and allows changes to be made earlier, normally at a reduced cost to the company, if the service is not accessible to all consumers.
“We want all consumers, including those with special communications needs…to be able to engage with the energy market and effectively communicate with companies.” (pp 23)
Recite Me helps deliver digital inclusion
That’s why energy companies like British Gas, United Utilities, Utilita Energy and many other utility organisations, have added Recite Me’s assistive toolbar to their website to create an inclusive experience.
British Gas added Recite Me to its website to help support vulnerable customers online, removing online barriers for people with disabilities and people who don’t speak English as their first language.
The introduction of the Recite Me toolbar allows website visitors to customize the British Gas website in a way that works best for them.
Cecil Edey, Conduct and Consumer Vulnerability Manager at British Gas commented, “As the largest energy and services provider in Britain, it’s vital that our online customer support is accessible to all the diverse communities we serve around the country, which is why we are proud to launch the “Recite Me” accessibility toolbar on our website.”
Visitors to the British Gas website can change the page styling by customizing the font size and colour and the colour contrast between text and backgrounds, or by using the reading aids to mask distractions on the screen.
People who don’t speak English as their first language benefit from Recite Me’s real-time translation feature which can translate over 100 languages, including reciting text in 35 different languages.