Valuing difference to change lives every day

Introduce yourself and your company

My name is Mark Abrams and I’ve been the Chief Executive at Auriga Services for five years.

Auriga Services is a national provider of advice, assistance, and specialist services to address in the main, financial hardship. We combine our passion for inclusive support and our business professionalism to make a difference to households in vulnerable circumstances. We help over 1,000 people every day by resolving their financial worries.

We manage the Trust Funds of some of Britain’s biggest utility companies, including Severn Trent, Thames Water, United Utilities and British Gas. We also deliver income maximisation services on behalf of the NHS and local authorities and make crisis payments for organisations.

Since being in post I have focused on cultural and management change to enable the business to reach increasing numbers of people in hardship, and increase the impact we’re having. We are a public benefit entity, owned by a charity and managed by a team of professionals – with over 20 years of experience in delivering intelligent customer hardship support solutions.

What I tend to highlight is the difference we make to people, not Auriga as an organisation. Every member of staff plays a vital role in extending our reach, the quality of customer service and the positive impact on households. The assistance we deliver as a company has a profound impact on increasing inclusivity.

What is your D&I mission for 2020?

At the heart of Auriga is valuing difference. We create a positive environment in which everyone can influence, share knowledge and have their perspectives valued – and our staff demonstrates a serious commitment to providing services that are fair and accessible to all.

Ultimately our mission is to ‘change lives every day’ – and our vision is to ‘support 3 million healthy homes by 2030’.

Through having employment policies that suit a variety of workstyles, we can recruit and retain people from broader range within our society. From a business perspective that means more talent, and therefore higher quality, leading to better business.

We are a culture-driven business; the company values and culture are well defined. We have a company ‘Culture Club’ that studies how we express our values and directs our leadership team – to ensure we best exemplify these values to others.

Can you share some D&I best practice examples?

Our commitment to diversity is embedded at every level of Auriga. We are constantly tapping into our employees’ knowledge and perspectives! Recently one of our administrators Ifrah, was helping a Somali customer fill out a form for assistance. We recognised that her language skills, communication and ability to reach out to the Somali community, was an opportunity to increase accessibility to assistance in other areas and for other clients. We now build the needs of vulnerable Arabic customers in designing customer journeys and our channel strategy. Also, on behalf of our clients, we are broadening the scope and engagement of services to Somali communities.

What are you doing across your digital landscape to be inclusive?

We make sure our assistance and advice services are as inclusive as possible so that no users are excluded. This is where Recite Me has become so valuable.

It took me less than 30 minutes of a demonstration to realise that Recite Me was a simple, elegant and high-value product. As a small company, we implemented the solution in hours. Before I knew about Recite Me, I thought it would take us months.

In line with our commitment to lead on inclusion and inspire industry-wide change we now provide barrier-free access to our online application forms so people can with a range of accessibility issues, including visual impairments, dyslexia, colour blindness and other forms of neurodiversity, as well as those who need other languages. Recite Me even reads the website content out load in a huge range of languages.

Can you share an example of D&I success at Auriga Services?

One of the greatest benefits of our diverse and inclusive workforce is we capable of positively engaging with a wide customer base. A good example of this is our work on emergency fuel payments to help customers in very vulnerable situations. Keeping the power going to a household in crisis is a big responsibility, requiring professionalism, a quick response and high levels of customer service when issues arise. On December 24th 2019 one of our front-line staff stayed on the phone until 11.30pm to help a customer with suffering with a mental health condition receive an emergency fuel payment. She listened empathetically without making judgements and concentrated on the customer needs in the moment – ensuring this customer had a warm home for Christmas.

Concluding company message

For over 22 years we have held our focus on hardship and stayed true to our strong social purpose whilst offering an outstanding level of dedication, integrity and genuine care for customers. Auriga

We aim to provide an exemplary and inclusive customer service that inspires change across the advice and charity sector and within the utilities and health industries. Every day we work to promote diversity and inclusion with an enormous range of community groups and in different outreach facilities.

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