BSI launches the Kitemark™ for inclusive service to help organizations demonstrate their commitment to vulnerable consumers

25 April 2022

BSI, the business standards and improvement company, today launches the Kitemark for inclusive service to provide assurance that organizations are providing an inclusive and flexible service that is available, usable and accessible to all consumers equally – regardless of personal circumstances. Amid the cost of living crisis as the price of utility bills increases, and the growing number of vulnerable adults living in the UK[1], protecting vulnerable consumers has never been so critical. 

All consumers are different, with widely varying personal characteristics and circumstances, from their age, health and wealth, to their abilities and other needs such as hearing loops or translation. These variable factors, combined with the effect of life events and external conditions can impact anyone, at any time and can place consumers in a position of vulnerability or disadvantage. This can make it much harder for consumers to make smart, informed choices during certain transactions and communications with organizations.

The BSI Kitemark for inclusive service focuses on protecting vulnerable consumer and organizations have to demonstrate compliance to the new standard, BS ISO 22458 Consumer vulnerability – Requirements and guidelines for the design and delivery of inclusive service, which supersedes BS 18477.

In addition to the new standard, the Kitemark for inclusive service has industry specific requirements which test an organization’s processes with evidence they are meeting performance metrics. The Kitemark provides a framework to help organizations and their employees understand the underlying factors involved in consumer vulnerability, and work to develop processes to help with the challenge.

The Kitemark for inclusive service covers schemes in the energy, water and financial sectors cover topics such as the identification of customer vulnerability, inclusive design of products and services, including the adoption of AI (artificial intelligence) and data collection, protection and sharing to ensure that organizations are creating an inclusive service for all.

To achieve the BSI Kitemark for inclusive service, organizations will be assessed by an expert auditor against the BS ISO 22458 standard and scheme requirements. This will be a two-part assessment, which will involve a programme of ongoing surveillance after certification has been achieved to assess continuing compliance.

Natasha Bambridge, Global Consumer Promise Practice Director at BSI said: “Organizations that understand consumer vulnerability, and provide an inclusive and flexible approach, are better able to meet a diverse range of consumer needs, making it easier for consumers to access information, services and products, make good decisions and achieve positive outcomes.

“Therefore, achieving the Kitemark for inclusive service will demonstrate an organization’s ongoing commitment to offering an inclusive service for all at a critical time when the cost of living is currently soaring and hitting vulnerable consumers particularly hard.

“Organizations will also benefit from an increased market share, boosting performance, enhanced social value and brand reputation by contributing to United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDGs), particularly the SDG 10 on inequality.”

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