Businesses not putting bereaved customers first | Cruse Bereavement Care

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The UK’s largest bereavement charity, Cruse Bereavement Care is revealing the physical and emotional burden bereaved people are facing when contacting businesses to tell them a loved one has died.  

A YouGov survey of over 1,600 UK adults* who notified businesses after the death of a family member or friend found that almost a third (32 per cent) said it took them two weeks or longer to contact all the relevant companies to notify them of their loved one’s death, of which 12 per cent said it took longer than a month.

Almost three in ten (27 per cent) bereaved people said the process of contacting all the relevant companies was not straightforward. Almost half (44 per cent) said it was time consuming as well as stressful (39 per cent), upsetting (30 per cent) and traumatic (16 per cent).

When asked which sector people had the worst experience with, 13 per cent pointed the finger at banks and buildings societies and 8 per cent said utility companies including gas, electric and telephone companies.

Cruse Bereavement Care is asking for businesses to simplify their process and put their bereaved customers first by putting in place the four ‘P’s’;

Plan: Have a written plan that outlines how businesses will treat bereaved customers with empathy and respect.

People: Train staff and make sure everyone who comes into contact with bereaved people knows how to respond efficiently and with understanding.

Process:  Streamline your processes and procedures to be simple and pragmatic. Avoid unnecessary steps and repetition.

Paperwork:  Ensure your paperwork is easy to follow and only asks for information that is needed. Pass on details of where people can get practical and emotional support.

Steven Wibberley, Chief Executive of Cruse Bereavement Care, said: “The days, weeks and months after a loved one has died can be distressing and bewildering.

“Bereaved people need time and space to grieve with their families, not spend countless hours on the phone or filling in unnecessary paperwork. Sadly, this research shows that businesses are causing further distress at an already difficult time.

“We want businesses to put their bereaved customers first by being empathetic and supportive. Their processes need to be simplified and staff trained to ensure they are providing the best possible experience for their grieving customers.”

Mike Rothwell from Durham encountered a number of problems with his energy provider, EON after his wife died in June 2016. He was told to fill in an eight page form and supply additional information, including a copy of the death certificate and probate forms to change the name on the account from his wife’s name to his.
 
Mike said: “The information I was being asked to give by EON after the death of my wife was completely unnecessary and in my opinion, immoral and unjust. It has caused me a lot of distress at an already difficult time and is still unresolved.  I want EON to simplify their processes so that others do not have to go through the same trauma that I have gone through.”

Cruse has launched its “Bereaved Customers First” campaign today, on Thursday 28th November 2019 and is hosting an event at the BT Tower in the evening with customer service representatives from a range of different sectors to highlight this issue.

Find out more about the campaign here: www.cruse.org.uk/bereaved-customers-first

ENDS

Notes to editors

For further information please contact: Becky Popperwell by emailing becky.popperwell@cruse.org.uk or call 020 8939 9539.  

*Online YouGov survey with 1,604 UK adults who have been bereaved and have dealt with organisations directly. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 4293 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 25th - 29th October 2019.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).