British International Investment
9 April 2020

Guidance on protecting customers during COVID-19

The impact of COVID-19 on businesses is acute, forcing them to deal with unprecedented financial and operational stress. For CDC investees, this will have immediate implications for consumers in some of the most underdeveloped economies and financially vulnerable populations. Effects in emerging markets are expected to be wider and more severe, so while regulators and governments continue to respond on a daily basis to support their economies, companies will need to play their part to ensure that micro-economies, value chains and customers are protected in the longer-term.

In response to the unprecedented circumstances we have prepared this short guidance note on some key things businesses can consider in order to manage risks to customers while they prioritise their efforts and resources.

In the short-term, customers may face risks around:
– Affordability and cash-flow constraints
– Information asymmetries
– Accentuated vulnerabilities
– Health and safety

In the medium to longer-term, customers may face risks around:
– Affordability and income
– Limitations on preferences and choices
– Information security and privacy

To respond to both of these as the crisis evolves, we suggest some priority action items to consider:
– Be vigilant of the effects of your business continuity plans on your customers
– Take the responsibility on yourself, more than usual, to ensure transparency. Communicate with your customers.
– Proactively consider altering or adjusting your contractual relationships with your customers to accommodate them.
– Take time to re-assess your customer segments – i.e. the different types of customers you serve. Include a gender lens and consider any risks that are specific to female customers.
– Maximise your digital footprint and channels as much as possible.
– Be aware of your country’s guidance, policies and support being offered to businesses and to the public.

Read the guidance note in full here

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