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Vulnerable Customers

Everyday activities like shopping can present challenges for vulnerable customers.

We've put together new guidance which outlines some of the ways that retailers can accommodate the needs of vulnerable customers in-store.

There are many small actions you can take to make your stores more accessible for everyone. For example, clear, easy to read signs benefit every customer. A doorway or ramp that makes it easy for someone with a mobility impairment will also be useful for a parent with a pram or buggy. Try to ensure that vulnerable customers can access your services in the same way or as close as possible to the same way as customers without a vulnerability.

General Principles

• Treat a vulnerable person in the same manner and with the same respect and courtesy you would anyone else.

• Providing good customer service to vulnerable customers will sometimes mean doing things differently.

• Try to think flexibly and creatively about the way you serve customers in order to meet their needs.

• Do not make assumptions about the existence or absence of a vulnerability/ disability; many people have vulnerabilities that are not visible or immediately apparent.

• A vulnerable individual/customer may not introduce a personal assistant or an interpreter. Take your lead from the person using the services.

• People who use guide or assistance dogs may have a visual, hearing or mobility impairment, or they might have epilepsy. These dogs are working dogs and should not be treated as pets.

• Don’t worry if you ever feel embarrassed because you aren’t sure what to do. We can all feel anxious about doing the wrong thing on occasions, and this may be the first time you have met anyone with your customer’s particular vulnerability/disability.

• Be confident; relax and ask your customer how you can help.

• Some people need a little more time than usual for everyday tasks such as finding items or paying. Always be patient and give extra help if it’s needed.

Download the Supporting Vulnerable Customers Guide

Additional Materials

You can download PDFs of the different sections of the guide here:

Supporting Vulnerable Customers: Customers who ask for help

Supporting Vulnerable Customers: Customers who are blind or have visual impairments

Supporting Vulnerable Customers:  Customers who are deaf or have a hearing impairment

Supporting Vulnerable Customers: Dementia

Supporting Vulnerable Customers:  Customers with a facial disfigurement

Supporting Vulnerable Customers: Customers with learning disabilities

Supporting Vulnerable Customers: Customers who use wheelchairs, scooters, sticks or walking frames

Supporting Vulnerable Customers: Customers with mental health conditions

Supporting Vulnerable Customers: Store Map (A3)

Supporting Vulnerable Customers: Store Map (A2)

More information

This guidance has been produced in consultation with Alzheimer’s Society and following advice on accessible formatting provided by the Business Disability Forum (BDF). 

If you would like more information on how to produce accessible materials, please visit www.businessdisabilityforum.org.uk.

For more information about the guide or to request print copies, please email chloe.heyde@acs.org.uk.