Vulnerable Customer Solution

An enhanced data integration solution with ML tools to drive better, more proactive, fairer services and support for vulnerable customers 

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The Vulnerable Customer solution is based on the Sentinel Data Platform and developed from experience garnered from over ten years of providing solutions for local authorities and private businesses to address vulnerability in citizens, children, families, and customers. 

Leveraging our advanced data platform, we can seamlessly integrate fragmented datasets, creating a comprehensive Single View for vulnerable customers. Enabling organizations to efficiently identify and deliver appropriate support. 

Customer Vulnerability is a growing concern across several sectors. Vulnerability can take many forms and can change quickly. Across many industries customer vulnerability is not only more prevalent but also increasingly complex for a number of reasons such as economic volatility, social circumstances, isolation, or international crises past and present such as the Covid pandemic and war.

Benefits from using our solution:

  • Increasing your efficiency in identifying and supporting customers.  
    Understanding priority, and correct prioritization, is a key concern across any business or organization. Due to the fluid nature of customer vulnerability, ensuring support and priority level are appropriate is a challenge. Our Vulnerable Customer data integration operates in real-time, allowing multiple channels of pertinent information to be viewed in one place, creating a most complete picture of need and vulnerability that is correct for the moment you need to act, and your customers need your support.
  • Integrated data for a complete picture:  
    Due to the complex nature of vulnerability, up to date, accurate and contextualized information is the foundation of any vulnerability assessment, monitoring, and proactive working. Our solution emerges from a heritage of integrating data to provide 360 views and holistic cases. Across different use cases support and action will vary, but defining and understanding customer needs is always the first step to ensuring vulnerable customers receive appropriate service and support.
  • Real-time, for today’s needs: 
    Due to the fluid nature of vulnerability information must be up to date and relevant for today. Our Data Integration Platform operates in real time, ensuring the Vulnerable Customer solution always provides your business with the most recent, up to date and accurate view of vulnerability.
  • Configurable triggers and alerts helping you respond faster and more proactively:  
    the Vulnerable Customer solution comes with 100s of preloaded trigger and alert functionalities. A key goal of this facet of design is aimed at driving pro-active working. The highly flexible trigger and alerts also allow businesses to tailor thresholds and responses to their customers' unique needs. In addition, we know businesses are best placed to tailor the solution to their customers. Different sectors, different industries, different places all come with their own unique set of challenges. The flexibility of our solution empowers you to respond specifically and effectively.  
  • Enhanced Insights and Analysis:  
    Our Vulnerable Customer solution includes insight and analysis dashboards, allowing high-level tracking of trends and patterns. The better you can understand the changing shape of vulnerability and associated issues, concerns, and needs, the better you can respond and meet your customer’s needs.
  • Improving your Reputation: 
     Be more than responsible. Many sectors have a responsibility towards vulnerable customers. Attending to complex and changing vulnerabilities are part of this challenge. But also, regardless of the nature of vulnerability, it plays a part in the experience customers take from engaging with a business and receiving services and products. Positive customer experience, whilst difficult to quantify, is always behind a good reputation. Our Vulnerable Customer solution gives you the toolset to provide a positive customer experience centered on value, care, and understanding. Transactions do not build positive reputation; people do.     

Sentinel Data Platform

A secure, user-friendly system designed to meet evolving needs.

Sentinel Data Platform


A Vulnerable Customer is anyone who, because of their personal circumstances, has an increased risk of physical or mental harm. This could be because of the customer's own situation or also because of one or more of their family members.

There is a wide spectrum of risk factors and events that affect everyone at different times in their lives, and everyone has the potential to become vulnerable, regardless of age or position in society.

The 4 key areas that drive increased vulnerability are Health, Life Events, Resilience, Capabilities, with a combination of events or factors across these areas that trigger problems. Combinations can be directly related and affect the same person, or they be indirectly related and factors affecting other people in a family could result in issues for a person. 


Examples of direct and indirect combinations of events and triggers leading to vulnerability...

  • Directly related combinations: economic deprivation leading to loss of confidence, social isolation and mental health vulnerability.  
  • Indirectly related combinations: family member having a long-term dependency on medication which must be refrigerated, and so electricity disconnection against the account holder (potentially a different family member) leading to immediate and critical vulnerability of health and mental health issues. 

Vulnerable customers are a concern across many industry sectors, with levels increasing due to volatile social and economic circumstances, for example during a recession or due to national crises such as the COVID Pandemic.

Increasingly, the dynamic and complex nature of vulnerability is a challenge for businesses. The fluid nature of vulnerability brings a significant challenge in terms of appropriate prioritization.

Vulnerability can change quickly; the needs of long term and established vulnerabilities can shift as circumstances around the individual evolve or change rapidly. Real-time and accurate vulnerability monitoring is crucial for businesses to respond to their customer’s needs appropriately— giving customers the support needed specifically for today.   

  • Vulnerable Customers in the Energy Sector: As a result of the cost-of-living crisis, the risk of energy disconnection due to non or late payment of bills is much greater. Energy is vital for all customers, but the consequence of risks vary greatly. Customers may need medicine refrigeration or may rely on electric mobility equipment.
  • Vulnerable Customers in the Financial Sector: As inflationary pressures increase; more people may fall into levels of debt they cannot afford to repay. The downward spiral of increasing debt and worsening credit profiles is almost impossible to escape without support from regulated financial institutions. Understanding customers, and addressing their needs before crisis point, is only possible with rich analysis and monitoring.
  • Vulnerable Customers in the Gambling Sector: With economic pressures affecting everyone, more people are looking to higher risk options, such as gambling, to try and increase their income. This increases the volume or people who may become dependent and addicted to gambling. Identifying and supporting those with high levels of gambling activities, especially when coupled with low income or low capability factors, is critically important to prevent customers from spiraling into crisis.
  • Vulnerable Customers in the Housing Sector: The number of people living with a risk of eviction or homelessness due to non or late payment of rent is increasing across the UK. Increased financial burdens can exasperate other vulnerabilities that already exist for a family, impacting physical and mental health, and education.
  • Vulnerable Customers in the Water Sector: It is crucial that water and wastewater services are accessible to all consumers equally. Vulnerability is a big part of this challenge and can take many forms, arising from financial issues, long term health or mental health problems, or changes in circumstances such as bereavement or job loss. The British Standards Institution (BSI) Inclusive Service Verification scheme (BS 18477) covers practices around the identification of customer vulnerability. Our Vulnerable Customer solution is designed specifically to meet and exceed the requirements of this certification standard. The requirements extend beyond identification, this is where integration with wider processes and systems is key. Heather Nowak, a client manager at BSI says: “BSI’s Inclusive Service Verification ask service providers to demonstrate the ways in which they identify and respond to different consumer needs.” Our solution enables and supports the response as well as identification, covering financial support, accessible communication options, or operational needs. During operational needs such as loss of water, identifying and responding to vulnerability, becomes even more urgent – for example, vulnerable customers may not be able to access collection hubs for bottled water. Our agile and powerful solution is key for supporting vulnerable customers in all circumstances, every hour, in crisis or not.   

The Vulnerable Customer Solution

At Sentinel, we have in-depth experience and proven track record in helping our clients to identify vulnerable individuals from the many huge and fragmented data sets available to them. We do this by bringing together all information available about each person into a common Data Platform where the data can be properly managed. Any number of data sources can be matched together to form a complete Golden Record of each person, before we then profiling the unified data to monitor for many different combinations of scenarios.  

Our Data Integration Platform is able to bring data together into a Single View of any individual, and then group this into families, extended families or any other combination of people. Our data profiling capabilities can focus on both individuals and on whole family compositions, considering both structured and unstructured information such as emails, messaging, audio files, or live phone calls.


Data integration

Integration of multiple data sources into a single unified view

Data Integration

Features of our solution:

Partnership approach: 
A trusted Data Partner, we work closely with our clients to configure as many vulnerability scenarios as are required to monitor for all customer vulnerability possibilities. We ensure that all types of scenarios are catered for, including those that are not yet at a critical stage to allow for earlier intervention and support to avoid crisis. 

Chronological picture:
Our Data Platform build up a chronological picture of any records events and incidents over time (it is a Longitudinal System), so that our clients can constantly and automatically monitor for changes in vulnerability levels across their customers.  

Integrated Portals: 
With an integrated Portal included as part of our solution, clients can see all critical information on dashboards and reports, including automated Target Vulnerability Cohorts showing customers who are in need support. All screens can include instant drill-down information into problem scenarios as to understand what is happening and why customers are suddenly at increased risk. 

Customer data collection abilities: 
Our Portal can also be used to provide customer facing data collection forms, allowing customers to provide feedback or complete application forms to request help or alert to issues they have. The information provided on these portals is matched into the overall information known about them, and profiling functionality will trigger immediate alerts as required. 

All of our solutions include a fully configurable Integrated workflow capability, to create alerts or process triggers across multiple teams and services. This drives a more collaborative approach to identifying and supporting customers in need of help. Alerts can take the form of messages on portal screens, emails, SMS messages or system messages to appropriate case management or CRM systems. 

The workflow functionality is also enabled to monitor service delivery across teams and services, providing management dashboards on key performance metrics and SLAs, to ensure that all identified vulnerable customers are supported and treated fairly. 

Use of advanced machine learning and graph databases for vulnerable customers

The core functionality of the Data Platform provides our clients with a fully integrated, profiled and accessible dataset to drive alerts, processes and performance reporting. On top of this, our solutions also include Graph Database technology and the latest Microsoft ML technologies.

Using an embedded Graph Database, our Data Platform will link all objects of the integrated data together with all other objects, to provide all possible combinations of data relationships to analyse and understand. All relevant causal factors are connected and profiled, across any customer’s circumstances, to help build up a full and dynamic view of any risks and vulnerabilities they have. 


Machine Learning Models 

The integrated data held in our Data Platform, is the perfect basis on which to create AI ML (Machine Learning) models. Using ML Modelling, it becomes possible to look at potential risks and future vulnerabilities and allow our clients to intervene earlier and prevent situations from worsening. 

Our Vulnerable Customer solution also includes a number of configurable ML tools. ML models are powerful and effective tools for improving vigilance and pro-active working where human resources may be less effective or better employed in other areas. One area where our Vulnerable Customer ML tools are particularly effective is around customer disengagement, or negative departures from a behaviour pattern. Customer services and CRM systems can be excellent for responding to customers, but vulnerability does not always announce itself, it is not affirmative. For example, an active and engaged customer may stop interacting, getting in touch or responding— but this does not mean issues are solved or vulnerability decreased; it could be due to severe circumstances. ML models are highly effective interventions in this context, where lack of engagement or a departure from an interaction pattern may be of greater concern than increased contact. Sometimes, who you don’t hear from is the customer most in need. The Vulnerable Customer ML toolset is a powerful asset to address negative red flags and complement existing customer service and escalation processes, providing holistic and proactive vulnerable customer support.     


Artificial Intelligence (AI) | Machine Learning (ML) | Data Intelligence Solutions

Guiding proactive decision-making and improving pre-emptive support using the latest Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning products.

Machine Learning and AI

Driving Proactive Customer Service 

As identified in this PriceWaterhouseCoopers report, ‘Vulnerable Customers: Industry research: from final guidance to action’, in terms of identifying vulnerabilities the ‘actual positive impact upon a customer’s experience comes from what happens next’ and ‘a greater effort is required to move away from a ‘tick-box’ exercise when considering vulnerability.’ In terms of specific legacy system data challenges, the report identified: 

79% Complex MI e.g., multiple sources and disjointed outputs 
74% Difficult or slow to improve/integrate 
68% No single customer view 

These are the typical challenges many of our products and services overcome. Our vulnerable customer solution uses the latest MDM technology of our Data Platform, takes the integration power of our Single View solution and adds a number of specific functionalities to support vulnerability identification, monitoring, profiling, and analysis with key functionalities to drive pro-active and joined up working. As points of contact continue to evolve in a digitised world, ranging from app, chatbot, webform, email to live phone calls and letters a hybrid approach between automated and human solutions is the norm: data integration is now paramount for organisations businesses to successfully address customer needs and vulnerabilities in this context.

We have many scenarios to showcase, where we have helped our clients to identify vulnerable people and families across a range of different problem areas:

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Portsmouth City Council

We have worked with Portsmouth City Council to provide one the countries first Vulnerable Pupil Tracker, allowing the council and their schools to work collaboratively to identify and support pupils at risk of harm or at risk of involvement in gangs and crime.

Read their story 

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Liverpool City Council

In Liverpool, our Data Platform is being used to identify Families in need of early Intervention due to a variety of lower-level risks and issues. It is also used to identify problems with more severe needs as part of the Supporting Families Programme, and it was used to identify people at risk of serious illness from COVID due to various medical and social care factors. Finally, it is being used to monitor gang membership and involvement with a focus of identifying those who are most vulnerable to gang recruitment. 

Read their story

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North Yorkshire City Council

In North Yorkshire we have provided a Safeguarding solution to help agencies work more collaboratively and efficiently, incorporating a direct Portal access for their North Yorkshire Police partner. We have gone on to extend this into Supporting Families Portal to help identify those families with complex issues and vulnerabilities.

Read their story

Transform data use in your organisation

Book your free data assessment today, and find out how much of an impact Sentinel's Master Data Management tools can have on your business.

  • Strict control and monitoring of data quality and completeness
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Take the hassle out of data management. Call us on +44(0)800 612 2116 or email us [email protected].