How to improve accessibility and inclusion in customer experience
It’s long been acknowledged that customer service departments don’t always perform well when it comes to accessibility and this reduces inclusion – in fact research by Ofcom found that the needs of disabled people when using communications services showed that difficulty dealing with call centres was a common problem. This is perhaps because of the nature of the contact centre – it’s a remote facility, with no face-to-face customer interactions.
As a result, accessibility needs are harder to spot and easier to ignore.
Having worked in customer experience for more than 15 years, many of which has been spent working with financial services firms, we’ve put together three areas of focus to help improve accessibility across customer services: Corporate policy, technology, and contact agency awareness and signposting. Let’s take a look…
#1 - Corporate Policy
First, and perhaps most importantly, there needs to be an acknowledgement that accessibility is important.
According to We Are Purple, organisations are missing out on the business of disabled consumers due to poor accessibility and as a result lose about £2 billion a month by ignoring the needs of disabled people.
That’s why all organisations need a clear corporate policy to address disability and inclusion, across all areas of business, including customer experience. Whether face to face, over the telephone or across digital channels.
#2 - Customer Experience Technology
Non-face-to-face enquiries can make accessibility harder to spot, but with so many contact management solutions available, it’s now easier than ever to spot, manage and improve customer accessibility and inclusion needs.
One simple way is to improve telephone menus. For those who are hard of hearing, or have learning difficulties, they will need more time to digest what they’re being asked to do, so make sure the language is clear, well-articulated and spoken at a steady pace.
You can also install software to recognise a customer’s number, and then use that technology to bypass the menu and connect them straight to an agent and maybe a dedicated team trained to support customers with vulnerabilities or accessibility needs.
Other technology that can help includes voice analytics and text analytics, which can be used to indicate, in real-time, any vulnerability or accessibility needs and allow the agent to respond accordingly.
#3 - Live Agent Awareness & Signposting
Finally, it’s crucial that the contact agent is aware that a customer has an accessibility need and is skilled to deal with it.
Start with the basics, by ensuring the customer’s accessibility need is logged in their contact record.
Then, make sure your contact centre software can sign-post the agent to support services that can help – whether large print statement, braille or sign-language interpretation – all of which will ensure future products and services are delivered in the best way for the customer.
Focusing on these three areas creates a win-win for all. The customer’s experience is improved, and the organisation can benefit from the long-term loyalty of the 14 million UK customers with accessibility needs – who have a spending power of £247 billion!
Customer Touch Point is a Purple Member and committed to improving disability awareness and accessibility in customer service.
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