Improving Accessibility in Customer Service and Why it makes good business sense
Whilst businesses don’t go out of their way to make services inaccessible for consumers, the result of neglecting accessibility in digital customer service impacts businesses and customers alike. Physical solutions like wheelchair accessibility, elevators or handrails, are now the norm, but what about accessibility for at-home customers who experience:
– Blindness or impaired vision
– Deafness or loss of hearing
– Neurological limitations
– Learning disabilities
– Limited movement
– Speech disabilities
All communication channels must be accessible for every single one of these customers, from the website to the call centre.
According to We Are Purple, a disability awareness charity that Customer Touch Point has recently become a member of, there are “2 billion disabled people in the world that represents 37.5% of world’s population” and “nearly 1 in 5 working adults have a disability.” These statistics should be enough to enforce meaningful changes at a corporate level to address disability and inclusion in customer service.
As well as being socially responsible, making improvements to accessibility for disabled or vulnerable customers will benefit your business commercially. Read on to find out how.
Tap into the market
According to our partners, We Are Purple, “the spending power of disabled people and their household worldwide is currently estimated to be worth $8 trillion, increasing by 14% per annum. Only 10% of businesses have a targeted strategy for this huge market.”
The businesses that tap into this substantial, overlooked, market will surely make back any investment into improving accessibility. In other words, if (as a We Are Purple survey found) more than 4 million people in the UK abandoned a retail website because of the barriers they found, taking with them an estimated spend of £11.75 billion”, then a business’s concerted effort to solve these issues for customers would clearly improve their bottom line quite considerably.
Shockingly “75% of disabled people and their families have walked away from a business because of poor accessibility or customer service”, according to We Are Purple; not only will improvements to inclusion and accessibility help you attract and retain new customers, it will also benefit the customer that is used to being ignored.
When you consider that 7 in 10 millennials actively consider company values when making a purchase (Forbes), it’s clear that considering vulnerable customers in your overall customer service system can pay dividends.
Cost-effective customer services
If customers who require extra help when contacting your business find its website inaccessible, they will call the customer service department. According to a research report by Deque, 90% of people with disabilities they interviewed “reported that they regularly called customer service multiple times to report an issue, even though they had already abandoned the transaction.”
One way to avoid this is to improve telephone menus. For customers who are hard of hearing, for example, IVR options should be clear, well-articulated and at a pace that allows the message to be understood easily.
As well as this, software can be installed that recognises a vulnerable customer’s number, allowing them to bypass the IVR menu and connect them directly to a specially trained agent that understands their accessibility needs. This is achieved using voice and text analytics, which can aid accessibility, as well as any emotional or urgent, needs.
A clear and intelligent way to save money in customer service is to reduce call handling times and move customers to digital IVR, but if a large portion of your customers have problems using digital channels, these savings cannot be fully realised.
“75% of disabled people and their families have walked away from a business because of poor accessibility or customer service.”
Customer service processes should make the customer happy, whilst increasing profitability. Improving accessibility is a clear way to achieve these two fundamental goals.
Focusing on how the most vulnerable customers access your services will increase brand loyalty, profits and innovation. By utilising and adapting to new technologies, like the ones we use at Customer Touch Point, services can improve for all customers, not just the vulnerable.
Customer Touch Point is a Purple Member and committed to improving disability awareness and accessibility in customer service.
Take part in our Accessibility Survey and let us know how you’re approaching accessibility in your customer services department.
Rick Kirkham is Managing Director at Customer Touch Point
For additional information on Customer Touch Point view their Company Profile