Disability is something that can affect anyone. Some people are born with disabilities whereas others can become disabled for a variety of reasons including illness and accidents. Sometimes this can even be a result of medical negligence or a brain injury. I think it’s fair to say that there shouldn’t be any discrimination for disability, whether this is entry to a shop, help with shopping or trying to navigate around a website as mentioned in this excellent post here.
Independence is the most important factor; what someone sees as helpful aid, another can see as an insult to their independence. With a disability, it may feel like you lack some independence and can’t do anything that you can do yourself that you may want to do yourself.
It’s 2013, I believe that every business should now have a policy to make sure discrimination against people with disabilities isn’t happening in the workplace. They also need to make sure their customers feel that they have ease of access and support should they need it.
This video offers the following points”
- Speak directly to the customer – not a caregiver or companion
- Always say “person, or customer with disabilities” not “disabled person”
- Ask the customer; “How can I help you…? Not, what can I do to help you…?”
- Be patient and courteous. Take your time and allow the customer to act independently.
- Do not prejudge a customer’s ability
One comment states, “Everybody is different and I don’t agree with the advice given as the only way”. I agree completely with this, everybody is different, and my favourite line from this is, “Just treat people as people and listen when they speak.” Although I think the video has every intention of trying to develop and improve customer service for people with disabilities, I also believe that the comments about treating people as people, is just as important and relevant. This post addresses some of the issues that businesses and individuals have with using language that could potentially be offensive or discriminatory.
So why should businesses care?
Well, apart from the obvious humane reason that everyone should be treated equally, disability or not, there is also the law. Any business worth their salt must adapt to the law. This can sometimes mean changing strategies at short notice, but successful businesses tend to be the most adapt to change.
Some of the biggest businesses in the World, such as Apple and McDonalds, will tell you the value of customer service. In fact, McDonald’s entire business plan and mantra revolves around the fact that the customer comes first and without customers there would be no business.
For a customer with disabilities I can imagine it can often feel frustrating to be dealing with bad customer service. This can be for a number of reasons, but I believe that the number one reason is that they may feel others are prioritized instead. In my personal opinion, I believe that if you want a business to succeed then you need to keep in mind the customer or client no matter what.
How does this benefit a business?
Businesses are there to make money. That is a fact. So why should businesses worry about disability? Well, first things first. It improves morale all round; for the customer but also the staff. By increasing the company’s positive public image, making sure that all are treated equally and that those who need help are offered it.
Customer loyalty = increased sales. This means that every customer is valued, and those who do require extra help will be given it no matter how much time it takes. Being able to talk to customers without prejudice or prior judgements are real assets within the customer service industry; the best businesses on the planet understand that they should be just as much customer-focused as they should be money-driven.
Customer service should be an important part of any business, taking into consideration diversity and inclusion for all. By constantly adapting and evolving, customer service can not only strengthen businesses but also help make steps towards making sure they’re not left with frustrated customers. From the lady who needs more time to absorb information to the gentleman in the wheelchair; it shouldn’t matter. What’s important is that people should be treated as people. If a business can’t get their head around equality then they are left with a flawed plan.
About The Author
Matt Jones blogs about disability, businesses and law. Being in direct contact with disability he is a strong believer that discrimination shouldn’t be allowed to happen anywhere.