The topic has remained in the background of CX chatter. And, while it has done so, customer lawsuits have hit record highs.
One such lawsuit came back in 2019 when Guillermo Robles – a blind man – successfully sued Dominos after the pizza chain failed to make its digital channels accessible to the hard of sight.
Even with screen-reading software, Robles couldn’t order food from its website or smartphone app.
Unfortunately, this is far from an isolated incident, with website accessibility lawsuits reaching record highs.
In 2021, 2,895 US citizens filed such lawsuits – up more than 28 percent since 2019.
However, don’t think of contact center accessibility only through the lens of staying compliant. Get it right, and companies can spark joy by simply helping people with disabilities understand a simple message and allowing them to take part in an experience just like everybody else.
There is a financial incentive too – beyond avoiding lawsuits. Indeed, the total disposable income for U.S. adults with disabilities is approximately $490BN.
“By tailoring customer experiences to this demographic, businesses can capture a chunk of their spending power,” added Colin Mann, VP of Marketing at Enghouse Interactive.
But how can service leaders increase accessibility within their operations? Making online resources compliant with screen readers is an excellent start to avoiding the trap Dominos fell through.
Nevertheless, an excellent starting point is by engaging with disabled customers and employees.
Increasing Accessibility Through Engagement
These three actions may increase customer experience accessibility through engagement with the people that care about this topic most.
- Develop Journeys with Disabled Customers
Mann recommends researching and testing new customer journeys with diverse groups of customers. He states:
“Disabled customers may help spot potential problems before deployment, allowing the contact center to avoid making mistakes they may have to fix later on – at a high cost.”
Also, they may help the business avoid making assumptions such as: “We include support information in Braille, so we’re accessible for blind people.”
While that may seem to be the case, only seven percent of blind people read Braille. A blind customer would soon make the team aware of this issue.
- Work with the Diversity and Inclusion Committees
Many enterprises have diversity and inclusion committees, which include disabled employees. Service leaders should be a part of those too.
Of course, not every business will have such a team to learn from. Yet, that doesn’t mean that the contact center cannot kickstart one, discuss CX hits and misses, and apply learnings to contact center operations.
- Open Up a Clear Line for Feedback
Stay in touch with disabled customers and employees after the initial customer journey deployment.
Also, with access to the appropriate tooling, engage in social listening and quality initiatives to understand what disabled customers are saying, good and bad, about accessibility in CX.
By keeping its finger on the pulse, the business can continually optimize its customer journeys, paving the way for a more accessible experience.
What Might You Learn?
By engaging with disabled customers and employees, CX teams may apply their learnings to improve customer outcomes.
Such learnings may include the importance of opening visual communications channels, which allow deaf people to lip-read instead of using the phone.
Alternatively, for customers that cannot lip-read, consider adding real-time captions to allow the hard of hearing to keep up.
Such captions should also feature on pre-recorded videos hosted on the company’s website. Meanwhile, images on the site should include alt-text, and various sections should provide a sufficient color contrast to support customers who struggle to see.
Also, Mann suggests that contact centers:
“Consider enabling customers to navigate their IVR through touch-tone and speech to support customers with mental disabilities.”
Finally, to ensure the site and self-service mechanisms are accessible to assistive technologies, consider keyboard accessibility alongside screen readers. After all, people with motor disabilities often rely on modified keyboards.
The Benefits of Applying These Insights
As noted previously, there are cost benefits to applying these actions, which go beyond avoiding lawsuits. Indeed, the business opens itself to an entirely new customer segment.
However, the benefits of accessibility don’t stop there. By building an accessible customer experience, business leaders can also improve their brand reputation.
Disabled customers – alongside their family and friends – will likely spread positive word of mouth experiences, discussing how the business puts their needs first.
“In a competitive landscape, this can be a crucial way for any brand to differentiate itself,” adds Mann.
On top of that, investing in accessibility increases customer satisfaction and employee engagement.
Consider customer satisfaction first. If customers can’t access products, services, and solutions easily, they’ll go elsewhere.
Designing an intuitive service experience for everyone typically leads to higher satisfaction and improved retention.
Something as simple as providing customers with visual communication channels may be enough to increase engagement with a particular group of disabled people.
Then, think about employee engagement. Research shows that today’s top talent want to work with companies that are inclusive and capable of supporting all diverse needs.
As such, a CX team with a drive to make customer experience accessible to everyone can help a business increase its appeal to new talent.
Increasing Accessibility for Employees Too
Take accessibility beyond the customer experience, and there is also a significant opportunity in the employee experience. After all, the rise of remote work removed a big blocker to bringing people with disabilities into the contact center environment.
As such, service teams could expand their talent pools. Yet, to open it up further, the contact center can ensure agent technology complies with accessibility guidelines so that anyone – from anywhere – can handle customer queries.
To do so, the contact center at Which? works with The Shaw Trust to employ a diverse team and learns from them to ensure disabled employees can work in a comfortable environment.
By striking similar relationships – with such organizations – contact centers can often hire more capable employees, plug staffing gaps, and meet service levels. In turn, this complements the customer service experience.
In addition, it ensures every staff member can deliver their best work, regardless of their situation, turning every employee into a top performer.
Eager to develop a more accessible contact center environment? If so, visit: www.enghouseinteractive.co.uk