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Disability Awareness - Common Sense Approach

One of the things I often get asked as a Disability Consultant is how do we engage with and support individuals with a disability?

The reality is that businesses need to approach customers and staff members who have a disability in the same way you would anyone else. We often worry about things that we are unsure about but when it comes to disability awareness a few common sense approaches are all you need.

What do we need to do?

  • Don’t panic
  • See the customer not the disability
  • Allow extra time to answer questions or support if required

One of the things your business should do is invest in understanding the needs of your customer base and ensuring that you provide the best customer experience. So how do you provide a better experience than the competition?

What separates your business?

  • How do people interact with your business –Do they visit your premises or buy online?
  • What is different about your business over others operating in the same market?
  • How confident are you about meeting the needs of customers?

What is a good customer experience?

When considering the above questions it does not need to be complicated. Think about the last time you had an exceptional customer experience and consider the following:

  • What made that interaction stand out?
  • How many people did you tell about the exceptional service you received?
  • How many people would you have told if the service had been poor?
  • How would you like existing and potential customers to view your business?

The Impact

Recently I received an extremely poor customer experience from a large tourist attraction. In essence a member of their staff was extremely patronising in regards to my disability and actually caused some considerable offense to me. Interestingly when I raised the complaint at the head office of the attraction operator it very much felt like banging my head against a brick wall. Do I put people off visiting this local tourist attraction based on the poor experience? No not at all.

The friends who accompanied me on that day have however mentioned to their friends, associates and family members how bad the experience was and how appalled they were that in this day and age large businesses can get both disability awareness and customer service so wrong.

So the point is?

Think about the knock on effect that a poor service or lack of awareness can have on your business. A report produced by the Office for Disability Issues in conjunction with Atkins Management states the following:

“A survey of disabled consumer buying behavior revealed that 66% choose businesses where they have received good service. 2/3 seek businesses with good reputation for customer service. For over 37% good, ‘disability aware’ service is the primary reason for choosing a business”

When we consider that the same report suggests 58% of disabled people state that how a business treats them affects the buying decisions of their families and friends we can see that a sensible approach to disabilities makes strong business sense.

We understand that consumers with a disability represent an expanding customer base which is worth billions to U.K economy so it can pay to ensure that your business has a common sense approach to disability awareness.

 

*EFD, RADAR: The Walk Away £.