15% of the world’s population or 1 billion people have some kind of disability. Roughly 15% of any business’ customers have some form of disability, be it hearing or vision impairment. Each one of them deserves an individual approach from customer support representatives.
Today we will learn how to provide services to customers with disabilities.
In this article, we'll cover:
Tips for the Support Teams
Customer support teams must be prepared and follow strict guidelines when it comes to providing services to customers with disabilities.
👤 See the Person First
Customers with disabilities are first and foremost — people. They have expectations from customer support teams. Just like everyone else, they are to get the highest level of service.
Support teams must understand this and treat every customer equally — with respect.
By providing inclusive services and support, businesses can ensure openness and approachability. They will elevate their reputation and value in the market.
🙂 Be Patient
Impatience of the support representative can be heard in their voices or seen on their faces in a video call. No matter the customer on the other side of the call, they have to be treated with patience.
It is especially true when it comes to customers who might have trouble hearing, understanding or remembering the information. Staying in a call or a chat for as long as needed is the number one rule to satisfy their needs and eliminate the questions they might have.
📣 Speak at a Regular Pace and Tone
Customers with hearing difficulties might require a support consultant to speak louder or use sign language in a video call. Other than that, there should be no adjustment in the spoken language.
Clear and fast answers, polite attitude, and the entire scope of appropriate customer communication rules — this is the proper way to communicate with customers with disabilities.
🤝 Be Courteous and Proactive
When starting a conversation with a customer, introduce yourself, ask what they need help with and do not start the process of resolution until specifically asked. Do not try to guess or assume what a customer might require. Just like any other user, they might have troubles with payments, shipment or simply need guidelines on using the service. Never assume that their request could be tied to their disability.
How to Help Customers With Disabilities: Core Rules
45% of customers prefer calling a support team to resolve issues. It is especially true for questions concerning a financial segment or more difficult issues requiring a personal connection with a support representative.
Getting a phone or a video call from a customer with special needs — what are the core rules?
How to Help Customers With Mental Disabilities
- Make no assumptions about their disability and needs.
- Make your website, content, and media more accessible.
- Do not hesitate to demonstrate a proactive approach and ask what they might need.
- Be patient and wait for a reply.
- Be prepared for different ways of communication such as video calls, pictures or long texts.
💛 SupportYourApp experience: At SupportYourApp we support a lot of different apps. One of them helps people meditate, calm down after a panic attack or let them concentrate. Our support consultants deal with customers who have troubles breathing, listening or have special and specific needs. They have to be 100% sure in the information they provide and use calm and empathetic language during communication.
One of the customers was calling our team every week as she was having troubles concentrating on the meditation music and breathing at the same time. And every week our support consultant was happy to explain all exercises and practices to her. This way the customer was able not only understand the process of meditation better, but also get reassurance on the best approach to the process.
How to Help Customers With Physical Disabilities
- Make sure to provide support via all possible means of communication to promote inclusivity.
- Use as many online tools that can help a customer in communication as possible.
- Ask a customer if they would like a transcript of a chat or recording of the call in case they need to dive into the resolution process again.
How to Help Customers With Hearing Difficulties or Deafness
Making a video call is one of a few options for deaf customers to reach and communicate with a support consultant over the phone.
- Always ask the customer about their preferred way of communication before starting the conversation.
- Provide the possibility to turn on live captions for a video call.
- Allow customers to answer questions with text.
- Let the customer fully finish their sentences before answering the question.
- If a customer reads lips, speak clearly and slowly.
- Be ready to repeat any information as many times as necessary.
- Expand the team with support consultants speaking sign language.
Note: there are between 138-300 different sign languages. When providing service to customers with hearing difficulties, determine which one is the most widely-spread and use it correctly.
💛 SupportYourApp experience: One of our teams, supporting a photo editing software got frequent calls from an 80-year-old customer who had impaired hearing. Our customer-centric support consultants stayed on the phone with him for as long as the situation required. Even though it always took our team several hours, they got to the root of the issues and resolved them by being precise and patient.
The customer was always very grateful and satisfied with our resolution. He noted that other support providers always asked him to communicate with them over the email or a chat window, which wasn’t convenient for him. Our team was very pleased to help the customer and got priceless experience in the process.
How to Help Customers With Sight Difficulties or Blindness
- Provide voice-over tools to give every customer the possibility to use your website to the fullest extent.
- Greet them by saying your name and make sure they have enough time to get accustomed to the sound of your voice.
- Deliver information clearly.
- Never assume that a customer is totally blind. They might have a condition allowing them to see light or shapes only.
- Describe the changes that might occur after the issue is fixed. This way they will know about new functionality or interface features.
How to Help Customers With Speech Difficulties
- Ask a customer how they would like to be communicated with. In calls, they might use visual clues or special software tools to help them be more clear.
- Be patient and allow a customer to take as much time as they need to explain their issues.
- Never finish a sentence for the customer and never try to guess what they want to say. This will be very frustrating and could decrease their satisfaction.
- Never pretend to understand. If something is still not clear, ask them to repeat or explain the issue more clearly.
- If the customer is hard to understand, ask them to switch to another way of communication such as chat or email. Only switch if the customer has agreed to the change.
Providing support to customers with disabilities should be respectful, mindful, courteous and helpful.
Anna has been working as a writer for 6 years. She previously wrote about financial markets, conducting the research on the state of bonds and stocks on a daily basis. She is a keen reader with interest in historical literature and international cuisine. Her latest obsession — customer communication and ways to perfect it. If you want to connect with Anna, follow her on LinkedIn.Posted on