Here in New Zealand, and around the globe, people are using online platforms to access goods, services and information more than ever before. If your online platform is not accessible to everyone, you’ll miss out on customers, revenue, reputation and brand equity. And accessibility starts with customer service.
Research shows that excellent customer service is the number one enabler of accessibility. In an online environment, this translates to ensuring that your website and online shopping portal is accessible to all, and ensuring your online customer support is available to all customers, including customers with disabilities and access needs.
By ensuring your online experience is accessible, and in particular, ensuring all your customers have support when they need it, you’ll make all customers feel welcomed and valued. You’ll tap into the access market, the world’s largest untapped market opportunity, and in so doing gain a reputation for accessibility which in turn will increase brand equity and loyalty in all demographics. You’ll also make your products and services easier to access for all users, including those with limited English (in so-doing, you’ll open your website up to a global market).
Accessible online customer support is so important, but so often forgotten, that we thought the topic deserved a blog all of its own! Follow our top tips below to make sure you welcome all customers, and support them in their online journey.
Diversity- As always, remember that your customers have diverse needs. There is no “typical” customer, so there will be no “one-size-fits-all”solution.
Easy to find- Make your help/support and contact options clear and easy to find. Accessible contact details will increase sales across the board, not just with customers with access needs.
We recommend having this information in the header and footer of each page.
Multiple options- Ensure you provide multiple ways to access support, as there is no one format that will suit all users.
In order to consider all users, add e-mail, phone, Skype and live chat options.
Live chat accessibility- some customers with access needs may prefer to use your Live chat function- so when choosing which live chat app to add to your website, ensure its accessible.
If the live-chat has real-time chat translation you will be able to talk to customers for whom English is a second language, allowing them to chat back in their first language.
Staff Training - Include accessibility training to ensure your staff are confident with assisting customers with disabilities.
Flexibility- Your staff training should include ensuring staff are prepared to listen to different access issues, and being flexible in finding solutions that work for individual customers.
Customer preferences- Record details about customers’ preferred contact method, delivery and click and collect requests. This will ensure your customers' needs are considered in every interaction and transaction.
Accessibility information- your website should have an easy-to-find accessibility information page. This will provide your customers with information about how accessible your business is (and can include things such as accessible entrances, toilets, parking, services and more).
Include information on this page about how to access support if your customers are having difficulties with finding the information they need, or using your website.
Accessibility support- Some businesses have a dedicated phone or e-mail option to provide support to customers with access needs in navigating the physical store, website, and online shopping platform.
Improve experiences- seek feedback and listen to it, and maintain a continuous improvement approach.
This is key to ensuring all your customers have great experiences interacting with your business both online, and in real life.
If you’d like support to assess the accessibility of your digital platform using best practice guidelines the Be. Lab team can help. We can provide expert advice to help you improve usability and functionality of your online shopping site.
We also offer leadership and culture programmes to enhance your business strategy and build your team's confidence in creating environments for accessibility to flourish.
To get in touch with our team to discuss your needs today, e-mail email@example.com
Or to find out more about what we offer, view our full list of services.