Bad customer service or the lack of excellent customer service can make or break a company. It can be the sole reason for someone not utilizing a particular company or it can be a big part of the reason that someone continues to partake in a service.

The majority of companies advertise a front greeter to answer your questions or grocery stores might pride themselves on attempting to acknowledge every customer an employee might see while shopping. A lot of business rely on a positive “word-of-mouth” referrals. If a customer has a great experience with your brand, there is no reason for them to look elsewhere. This is all something we know and use to our advantage to keep customers loyal and it is really just the right thing to do and it is free advertising.

Unfortunately, there are some people who do not receive good customer service and there are many of them out there. People with disabilities as customers it has been documented that there are approximately 23 million people with disabilities that are employed in the United States. They make up a large part of contributing to the economy and they have friends and loved ones that listen to the problems they face. They take a personal interest in disabilities, accessibility, and are likely to make purchases that align with their values. It is imperative to use what is called “person-first service” which basically is that you see the person first not their disability. Look them in the eye and speak to them directly if possible, not just the person accompanying them.

Every company needs accessible customer service for both customers and employees. This not only speaks of physically being in an establishment but also websites. This is especially important because if someone with a disability is unable to communicate while attempting to access information on a web site, they are likely to leave and never return due to it failed to meet their needs.

When speaking of accessibility requirements of a web site should include at minimal elements like captions for all videos, sufficient color contrast, alt text for images, compatibility with assistive technology this would include a screen reader, and keyboard accessibility. People with disabilities should be able to navigate a site with ease and without the frustration that accompanies a poorly written web site.  In the begging of a search on a web site if it does not flow easily for a person with disabilities or if they can’t make a general customer service inquiry, they are likely to leave and shop somewhere else.

There are several ways to make customer service more accessible when it comes to assisting the disabled person on the web. Many people do not mind using email or contact forms, but others would rather use a faster method such as live chat and phone calls. It is always best to utilize several different methods and give the disabled a choice of how they would like to communicate.

Another vital concern is the lack of ability to find customer service options. A web site should have a clear way of obtaining customer service information. A good way to do this is proper labeling and positioning the customer service help icon in a position that is easy to locate.  It should be not only easy to make a purchase, but it should easily accessible to find help due to many people go to a web site specifically for assistance.

Finally training the customer service representatives of the special needs of persons with disabilities. They should be familiar with the different ways people can access the field questions, have knowledge of assistive technology, they should be trained on a respectful language and sensitivity and be able to guide them when there are issues. It is beneficial that the employees make someone with challenges feel the dignity they deserve because not only is it a respectful thing to do but also demonstrates they value the company they represent.