We all have a moral responsibility to help others with a disability to participate in society, and also a legal one not to discriminate against people with a disability.
Under the Disability Discrimination Act in Australia it is illegal to treat someone a person with a disability less favourably than a person without the disability in the same or similar circumstances. For example, it would be direct disability discrimination for a blind person to be refused entry to a restaurant because they have a guide dog. It may be considered indirect discrimination if they only way to enter a public building is by a set of stairs because people who require wheelchair access would be unable to enter the building. Particular areas of public life covered by the Act concern employment, education, accommodation, getting or using services and access to public places. To read more on this go to https://www.humanrights.gov.au/know-your-rights-disability-discrimination.
Legalities aside, it’s always worth trying to consider how your customer engage with you, including those with disabilities, and if you use an outsourced contact centre, to consider what they can do to assist on your behalf.
The Australian Government offers an excellent free National Relay Service for people with a hearing or speech impairment. Using a Teletypewriter hearing or speech impaired people can make calls or receive calls using the keyboard and monitor on their TTY device with a Relay Officer providing the voice interface. From the point of view of the business or contact centre that they call, it’s just like a normal call, although a bit slower as communications are relayed back and forth. Should your contact centre need to call back the caller, however, agents need to know that the caller uses TTY (sometimes you may get a message on their phone to this effect, or just a fax tone, or nothing at all) and how to access the TTY service. This is mostly a training issue, not a cost issue, that we can all factor into our business operations to assist people with these disabilities. In Australia all you need to do is call 136677 and ask to be put through to the TTY user phone number.
Having a hearing impairment doesn’t necessarily mean that you are deaf, of course. A core part of Customer Service training is to pitch your communications to the customer; it may be enough to speak slowly, clearly and a bit louder than usual to communicate with a person with a hearing impairment.
Another approach is to offer online help such as Live Chat on your website. Again, your contact centre can assist with this. Usually there’s a monthly access fee for the service and then it’s on usage; it may not cost much to have in place. (This is a service that we can offer you at Well Done.)
For the vision impaired, contact centre support becomes even more important. Here the training focus must be on patience, empathy and clear explanations; it’s not enough just to refer to or recite from the website. Similarly, customers with a learning or intellectual disability can still need to call for assistance, and training staff to have the patience to try to explain things in a variety of ways without being judgmental is key. Someone who has trouble taking in what they are told may need some extra prompting to note the information down, and more time to process this. Agents need training and experience to recognise this kind of disability as it’s not something most people will announce upfront; normal courtesy gives both parties a little time to assess each other’s communication style and a slow rate of exchange is often a vital clue.
A number of our clients support customers with a disability. Well Done agents regularly interact with callers from the broad spectrum of the general public. If you have any concerns about customer service delivery to your client base and would like to know more about outsourced contact centre services, please contact our Sales Team on 1300 551 796 or make an enquiry on the website contact form for follow through.