Purple View Point
Disabled people have seen significant improvements in the physical environment, although there remains a lot to do. There is an increasing understanding around hidden impairments and a wider perception that disability is no longer only about wheelchair users and those who have visual or hearing impairments.
Purple believe the biggest barrier to unlocking the Purple Pound (the £249 billion disability consumer market) is a new approach to customer service. The approach is straightforward and is about the integration of disability into the existing development programmes and activities of businesses rather than a separate dedicated disability resource. This will also mean the cost of delivery should be minimal for business and with significant benefits. It is also about considering how you deliver customer services, both face to face and online.
As indicated above the disabled consumer market (the Purple Pound) equates to £249 billion and is rising. Less than 10% of businesses have targeted strategies to access this market. We know 75% of disabled people have left a shop or website homepage citing poor customer services.
A recent research study by Purple has shown that fear of poor customer services has a big impact in determining how, and the frequency in which, disabled people shop.
Most businesses deliver some form of customer services training and development but very few integrate issues of disability, which predominately remain a bespoke awareness programme with very little content or focus on customer service.
Advice & Guidance
- Consider how disabled people with different impairments and access needs can have the same customer service experience as all your customers, this could be around physical access and ensuring you have a wheelchair accessible changing room if you’re a clothes retailer for example, or digital access, and ensuring your website works with screen readers so those with visual impairments can purchase items from you online.
- Review your current customer service related activities to audit the extent to which disability is already included – our research tells us that fear of saying or doing the wrong thing often means people avoid engaging with disabled people leading to poor customer service.
- Undertake a survey or poll with staff to gauge their confidence with engaging with disabled customers and commit to upskilling where there are identified gaps
- If you are a large company consider the development of a ‘training the trainers’ programme to support the in-house training of your staff in disability confident customer services
- If you are a small company or you buy-in training, research the market for organisations who can deliver customer services which integrate disability/inclusion
- Produce materials and resources for staff to use as an aide memoir on an ongoing basis
- Consider running a survey/poll to find out what matters most to your customers and include a question around accessibility to gather information on their experiences
- Feature case studies of real life examples involving disabled people in your staff briefings/team meetings to encourage an open culture of inclusivity, build confidence and provide continuous improvement to your customer service approach
- Promote the accessibility of your company both in your physical environment (whether a shop or office) and on your website so potential disabled consumers know they are welcome and able to engage with your organisation