Imagine your agents providing stellar customer service to only 75% of your customer base. Yikes! Every contact center manager works hard to ensure agents provide excellent service, and yet, this will be your reality if you don’t create an accessible contact center. That’s right—25% of Americans are people with disabilities. That’s why all call centers should be prioritizing accessibility and creating a plan to ensure all customers can access your services, and that all agents have the tools they need to succeed at work.
Accessible Customer Service
In some ways, it may have been easier to deliver accessible customer service in person, in the days before customer service agents assisted clients from a call center. Back then, if your agents noticed someone was hard of hearing, they could immediately provide them with written materials. If they noticed someone with a vision impairment, they might describe things in greater detail without relying on images or printed materials.
But today’s contact centers have a more significant gap between agents and customers. What does that mean? It means leaders must consider individuals with disabilities in every customer service process. Contact centers aren’t accessible by default—accessibility must be discussed, designed, and implemented. It’s a process that benefits everyone.
We’ll cover what accessibility looks like for agents and customers, and how to create an accessible call center.
What is an Accessible Call Center?
Accessibility means equal access for all people. For a call center, that means ensuring:
- All your customers can access your services.
- All staff and agents can access workplace facilities and tech easily.
- All aspiring staff members can access your recruitment process.
How to Improve Call Center Accessibility
It takes time to create an accessible call center, but you can start now with these actionable tips:
Step 1: Train Agents to Provide Accessible Service
Prepare your agents to provide accessible customer service before they hit the floor. Include accessibility training modules in your onboarding and training, and offer refresher meetings and courses to maintain a standard. Your training should include both technical and emotional training. Call center agents should learn to lead with empathy while fostering problem-solving skills to navigate and troubleshoot assistive devices and tech.
Hire an accessibility consultant to provide a presentation and take Qs and As from your agents.
Step 2: Offer Customers Human Access
Yes, we know how far IVR has come. Today, it’s conversational, targeted, and omnichannel. But what if a person with a disability can’t read or hear all the IVR options? What if their motor skills can’t accommodate a long wait time? We recommend always offering the option to speak to a human. And if you’re facing high call volumes, try Fonolo’s Voice Call-Backs. This lowers the risk of putting people with disabilities in uncomfortable situations and allows them the autonomy to speak with a contact center agent.
Step 3: Provide Assistive Devices to Call Center Agents
How much of your budget goes toward accessible tech? If the answer is 0, you have a lot of work to do as a call center leader. Remember the 25% figure we quoted about Americans with disabilities? That applies to your agents, too. Here are some assistive devices you might consider introducing to your contact center:
- Screen readers: A screen reader reads out text and describes images. These devices help visually impaired call center agents work on a computer.
- Standing desks: All agents can benefit from desks allowing them the option to stand while working. A standing desk can help mitigate the back pain or tension that comes with some physical disabilities.
- Spell checkers: Learning disabilities like dyslexia make it hard for agents to spell words correctly. Subscribe to spell-check programs or consider Fonolo’s Visual IVR for proofread, automated messages.
Step 4: Create Accessibility means Equal Opportunities in the Call Center
Diversity doesn’t just apply to race or gender—it includes people with disabilities, too. Hiring people with disabilities will help you connect more with your customer base and improve agent empathy. Specifically encourage candidates with disabilities to apply to your listings and include accessibility questions in your interview process.
Step 5: Encourage Honest Feedback
Monitor your progress towards creating an accessible call center by asking agents and customers for feedback. Include accessibility questions in multiple contact points: