As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, we cheer ourselves by thinking of future socializing in-person. We also think about returning to work or activities we love. These hopes help us through the challenges of physical distancing. Moreover, these challenges show us that we can be more flexible or more creative than we thought we could. For instance, retail stores and other organizations have adapted to physical distancing requirements during the pandemic. Many of these adaptations are also practices that make customer service more accessible for customers with disabilities. In the post-COVID-19 future, more people may recognize the value of adapting service to meet customers’ diverse needs. For example, more service providers may offer high-quality AODA customer service training after the COVID-19 pandemic.
AODA Customer Service Training After the COVID-19 Pandemic
As service providers encourage customers to stay home and contact them remotely, they are changing their ways of doing business. For instance, providers may be:
- Expanding their businesses online
- Posting more online flyers or advertisements
- Communicating more often by phone or email
In addition, service providers are offering more options for:
- Events or interactions through video-conferencing
In short, service providers have quickly begun to learn and practice new ways of serving and communicating with customers. Moreover, the leaders or supervisors of these organizations have trained their staff to follow new procedures, such as:
- Requiring customers to maintain physical distancing
- Supporting customers as they operate technology, such as websites or self-check-outs
In the same way, service providers can adapt just as proactively to provide their staff with high-quality training on best practices for serving customers with disabilities.
Current Requirements for AODA Customer Service Training
Under the Customer Service Standards of the AODA, service providers must teach workers and volunteers how to provide goods and services to customers with disabilities. Training must cover the following topics:
- The purpose of the AODA
- Requirements of the Customer Service Standard
- How to communicate with customers in ways that take their disabilities into account
- How to interact with customers who have:
- How to use any devices or equipment the provider may have to help customers access goods or services
- How to assist a customer having difficulty accessing goods or services
Moreover, providers may train workers using various formats, including:
- Interactive workshops
- Classroom settings
- Online courses
The variety of training options allows providers to create their own training that relates AODA principles to the day-to-day activities in their organizations. For instance, restaurants may receive training on communicating that may include reading menus aloud or taking orders in writing.
However, this variety may create differences in the quality of the training workers receive. For instance, the different possible formats lend themselves to different levels of knowledge. A worker who attends a classroom session on accessibility will talk about course content with other trainees. This worker will likely gain much more understanding than a worker who is given a handout and does not look at it again. Moreover, there is no test requirement or other way of evaluating that a trainee has fully understood what accessibility means in their sector.
Improving Training Quality
Since customers with disabilities are increasing, AODA customer service training must meet these customers’ needs. In the past, service providers may have offered lower-quality training for many reasons, such as:
- Lack of time
- Lack of experience with people who have disabilities
However, providers have now succeeded in making the time to train their staff on new COVID-19 protocols. Moreover, leaders and supervisors have overcome their own lack of experience with these new protocols in order to train workers. These leaders and supervisors have researched or consulted experts to develop solutions to the problems the pandemic has posed for their businesses. Therefore, leaders and supervisors can continue to use these strategies in order to offer high-quality AODA customer service training after the COVID-19 pandemic.