The Customer Service Standard of the AODA gives service providers guidelines on how to start making their goods, services, and facilities accessible to customers with disabilities. Some of these guidelines focus on service in-person. For instance, organizations must serve customers who visit with their service animals or support persons. However, organizations also provide accessible remote customer service. For instance, providers may serve customers by phone, by email, or through contact forms on their websites. Many guidelines in the Customer Service Standard apply to both in-person and remote service. For example, whether service providers deal with customers on-site or at a distance, they must:
- Train all workers to interact appropriately with customers who have disabilities
- Communicate in ways that take customers’ disabilities into account
- Deal with temporary disruptions to accessible services
- Receive and respond to feedback in accessible ways
To fulfill these requirements, providers must serve customers with disabilities as easily from a distance as they can in person.
Accessible Remote Customer Service
Service providers should advertise all the ways customers can contact them. For instance, on TV, radio, and flyers, providers should list their street, email, and web addresses, as well as phone and TTY numbers. Customers can then choose the best way to contact an organization. Furthermore, providers should create detailed descriptions of all their accessible features and services on their websites. Customers will want to support organizations who know about accessibility and take pride in their provision of service to all customers.
Guaranteeing Accessible Service
In addition, providers can find multiple contact methods helpful when parts of their organizations are inaccessible. In these situations, they can use other contact methods to guarantee accessible service. For instance, a customer might be able to browse a provider’s website but find the check-out portion inaccessible. The provider should work on making its website fully compliant with web content accessibility guidelines. In the meantime, the customer could call the provider to purchase the items they want. If the provider was offering an online discount, the discount should still apply, even though this customer is making their purchase by phone. Similarly, if a provider is implementing a telephone survey, it should offer to email customers the same survey questions upon request.
Providers are only offering truly accessible customer service when all customers can benefit from different ways of interacting with organizations. Therefore, providers should offer accessible remote customer service in as many different ways as they can.