Customers with disabilities may require some accommodations to make it easier for them to access your products or services. Making sure that your business is accessible is not only good business but also the right thing to do. There are many easy ways to make your company more accommodating to disabled patrons. By following these six tips, you'll be well on your way to an inclusive space.
1. Have Clear Signage
If you have an entrance that is wheelchair accessible, be sure to clearly mark it as such. It is important that your customers know when they pull up that they have an option to get into the store. Especially if they must use an alternate entrance, it will be helpful to know where it is most convenient to park when they arrive. You should also include signage within the store advising of other wheelchair-friendly options, such as restrooms, a specific checkout area, or accessible counters or tables. Your customers will have a much more comfortable experience if they don't have to ask for special accommodations because they are already available.
2. Offer Self-Serve Options
Having the flexibility to allow for customer self service for any of your products or services will give all of your clientele the freedom to shop their way. If you can offer the option of online services or orders, disabled customers can utilize this instead of having to take a time-consuming trip to your location. You can also offer self-serve options within the store, but be sure to make them accessible for all of your customers. Make sure that self-service machines are low enough that patrons in wheelchairs can access them.
3. Create A Friendly Space
Make sure that when you are planning your space, that you consider the needs of your disabled customers. Aisles should be wide enough to comfortably navigate with a walker or wheelchair. Ensure that you have at least some counters that are low enough to access from a seated position. Keep these counters clear of display items or signage clogging them up so that they can be easily used. You should also try to ensure there are no steps or gaps in flooring to make it difficult to travel across.
4. Train Your Employees
Provide training to your staff so that they know exactly how to interact with customers with disabilities. They may encounter patrons with a variety of needs so they should be prepared on how to properly and respectfully accommodate them. Employees may need to read menus or signs to blind customers or pass notes with those hard of hearing. They should have the knowledge and materials to do this available at all times. Make sure that your employees know that they should ask the customer if they need help before they assume in order to avoid offending them.
5. Offer Privacy
Some disabled customers may prefer a private space, especially if special accommodations are needed. Offer an area that is handicap accessible where you or your staff can assist the customer away from high-traffic areas of the store. You and the customer should be able to communicate clearly without distractions in order to avoid frustration. These customers may also require some extra time to express their needs, so be sure that your employees are able to be patient and understanding.
6. Be Open-Minded
There are bound to be customer needs that you haven't been able to foresee in advance. Make sure you consider any special requests and fulfill them if you are able. Some modifications may be legally required, which means you must figure out some way of accommodating them. Even if the requirement is not a legal obligation, your flexibility and understanding will go a long way toward building a good reputation for your business.
Creating a business that is inclusive to all potential consumers will help to create a long-term relationship with your community while also building a larger customer base. Following these tips will put your business in a position to attract all the customers you can.