Why Accessibility And Inclusivity In Customer Experiences Matter

Today more than ever, customers are holding brands to higher ethical standards, and are more likely to trust brands that are committed to championing inclusivity across their businesses.

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Accessibility is often thought of in terms of physical access in the built environment, perhaps automatic sliding doors, or a wheelchair-friendly ramp. But it goes far beyond that. Barriers faced by those with disabilities, health conditions, or special needs are found at every turn, both in physical and digital worlds.

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Inclusivity and accessibility go hand in hand. I frequently hear companies talk about inclusivity at the workplace, through diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) policies. While this is certainly important, businesses must also extend these principles to their customers.

It's a simple strategy –one that keeps customers at the beating heart of a business– but more challenging to implement. It requires commitment and action from the top-down, percolating through all business functions from communications and sales, to customer service and after-sale service.

Keeping customers at the core means ensuring that no one from your audience is neglected. This must include people of determination. There are subtle but significant changes that a company can make to create an accessible and inclusive customer experience, regardless of age, background, or physical or mental abilities.

Setting an example of cohesive community development, the UAE government launched the National Policy for Empowering People of Determination in 2017. This policy looks to create an inclusive society for people of determination and their families, from health and rehabilitation to vocational training. But empowering people of determination can't just be a public sector mandate; the private sector must step up as well.

For a start, training employees to engage with people of determination while protecting their dignity, or reviewing how people of determination access your goods, services, or facilities the same way as other customers can. These are crucial changes that can support those with mobility challenges, cognitive disabilities, and hearing or visual impairments.

Source: Purple Tuesday

Recognizing the value and responsibility of building a more inclusive and accessible business, Zurich International Life (Middle East) has partnered with Purple Tuesday, a global social movement and brand working to improve the customer experience for disabled people and their families.

Through this partnership, Zurich supports Purple Tuesday by raising awareness among its employees of the value of people of determination, and influencing improvements to the customer experience for this critical segment. Frontline staff will undergo training to understand the needs of people of determination and serve them better. Moreover, the Zurich Purple Advocacy Group will be created for customers who've recently developed disabilities to share their journey, needs, and how Zurich as a brand can support them.

Organizations that work collaboratively with Purple Tuesday also benefit from their services such as a digital accessibility audit, a built environment access audit, and customer service training.

The statistics reveal a strong case for ensuring accessible and inclusive customer service. According to Purple Tuesday, people of determination represent 17% of the world's population. Their spending power is estimated to be worth US$8 trillion, with a forecast of a 14% increase per year. And yet, three-quarters of people of determination and their families have walked away from a business because of poor accessibility or customer service.

Today more than ever, customers are holding brands to higher ethical standards, and are more likely to trust brands that are committed to championing inclusivity across their businesses.

It is time to examine your company internally and externally through the lens of consideration and sincerity. Companies can become a tipping point for the change we need, to close the inequality gap faced by people of determination. We have an opportunity to do what is right, unlock the potential within the purple sector, and strive toward a fairer and just society.

Related: Changing The Narrative: Touch Co-Founders Jean Winter And Jessica Smith Are "Pushing For An Inclusive Paradigm Shift"