Accessibility is an important consideration for all businesses for several reasons. Allowing customers to reach your product or service is key to achieving fundamental business objectives. Furthermore, focusing on accessibility is a big part of building your customer experience.
However, accessibility must be considered in greater detail for customers with disabilities. It is imperative that reasonable adjustments are made to accommodate those with disabilities in your business or workplace, whether it be for the benefit of staff or customers. For example, these adjustments could be in the form of providing ramps or lifts to gain access to the building, or ensuring clear disability signs highlight specialist facilities like toilets or parking areas. Accessibility for all is important for your business, but why?
Disability in the UK
First it is helpful to consider the facts and figures. There a roughly 14.1 million disabled people in the UK – meaning that 1 in 5 people have some sort of disability. More specifically, 19% of working age adults and 46% of pension age adults are disabled. Analysis from disability charity, Scope, estimated the total spending power of families with 1 disabled member or more to be around £274 billion a year. These figures not only highlight the need for disability support and infrastructure in the UK, but also the importance of the disabled population in a commercial sense.
From a purely business management perspective, accommodating disabled customers through accessibility measures should be a priority for several reasons – read on to find out why.
It’s your moral and legal duty
First of all, it should be your moral duty to try to offer your products and services to everyone, regardless of the barriers they may face. Furthermore, the Equality Act 2010 states that businesses and organisations must take reasonable steps to overcome the challenges faced by those who are disabled, in order to offer them (if possible) the same experience as someone who is not. If you’re unsure of what a ‘reasonable’ adjustment entails, then doing some research can help to highlight what you can do.
Maximise your potential customer base
It makes little commercial sense in most industries to marginalise any demographic or market segment, so those with disabilities should be equally catered for. If your business is not disability-friendly with regards to accessibility and facilities then you are automatically limiting your potential customer base and could be impacting your success.
Improve your customer experience
A business that welcomes and actively supports customers with disabilities will massively improve their customer experience for those impacted. Customer experience is vitally important for brand loyalty and repeat sales, so again, it makes commercial sense to optimise the customer experience for all. Word-of-mouth marketing can also be effective when your customer experience is optimised for all customers.
More attractive workplace
An accessible, diverse and equal workplace is also an attractive workplace for those with disabilities. Accommodating potential and existing disabled staff will increase your talent pool and create a better work environment for all involved. Once more, reasonable adjustments should be made to accommodate disabled staff and this can encompass working schedules, equipment and accessibility.
Help your brand image
Inclusivity and equality are important factors to consider when it comes to marketing. Insensitivity to customer requirements or needs can quickly become detrimental to your branding through thoughts and posts on social media. Furthermore, with online reviews accessible to everyone, bad feedback can deter people from using your products or services which can be disastrous for your business. Brand image shouldn’t be the first reason to implement accessibility measures, but it can somewhat help to avoid a PR nightmare.
Ensuring that your business is disability-friendly and accessible can have a number of benefits for your customers and staff. Making reasonable adjustments to support those with disabilities should be your moral duty, however there are also a number of commercial benefits to consider. With relatively little extra expenditure, you can accommodate those customers with disabilities and make your workplace a diverse, equal and inclusive environment – which will only benefit your business in the long term. How will you go about making your business more accessible?