Many organisations seeking to gain insights into how customers feel about their products, services, brand and customer touchpoints organise a formal “Voice of the Customer” (VoC) programme. This gathers customer feedback, opinions and other data which can then be analysed to identify trends and get a much better understanding of customer sentiment, allowing for any improvements to be made.
A strong VoC programme needs to consider the views and seek understanding of your entire customer base, reflecting the diversity of your customers. This means that it is absolutely essential that you get feedback and collect data on customers who have potential issues with accessibility. With digital touchpoints forming a major part of customer experience, digital accessibility is an increasingly important issue.
It is very likely that customers who have some form of disability will form a significant number of people who access your services, use your products or visit your website. Their views are important.
However, many teams underestimate the extent of customers with disabilities. All too often VoC programmes do not consider or do not place enough emphasis on accessibility as an angle to either seek customer feedback or to gather data on. There can be reasons for this; types of disability are diverse, but there can also be an ignorance about digital accessibility that means it does not get the attention that it should do.
Gathering customer feedback relating to accessibility has two main advantages:
If you do have a formal or VoC programme or similar initiative, or even something far less formal, here are some ways you can potentially include digital accessibility within it.
An obvious way to find out the opinions of those with disabilities is to create a specific customer group or forum dedicated to accessibility. This is probably the most direct way to understand the views and experiences of people with disabilities and to get responses to specific questions. Detailed feedback about people’s experiences – both good and bad – reflected in direct quotes can also resonate strongly with stakeholders, often more so than statistics and numbers.
Customer surveys are a common component of VoC programmes. If you are using a customer survey tool you can also ensure you include questions about accessibility. In most survey tools it is possible to ask additional questions based on the answer a person gives for one section; this means you can target additional questions about accessibility to anyone indicating it is an issue for them. If you are using a survey tool, make sure it is accessible!
Most accessibility statements on a website contain contact details and information on how to report accessibility issues. This can be a potential good source of information to feed into your VoC programme although the ‘report issues’ slant can be negative; however you can potentially can offer other options to report accessibility-related feedback (good or bad) including a form, an email address or a number to call. Make sure you include details on your accessibility statement.
Contact forms or feedback forms can be a useful source of customer feedback. If your website form has specific categories on it for the user to choose so feedback gets sent to the right person to deal with it or to gather statistics, make sure you add accessibility as a subject category on the form. This will help you gather feedback and encourage people to report their experiences.
Customer service agents either on telephone calls or even in live chat may well receive feedback about the accessibility of your digital channels through their interactions, even if the focus of the call or chat is about something else. Unless there is an easy place to record this feedback and be able to categorise it as relating to accessibility then it is unlikely to be gathered and analysed. Configuring the systems your customer service agents use may well be necessary.
Of course, if you have a VoC programme and you want it cover digital accessibility then you need to make sure that is covered in your reporting processes and related outputs. This can then prove to be an excellent way of getting improving accessibility on the agenda.
Again, it goes without saying that any feedback mechanisms used to gather customer feedback in your VoC programme must be accessible!
Improving accessibility is important for many reasons – commercial, ethical, legal, regulatory, user experience and more. When you gather data and feedback about accessibility from customers as part of a VoC programme or just more informally, it can help you to understand the real experience of this important demographic. This in turn can provide the focus, momentum and motivation to drive improvements in digital accessibility that have a plethora of benefits for organisations.