Develop universal customer service policies and procedures


By developing a universal customer service policy, an organisation can ensure that universal design receives the attention and respect it requires amongst all levels of staff. Such a policy will outline the vision and goals that the organisation strives to achieve in addressing the needs of customers with disabilities.

Procedures can be defined on the basis of this policy. An organisation that has consistent procedures in place on how to address the needs of customers with disabilities will provide higher quality customer service.

I decided to go with my current digital tv provider
due to the number of channels available and they appear to take accessibility
more seriously than other providers. As they have an accessibility department
that can answer questions, plus they add a lot of audio description to much of
their programming. Plus with my old provider, i found their service

guidelines survey respondent.

Identifying the legal requirements applicable to your organisation in relation to accessibility and usability of products and services for people with disabilities is important and can act as an effective driver for change internally.

It is impossible to identify the needs and wishes of your customers without talking directly to your customers and the organisations that represent them. Establishing a formal dialogue with customers and with representative organisations is crucial.

In order for an organisation to successfully address universal design, it needs also to ensure that any services or systems it procures are accessible and usable. If elements of the customer service that are outsourced to other companies (such as management of customer orders, or management of a website) do not successfully address the needs of your customers, this will counteract the efforts made by your own organisation.

The guy who came to my house to install the tv tried
To be helpful but unfortunately the device was inaccessible.

The service guys were great and
Tried to help me as best they could with totally inaccessible

I received accessibility
Information from the accessibility department of my digital tv provider. It was
quite useful when i had an issue with service. However, no information on how to
make the box more accessible apart from how to turn on audio description was

guidelines survey respondents.

Directions and techniques

Produce a universal customer service policy (high priority)

A universal customer service policy should demonstrate the organisation’s commitment to take the issue of universal design seriously at the earliest stages. Guidance on how to produce a universal customer service policy in the context of the energy provision industry in Ireland is currently under development and when published will provide a framework for developing a customer service policy that meets the needs of the widest range of users possible.

Identify legal requirements (high priority)

Staff should have a full appreciation of the legal requirements of meeting (and failing to meet) the needs of customers, in particular those with specific requirements such as persons with disabilities..

Consult with customers

When developing customer service strategies or product information, consult with consumer groups and customers representing a wide range of users needs. Specific guidance on consulting with persons with disabilities and their representative organisations consultation can be found in the National Disability Authority guidelines ‘ask me: guidelines for effective consultation with people with disabilities’.

Develop a customer service handbook

A customer service handbook is an internal document for the use of management, maintenance personnel and new staff to ensure consistency in the quality of the service the organisation provides to all customers. This can be presented as a sub-section of a larger employee handbook or a policy and procedures manual.

It should include the following:

  • The overall universal customer service
  • Universal customer service policies and procedures for
    each area of operation. for example, premises that are open to the public,
    telephone support lines, electronic communications (websites, email, etc.),
    products with particular universal design features, procedures for addressing
    customers with specific needs.
  • Contact details of members of staff who will act as the
    point of contact for queries that require specialist knowledge such as those
    relating to content access services so that such queries are dealt with properly
    and consistently.

Specify universal design in procurements

To ensure that externally supplied products or services also meet universal design criteria, these should be specified as a requirement during the tendering or commissioning process.

Those responsible for procurements in an organisation can refer to the NDA it procurement toolkit, which outlines the various stages of procurement and where universal design should be addressed.