The importance of accessibility across CDPs for good customer experience

Customer experience

A staggering 14.6 million people in the UK were registered as having a disability in 2021, and 27.7 million UK adults fall under the definition of a vulnerable customer. Whether they are impacted by financial hardship, poor health, or a recent negative life event, this group – made up of all kinds of age groups and backgrounds – are regularly disadvantaged when trying to access everyday services. 

In fact, a huge number of vulnerable people struggle to get the customer support they need. As many as 90 percent of vulnerable customers struggled to access customer services in 2022, and over half (51%) felt they were treated unfairly when they managed to make contact, with their needs not accommodated for.

Sam Richardson, customer engagement consultant at Twilio, shares her advice on building accessibility into your customer data platform (CDP), and why it’s a business imperative in 2023…

Take an expansive view of your customer base

It is important to address the full range of factors that can create accessibility challenges, such as a user’s region, (dis)abilities, language, age, access to technology, economic status, and immediate environment. For example, older customers may feel shut out from digitally-led routes, those with visual impairments will require voice solutions, and neurodivergent customers may have difficulties with certain types of communications. 

It may seem simple, but it’s important to be open minded about who your end customer may be – something many brands fall short of doing. We cannot make sweeping generalisations and assume customers have the same needs when it comes to mediums of interaction. In other words, brands should consider the range of individual factors (whether permanent or temporary) and situational contexts that may affect vulnerable customers and their ability to get in touch.

Provide options and autonomy of choice

After taking steps to understand their customer base, brands need to respond and provide a breadth of communications options that cater to the various life experiences, challenges, and barriers customers face. Gone are the days when a call centre alone would suffice – brands need to expand to more mediums. By doing so, users will have the autonomy to make individual choices that are relevant to their circumstances, putting them in the driver’s seat.

It’s also important to clearly display these options so they are equally accessible. The user journey to find a contact email address or phone number, for example, should not be so difficult and convoluted that customers are forced to resort to another route, or to give up or entirely. 

Shockingly, over half (52%) of vulnerable customers reported having to abandon attempts to solve their problem due to the difficulties they encountered, showing just how exclusionary customer service currently is for disadvantaged or vulnerable customers, and the scale of brands who are inhibiting customers’ ability to use a brand. Ultimately, pushing a customer down another contact route, or providing no options at all, does nothing for customer loyalty and satisfaction.

Connection crisis – remember to stay human

Brands must make sure that, in the race to become more digitally driven, they don’t ignore the need to stay human. We understandably get excited about new digital offerings that enhance customers’ interactions with a brand or offer greater choice of options, but we can’t underestimate the need for human interaction. Indeed, while these innovations are game changers for some, they can be intimidating and perhaps even exclusionary for others. 

Maintaining a people-first approach across communications not only keeps the authentic, human focus front and centre, but also doesn’t exclude the demographic of people who are averse to digital routes, or do not have the physical hardware to support it.

Provide personalised, data-driven customer service

Contact centre staff must be set up with the tools for success. This means providing the ability to switch between channels as needed to improve accessibility for customers and encourage dialogue. Detailed customer profiles should pull in first-party data from any source, with data integrated with systems including ERPs, inventory management, and billing systems.

Of course, not everything can be solved by technology, and contact centre staff will also need to receive training on inclusivity so they can address customer challenges on a case-by-base basis.

Continue to evolve and improve

Providing accessibility is not a tick box exercise or a nice to have. Brands should seek to understand the requirements of their customers on an ongoing basis, finding out about their challenges and encouraging direct feedback. In our everyday lives, we are always learning and expanding our knowledge about ways we can be more inclusive – and brands are no different. 

These groups make up a considerable portion of the population, and therefore potential customer base, and brands have a responsibility to cater to their needs. Creating a more accessible experience will also create more loyal customers, with brands able to reap the rewards if done successfully. Offering appropriate contact options and personalisation is therefore a non-negotiable for brands looking to deliver best-in-class customer engagement and drive growth.