PART 1: Understanding Your Deaf Customer Journey

This week’s blog is the first in a four-part series starting with Understanding your Deaf Customer Journey, which will help you deliver optimal customer experience to deaf customers whilst wearing face masks.

Understanding your deaf customer journey


We know that customers have a higher level of loyalty when provided with high levels of customer experience.  There is a huge opportunity to turn around feelings of anxiety during a Pandemic – an even greater opportunity to build customer loyalty.

Creating a standout experience right now could lead to SUPER LOYALTY.

Wearing face masks could compromise this for deaf customers.

Let’s give you some insight into what it is like as a deaf customer.

So to kick us off, I want to share a little story with you….

By Smash (Age 11)

“Picture this: It’s an ordinary day at school. You see a girl. A pretty girl. Depending on your sex chromosome, you will probably either think: “Wowza!” or “BFF!”

You then go into the classroom, bag the best spot by the window and start drawing a new comic. The same girl comes in and sits down in the spot in front of the teacher’s desk. Suddenly the bell rings, and the Big Cheese comes in.

As she walks towards her desk, the girl goes up to her. They mumble for a while, then the girl hands the teacher a small black lump with a clip at the end, and you can’t help overhearing,” Please clip the microphone to your top.” The girl then sits down and adjusts something behind her ear.

Your brain explodes like a bomb! Is she a spy? a gangster? Or perhaps 009?

You make yourself as small as possible and try not to get noticed.
Well? is she really one of the above?

No, she’s just a deaf girl wanting to hear what’s going on around her, as normal as it gets.

This kind of thing is a typical problem that many kids face in regular private and mainstream schools. Students judge each other so it’s actually incredibly hard for deaf people to fit in with the others.

We’re called names like “Dummy” or “Weirdo” and we just don’t seem to get along with the students – and aren’t usually the teachers’ favourites. “

Now let’s move onto the next part of Smash’s life. These have been her experiences at school. At the age of 16, she will go to College and, at 18, University.

In these settings, she will most likely have a similar experience.

    • She will then go on to get a job where she will be the only deaf person in the team.
    • She goes to order a coffee and the Barista turns around whilst still talking.
    • Then she goes into her bank to query a transaction, she struggles to communicate sufficiently with bank staff and has to write everything down.
    • When waiting for a train and a platform announcement is made over the tannoy, everyone moves to another platform and she wonders why she is the only one left on the platform.

It started in school and still continues everyday for many deaf people. Regularly facing communication barriers.

Now add to the past – the concern over going into shops and other businesses and not being able to communicate due to the wearing of face coverings.

This should give you an insight into the challenges that deaf people face accessing everyday services.

Now what?

In order to improve how you serve deaf customers, you will need to take a look at your customer journey.

Firstly, look at the touch points and then identify the sticking points – those areas within the journey that are likely to be particularly tricky for a deaf customer to navigate.

If we look at Frontline as an example.

Here are questions to ask yourself to find these:

  1. What is the first impression for the customer upon entering the store?
  2. What is that first interaction like for the customer?
  3. Do you find it is rushed or is time given?
  4. Can your colleagues consciously maintain eye contact?
  5. What happens when communication doesn’t work?
  6. Is there a backup strategy if verbal communication fails?
  7. Do you have music on in the background?
  8. Is this a noisy environment?

These questions are true whether we look at face-to-face interaction or in a contact centre environment.

Where would you also consider reviewing your IVR for ease of use. Take a look at our article talking you through the process.

Next week we will talk about the second part – which is solutions…..