Last week we started our 4-part series on Understanding your deaf customer journey.
Now that you have identified those sticking points within the customer journey, the next stage is finding solutions based on your business model and how you interact with your customers.
To kick off, here are a number of simple things that can be done to improve the experience:
- Maintain eye contact
- Reduce or remove background music
- Consider other methods of communication
Now onto some solutions:
Loop systems can also be useful in these situations. Oftentimes, deaf people feedback that despite loop systems being in place, they are not switched on and therefore not in use.
If you have a loop system in place, do make sure that it is maintained on a regular basis.
This is one of the more intuitive tweaks that can be made.
There are also some initiatives that have come from the community as well.
Either from individuals who have identified the need or organisations and charities who support and advocate for deaf people.
Transparent face masks
I am sure that you would have seen an image like this – of a transparent mask.
These have been designed by a number of individuals and organisations to try and resolve the issues over communication.
Here are two providers of transparent face masks that you can look into:
Molly Watt Trust – https://www.molly-watt-trust.org/shop – these have a larger transparent panel
Friendly Face Masks – https://www.friendlyfacemasks.co.uk
Cards that state “My hidden disability makes me exempt from wearing a face covering”
Badges that state “I am a lipreader”
There have been a number of charities producing these items for customers to wear. This helps bring awareness and will avoid the customer having to explain why they are not wearing a face covering.
The sunflower lanyard is a lanyard that a customer would wear in order to identify themselves as having a hidden disability. This scheme started in the aviation industry. These are discrete and allow your colleagues to be alerted to the fact that a customer may need to communicate differently.
They are now being used across airports, some airlines and more recently some supermarkets including Sainsbury’s and Tesco.
A little more about hidden disabilities
Customers who are deaf and have a hearing loss would fall into the category of a “hidden disability” but may not consider themselves as being disabled.
Not a catch-all
If you are using schemes like this – you need to remember it will not be a catch as some customers will not want to be wearing something that ‘identifies’ them.
This is certainly a scheme that would prove beneficial for deaf customer and other customers with hidden disabilities. So, would be worthwhile considering as a regular offering, not only for the Pandemic.
Live Translate – and like minded speech to text apps
These are apps that can translate speech to text on a mobile phone. Great for sharing brief pieces of information to customers who are deaf or have a hearing loss.
And remember, a lot of these solutions will benefit other customer groups as well.
Next week we will talk about COMMUNICATION.