THUNDER BAY – The Accessibility Standards for Customer Service (Customer Service Standard) is the first accessibility standard created under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005(AODA). The adoption of the AODA was itself significant as Ontario became the first jurisdiction in North America to develop mandatory accessibility standards that will identify, remove and prevent barriers for people with disabilities in key areas of daily living.
The Martin Prosperity Institute estimates that over the next five years, the implementation of the AODA could stimulate between $400 million and $1.6 billion in new spending on tourism and generate increasing retail sales ranging from $3.8 to $9.6 billion.
So, what does this new customer service mean to you, your business and most importantly your customer? Excellence in customer service is the goal of any successful business today. Ensuring you are accessible and open to all your customers, including people with disabilities, is what the customer service standard is all about.
What you have to do to comply with the Customer Service Standard
The legislation requires that your business was to be in compliance by January 1, 2012. However, there has been a year grace period, allowing you to still take action. This new Customer Service Standard will ensure a more accessible business through the adoption of a few simple measures.
Set up a policy on how people with disabilities can access your goods and services
Communicate with people with disabilities in a manner that takes into account his or her disability
Provide training-to staff and any other people who interact with the public on your behalf on topics as outlined in the customer service standard
Allow people with disabilities to be accompanied by their guide dog or service animal in those areas open to the public
Permit people with disabilities who use a support person to bring that person with them.
Provide notice when the facilities or services that people with disabilities rely on are temporarily disrupted
Make sure people can provide feedback on how you provide goods or services to people with disabilities and make it clear how people can provide this
If you are an organization or company with 20 employees or more you should note that there are some additional requirements around written documentation.
Some simple things you can do immediately to improve accessibility:
- treat all customers with dignity and respect
- ask ’how may I help you?’
If you require assistance in meeting the requirements of the new Customer Service Standard you may wish to receive the Out of the Box Customer Service toolkit now available from your local training advisory board with materials that are designed to help you comply with the legislation in.
Improving accessibility to your goods and services by removing and preventing barriers helps everyone.
To receive your toolkit contact North Superior Workforce Planning Board (346-2940) or visit their website: www.nswpb.ca