How digital accessibility can win customer loyalty

Companies that embraced accessibility to create digital services accessible to everyone, will be some of the big winners as we exit the Covid-19 pandemic, say business leaders. 

Image shows a young girl with a laptop surrounded by shoppingSpeaking at TechShare Pro 2020 Paul Smyth, Barclays' Head of Digital Accessibility, said: "Accessibility programs are the biggest loyalty scheme that you've got. We see customers vote with their feet and switch to our bank.

"Their families moved to our bank because we're more welcoming, and accommodating, and automate. There is a business reason why we do this it isn’t charity; it makes good business sense.”

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Adapting to help vulnerable people during the pandemic

Companies that prioritised the needs of vulnerable people during Covid-19 will be remembered, says Smyth: “For a long time to come disabled older people whose backs were against the wall will remember the brands that went out of her way and had their backs.”

Smyth said Sainsbury’s, which prioritised vulnerable shoppers, is a good example of a company that stepped up. He went on to explain how Barclays has adapted during the pandemic.

“One of the biggest areas we’ve need to adapt is really around those shielding,” said Paul. One challenge was family and friends, and carers who have been shopping on behalf of those who are shielding, and how to pay for goods. 

Barclays introduced cash delivery services to the doors of people who are shielding. 

Watch Paul Smyth in conversation with AbilityNet's Head of Digital Inclusion, Robin Christopherson 

The video above is part of our series of FREE webinars

Creating an accessible customer experience

Others agree that customer experience is the key to sustainable business.

“The ability to understand a diverse customer experience is core to most commercial organisations,” said Christine Hemphill, Managing Director of research company Open Inclusion.

“You need to unpick that and offer moments of delight. That creates massive loyalty and is the most powerful marketing program,” she added. 

Importantly, reducing friction for diverse customers means going beyond meeting basic accessibility requirements, said Hemphill.

“Hanging on to share is going to require us all to step up in terms of the experiences we're providing our clients and customers," said Hemphill.

And if you're only meeting some of their needs, but you're ignoring other parts of their need or you're creating some friction and some barrier on the way it’s not enough,” she added. 

“Why stop at the minimum value you can create. People with disabilities and particularly older people with permanent disabilities and older people tend to be very loyal. So, this can be some of the most profitable segments of your consumer population.

"It just seems to be shooting yourself in the foot to hit that minimum bar.”

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Further resources

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