You know what I don’t like about society today? The lack of care and support for one another. I am fed up of seeing people in the street blatantly ignore one another, failing to hold open doors and wait for the person behind them to catch up before they let go. It seems to me that in today’s world, everyone is in a rush and no one has time for manners. For many years now the old notion of neighbourly spirit seems to have been dying out and it depresses me greatly.
Since I started using a wheelchair I have noticed this ugly side of society so much more. Each and every time I go out, I see people actively go out of their way to acknowledge my existence. I am in a wheelchair I am not an alien brandishing a stun gun! When I am served in shops often I am treated oddly by nervous young assistants. Many feel the need to shout loudly thinking I can’t here and others don’t like to offer me help. I guess they feel I can take care of things myself but if they see me struggling why they don’t offer to bring the PIN machine down to me I just don’t know. That’s the way it seems to be.
Silver Lining Behind the Grey Clouds
Thankfully not everyone is like this. Sometimes you will have an encounter with a genuinely thoughtful person that will smile and say hello. You also find shops that have actually thought about their customers and the level of customer service that all of their staff need to offer each and every person who comes through their doors. Not all of these shops are big chains either; they are normal people with very small businesses who respect their customers fully.
I can’t even begin to describe what a difference it makes to be treated well. There are a couple of excellent shops in our town that have thought of me even before I get through the doors. The entrances are always clear and the doors are easy to get through. Inside are ramps where they are needed and this means I can access the entire shop floor. This is fun for me as I love to browse and buy items, but it is also beneficial to them.
Advice for Businesses – Become Part of the CommunityIf I go into a shop that hasn’t thought about wheelchair users, or the slightly less mobile they don’t get my money. If I have been treated ignorantly by staff that seem to be embarrassed at the sight of my chair I will never shop there again. My money goes to businesses that are thoughtful and considerate.
My advice to businesses wanting to do good trade and to pride themselves on outstanding customer service is that a little thought and kindness goes such a long way. I always have a smile for anyone that catches my eye. If I see someone struggling with anything I will go and see if I can help or give some advice. It doesn’t cost anything to be respectful. As a business, make sure your employees know how to treat your customers, especially if you want them to return.
It also helps to ensure that the entire shop can be accessed. Make aisles slightly larger and encourage your employees to leave them clear if possible. The doorways need to be easy to handle and large enough for a wheelchair to come through. It’s not just wheelchair users that are affected by this; it is also mums with pushchairs and double buggy’s. If you want to do well make small changes that will welcome everyone and not discriminate. It’s amazing what a difference this can make for the customers experience and in general life too.
An access audit is recommended for businesses looking to improve their customer service and increase revenue. Don’t leave shoppers out in the cold, ensure that you welcome everyone.