Knowledge of dyslexia can bring power to your customer service
Knowledge is power, said Francis Bacon four hundred years ago. Today, your customers hold the power to influence your business performance, because they pay for and experience your service and use this knowledge to evaluate your worth. If you give your employees knowledge of your customers and how to serve them to the best of your ability, their power will work for your business.
One area of customer knowledge that staff benefit from learning more about is customers who have dyslexia and co-occurring differences, such as dyspraxia, Attention Deficit Disorder, autism or Auditory Processing Disorder. Understanding how these conditions can influence the experience of many aspects of service provision can help to improve the quality of the services provided.
For example, in the process of providing services your staff may work with customers who may appear to have difficulty understanding or following instructions, particularly if these are complex or require long-term retention of them. This will often be because people with dyslexia or co-occurring differences often face challenges in processing information, particularly when under pressure, or faced with distractions such as loud noise or rapid verbal instructions. These conditions are also characterised by short-term memory difficulties and poor organisational skills, which can make some interactions in a service context confusing and increasingly stressful.
These kind of processing issues in customers are not always obvious to staff who are providing services to them. This makes it important to learn how to adjust services to meet these particular needs, especially because adjustments are required more frequently than you may think, and for several reasons including inclusivity, equality and health & safety.
Here are three main reasons why it is important to equip your customer service staff with the knowledge and understanding of how to adjust your service provision to take account of dyslexia and co-occurring differences.
1. Many more of your customers are likely to be dyslexic than you may think
10% of adults in the UK are dyslexic, says the British Dyslexia Association and others. This is more than three million adults – how many of them are your customers? Now consider how many of them are not your customers, because your systems are not adjusted to cater for their processing needs? And how many already use your services, but could be making more of them, with the right adjustments made?
Equip your staff with knowledge in order to gain the power to attract new customers through delivering higher quality services.
2. Service providers are required to make adjustments in anticipation of customer needs.
The Equality Act 2010 requires service providers to anticipate the nature of the needs of disabled customers, including those with unseen disabilities such as dyslexia and co-occurring differences. This means that service providers should not wait until a disabled person tries to use their service before making any adjustments, but instead predict what they might reasonably require and adjust their services so that this group can access them without being placed at a disadvantage.
This requirement is important to heed because it covers an enormous key part of the social interaction between service providers and customers – the communication of information and knowledge.
Equip your business with knowledge of how to make service adjustments in order to be inclusive to more of your customers and give your staff the confidence that they are delivering a quality service.
3. Many people with dyslexia are not aware that they are dyslexic
Society’s understanding of dyslexia is a very recent phenomenon, so many people in this group will not be aware of why they are experiencing difficulties with their short-term memory, information processing and general organisation. Many subtle and hard-to-spot cases of dyslexia are still routinely missed in schools. These ‘undiagnosed’ dyslexics will experience difficulties in processing the information required to access many services, but may not know why the system does not work for them. This can lead to a decline or absence of their service use.
This lack of service use or comprehension can also confuse service providers, who have no obvious or direct indication from this group of how or why they failed to engage with them, or how they can make adjustments to avoid this situation in the future.
Equip your staff with knowledge of dyslexia and co-occurring differences in order to better understand how to develop more inclusive customer interactions and relationships.
Power can come to your business by equipping your staff with the knowledge of how to serve the 10% or more of your customers who are dyslexic. In many sectors dyslexia is highly over-represented, so adjusting for dyslexia if your clients are engineers, architects, entrepreneurs or work in creative or artistic fields may have an enhanced impact on the success of your venture.
Knowledge is still power, as Bacon might observe today.
Jan Halfpenny writes, conducts research and trains organisations and individuals on dyslexia and business.