Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming Donna Cutting, author of newly released The Celebrity Experience: Insider Secrets to Delivering Red Carpet Customer Service, on her Celebrity Experience Blog Tour. Her book is about providing quality service to all customers. Here she shares her advice when serving customers with disabilities:
When Glenda invited me to write a guest post about providing customer service to people with disabilities, I was honored. Then, I was nervous. While providing a red-carpet customer experience is my area of expertise, I would never presume to call myself an expert on the American Disabilities Act, accessibility, or the various needs of people living with disabilities.
Perhaps that’s why I am the perfect person to write this post! Because even with my years of past experience in the field of elder-care, and working with people who have developmental disabilities, I am smart enough to know that I know very little. My guess is that most service professionals are in the same boat – they may know even less.
Yet, they meet people living with disabilities every day. They’re called customers.
I recall this incident which I wrote about in The Celebrity Experience: Insider Secrets to Delivering Red-Carpet Customer Service:
A few months ago, I was in the airport riding on a shuttle from one concourse to another. The shuttle was full of people, and behind me was a party of three – two airport employees and one woman who was in a wheelchair. One of the employees was apparently escorting the woman in the wheelchair to her gate and like me, they were taking the shuttle to get there. While they rode, the two employees carried on a loud conversation with each other about another employee and how she had refused to ‘do wheelchairs.’ “I’m sick and tired of doing wheelchairs,” one of them said. “Why should I have to do all the wheelchairs when she gets out of it?” “I know,” the other one exclaimed. “I’ve pushed three wheelchairs already today, and I’m just going to refuse from now on.” Wow. I didn’t know what to do, quite frankly. I couldn’t believe they were having this conversation right in front of this woman, without regard to her feelings at all. I looked at the woman in the wheelchair and smiled at her. She smiled back and lifted her shoulders in resignation. I refrained from commenting, thinking the woman had already been embarrassed enough. But I wonder if I made a mistake. Someone should have called those young women on their behavior.
Here’s what I think Managers can do to ensure that EVERYONE – including those living with disabilities – gets red-carpet treatment from their employees.
- Hire people who have the sensitivity to treat people with kindness. If someone is going to be serving your customers, kindness should be in the job description.
- Learn everything you can about the American Disabilities Act and accessibility laws. Ensure that everyone on your team has this information. Learn how to reframe your language when discussing people who have disabilities. For instance, that airport employee wasn’t “doing wheelchairs.” She was escorting a PERSON who uses a wheelchair.
- Provide exceptional, ongoing training on the needs of your customers living with disabilities – to ensure that they are given red-carpet treatment – and that their unique needs are met with their dignity intact.
- Hold your team accountable for their actions! Do not tolerate employees who treat unkindly, condescendingly, or without dignity.
©2008, Donna Cutting
Portions of this blog post are excerpted from The Celebrity Experience: Insider Secrets to Delivering Red Carpet Customer Service (Wiley, 2008) by Donna Cutting. Used by permission only.
This book excerpt was part of a blog tour brought to you by Key Business Partners.
Yesterday, the blog tour stopped at these locations:
Today, this is celebrated also at these blogs:
And tomorrow, it will continue to be celebrated at these blogs:
- Andrea Nierenberg / The Nierenblog
- Heidi Caswell / Get Your Cards Here
- Jenn Givler / Create a Thriving Business
- Melodieann Whitley / Wealth Together