Friday, April 1, 2011

Accommodate Disabled Shoppers’ Psychology

I’d be the perfect April Fool if I gave you legal advice about the revised Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations taking effect this month. I’m a psychologist, not an attorney. So instead, I’ll offer advice about how to best integrate the new ADA rules into your brick-and-mortar retail operations from the perspective of shopper psychology.
     The fundamental motivation is that about one out of five potential retail customers has a disability, as defined by ADA. The fundamental guideline in accommodation is to respect each disabled shopper’s dignity.
  • As with other customers, welcome the disabled shopper to your store. Welcome any service animals—such as guide dogs—as well by recognizing they are on the job. Distractions make the job harder. Welcome the human companions. For instance, under the new regulations, if you provide dressing rooms for customers, there must be provision for a disabled shopper to have a companion who can assist the shopper in trying on clothes whenever necessary. A chair for the companion would be a nice touch.
  • Listen for the disabled shopper’s requests for special assistance. Then collaborate with the shopper in deciding how you can reasonably accommodate the requests.
  • Anticipate the disabled shopper’s unstated distinctive requirements. With obvious disabilities, such as the person who enters in a wheelchair, be ready to assist in getting items from higher shelves that other customers would be able to reach easily. Also be alert to less obvious disabilities, such as the adult customer who needs help reading labels because of partial blindness or intellectual deficits.
  • Ask questions, but with minimal intrusiveness and a recognition that most disabled people want to do as much as possible on their own. “How may I help you?” is a good start.
  • Consider the extra attention as an opportunity to close additional sales on items the disabled customer and their shopping companions could benefit from having. When the restaurant server is reading menu items to the blind patron, it should be with a spirit of giving a wonderful dining experience, not with the attitude of being bothered.
     Want to know more? An excellent resource is ADA Update: A Primer for Small Business, published by the U.S. Department of Justice. That primer cites research showing how retailers who accommodate the psychology of disabled shoppers earn strong customer loyalty. It’s good business ethics and just good business to do it.

Click below for more:
Use Closed-Ended Questions Selectively
Deal with Compulsive Shopping Disorder

1 comment:

  1. Bruce... the post was good, but the posting of the link to the ADA Primer was the pièce de résistance! Knowing how I can get into trouble is the best way to stay out of trouble, and the primer clearly explained my responsibilities as a shop owner under the new laws. They even offered a PDF version so I can give it to my staff to read. Thanks again.