Zipwhip’s goal is to make communication easier for businesses and their customers through text messaging, including those who have speech impairments or those who are deaf and hard of hearing (HoH). Texting removes communication barriers between both parties, allowing those with needs to reclaim their independence while providing businesses with the confidence to assist them.
May 16 is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), a day that focuses on promoting digital access and inclusion for people with all disabilities. This year we challenge your business to improve accessibility by adopting text messaging: If your business isn’t text enabled, you’re likely excluding customers with needs from reaching you.
The customer journey for HoH individuals and those with speech impairments
According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, approximately 48 million Americans have hearing loss of some kind, while the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that about 7.5 million people have trouble using their voices.
For these individuals, reaching a business with a phone call isn’t an option. Even those who are not technically deaf or HoH can still have issues hearing during calls due to low frequencies transmitted over phones. Many rely on another person to make calls for them or communicate in another way on their behalf, which isn’t always practical. Assistive devices for phones such as the TeleTYpe (TTY) are helpful, but they can be expensive and require the other party to also have the device.
Email is a great option for the speech impaired or HoH, but it comes with a few drawbacks. For one, it’s easy to miss an email in our inboxes given the volume of messages we receive each day: receipts, reminders, marketing outreach, etc., mean that many messages are ignored or overlooked. Not to mention, messages are regularly sent to our spam folders, a place we rarely look. And because it’s not an urgent medium, email is not the right communication channel to use when businesses and customers need to reach one another right away.
Texting as a low-cost option to increase accessibility for your business
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides a set of regulations to help businesses determine “reasonable accommodations” to assist people with disabilities. A compliance plan will look different for every business based on their operations and services offered, but if your business is only using phone calls and email to reach customers, it’s time to rethink your communication options.
Texting for business is a great communication tool to increase accessibility for businesses and customers alike. There’s nothing for the customer to download and no device to purchase separately. Everyone has a texting app on their phone, no matter the device or carrier. Plus, texting is a medium that elicits an urgent response compared to phone calls or email, meaning messages are replied to much faster.
Creating an accessible business – Stories from Zipwhip customers
Sara Dukart, owner of The Grooming Gallery in Dickinson, ND. Overall, texting can be liberating for customers with speech impairments or who are HoH. In the case of Sara Dukart, texting for business has allowed her to communicate with her customers on her terms. Dukart owns a pet grooming business in North Dakota and happens to be deaf with cochlear implants in both ears. Before she adopted texting for business, Dukart relied on friends and family to take customer calls for booking appointments, which often resulted in mishaps, like overbooking.
“It’s always been frustrating to not be able to discuss issues directly with my clients,” said Dukart. “Important information gets lost in translation when someone else is speaking for you or relaying information back to you.”
She thought giving out her personal number for clients to text her would alleviate some communication issues, but it eventually disrupted her personal life, and she found it inconvenient to advertise two phone numbers to her customers: her personal number for texting and her business number for calls.
Texting for business with Zipwhip has changed how Dukart runs her business.
“(Zipwhip) has proven to be an invaluable tool for me. Almost all of my clients now text me directly to book appointments, notify me of conflicts and to ask questions.” – Sara Dukart
Indiana University Athletics. When you create a more accessible business, your customers will take notice. Texting gives customers a better perception of your business, and you could keep them for life because you’re one of the few who meets their needs. Indiana University Athletics uses Zipwhip to sell tickets to customers over text message, but texting has proven to be worthwhile in another way.
Mike Osmundson, Assistant Athletics Director for Ticket Operations for Indiana University Athletics recently shared a snippet of a customer conversation that revealed just how valuable texting has become for some of his clients. “It’s more than just selling tickets,” he said. At the end of a text conversation, an HoH customer sent the following message:
“…I’m so happy the IU athletics ticket office do the texting/messages, because I’m deaf, way more easier to do than over the Relay service on phone. Hope it will continue for the future events and beyond. Thank you!!!”
Remove communication barriers to your business with text messaging
You could be losing valuable customers by not offering accessible channels. For those with speech impairments or those who are HoH, texting is an inclusive language that allows them to interact with businesses on their terms. We encourage your business to re-think what it means to make communication easy for all of your customers for this year’s GAAD. A simple text could make all the difference.