Part 2: Time to Make supermarkets SUPER for disabled customers

Last week, I wrote a blog about my experiences of supermarket shopping as a disabled customer. The difficulties I faced made me turn to internet shopping but what can store managers practically do to make their supermarkets super for disabled customers?

Firstly, they could consider introducing “Assistance Points” – a specific desk where disabled customers can go to get assistance.  There is a range of support which could be offered including shopping buddies to help customers reach the products which may be too high;   help to put shopping on to the conveyer belt at check outs, as well as assistance to take their shopping to their car.  Remember, this kind of assistance could also benefit elderly customers.

Regular access checks are essential.  Are aisles being kept clear and how is disruption being kept to a minimum during restocking?  (Particularly important if supermarkets are open 24 hours)  Always consider how disabled customers  will navigate your store and if you’re not sure, get an Access Assessment.  Remember, it’s not just people in wheelchairs that may be having difficulties accessing your store.  Visual and sensory impairments present their own barriers and these should also be carefully considered.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, it’s a legal requirement to provide disabled parking spaces.  But managers should ensure that their usage is monitored regularly and that penalties are imposed for misuse.  Make sure that clear signage is used to encourage those who do not hold a blue badge to find an alternative space.

It’s important to find out what your disabled customers want.  There’s nothing worse than people assuming what disabled people want or need to make their lives easier.  So don’t just assume – ask them!  However you decide to get feedback from your customers, make sure that you encourage everyone to participate by using a variety of methods such as questionnaires, focus groups and online surveys.

Finally, make sure that all of your staff receive Disability Equality Training as part of their induction and are familiar with your customer care policies – which should be reviewed and updated regularly to take account of customer feedback, as well as any new disability legislation.

For help and advice on implementing changes, please call 07761 653709 or email Flyinglady.

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