Accessibility of our Service Policy
The UK European Consumer Centre is committed to helping those who need assistance and will take all pro active steps that are realistic so as not to discriminate and to ensure our service is accessible to all.
This procedure provides guidance as to how staff of the UK ECC will process and handle calls from consumers who may have disabilities.
It is important to remember that there is no need for customers to identify their disability to be able to access good customer service.
Andy Allen, UK European Consumer Centre Director
1. Legal Obligation - The Disability Discrimination Act
UK law applies if the organisation is based in the UK and this is where the customers are calling from.
UK providers of services and public functions have a legal obligation to ensure they do not discriminate against disabled people. This means organisations ranging from banks and television companies to local authorities and government departments must ensure that their call routing systems do not prevent disabled people from accessing their services or getting the information they need.
Organisations should expect disabled users to contact them and anticipate their needs by making changes or ‘reasonable adjustments’ to the way they operate to ensure that disabled people with a variety of different impairments can contact them.
The UK ECC is contacted by those who need advice and assistance and this is done at a distance, with no face-to-face contact. Consumers can contact us any way they feel comfortable with in the following formats:
- Phone (including Next Generation Text Service formerly Text Relay)
- Online pdf form
- Via a third party – eg a CAB advisor/family member
The details of all these forms of contact can be found on our website in our ‘contact us’ page. If the consumer does not have access to our website we can provide this information in any appropriate format i.e. send the information in a letter, provide the information over the phone, and provide it to a third party.
In all correspondence the consumer will be offered different forms of way to communicate with us, so they can choose the way that suits them best. This is for both them contacting us and us contacting them.
Enquiries that may be received in any language will be handled sensitively and in the following way.
- Admin Assistant to use Google translate to get an over view of the enquiry to make a judgement is in scope or out of scope.
- If judged to be out of scope, a simple clear e mail will be sent stating where the consumer should contact.
- If the enquiry appears to be in scope, a clear, simple e mail will be sent saying we can handle but is possible could it be submitted in English or a friend/relation may be able to assist or alternatively we can send to another centre to see if they would assist but there may be a time delay.
3. Effective call handling skills that will allow accessibility by all users
The UK ECC will promote good practice and ensure that every call handled is dealt with in a professional and consistent manner. All callers will be treated with patience and empathy. If the caller brings to the attention of the advisor they have a disability they will respond accordingly and as required by the caller.
Advisors will assist all consumers by (as there should be no need for customers to identify their disability to be able to access good customer service):
- Speak clearly and directly into the microphone.
- Not speak too quickly, and slow down if requested to do so.
- Speak at a reasonable volume and vary this is asked to do so.
- Be patient, always be ready to repeat or rephrase.
- Give the consumer time to explain fully – not interrupting unless appropriate to do so.
- Concentrate and be attentive to the content of the call.
- Ask the person to repeat what has been said if needed.
- If receiving a call via the text relay service they will stay calm and wait for the relay assistant to help with the call
- Not assume the caller has standard vision (for example, to read a serial number or paperwork), hearing, or ability to take note etc.
- Check the caller has understood you.
- If a person has a speech difficulty, don’t finish their words or guess the end of the sentence, but listen attentively.
- All advisors will remember that many consumers with disabilities may not regard themselves as disabled or may choose not to so identify; many older customers who have impairments would not consider themselves to have a disability.
4. Transfer of a call or a case
There will be situations when we need to transfer a consumer to a different organisation or a different member of the team.
When a case has to be transferred the advisor will ensure that the receiving person is the correct person and is informed of all relevant information to eliminate unnecessary repeated requests for information from the consumer and to ensure the consumer is handled as required if there is a disability. There should be no 'cold' call transfers.
Before a transfer is completed the consumer should be told where and why they are being transferred, if a direct transfer cannot be completed the consumer should be given the correct alternative number to call.
5. Call queuing and holding
The UK ECC is a small contact centre that has a small number advisors available to take calls at any one time. As such there will be times when a consumer will call in and be placed in a queue. When they are in this queue they will be informed that they are in a queue and provided with alternative methods of contact if they wish to or they can wait. This message will be repeated at appropriate intervals.
Currently there is no music for queuing the consumer will hear the standard ring tone to identify the call has not been cut off.
Currently our system does not allow for us to inform the consumer of approximate answer times.
To ensure we keep queuing time down to a minimum reviews will be regularly made to identify the times we have the most abandoned calls and ensure to have the most advisors on the phone.
If a consumer needs to be put on hold during a call as the advisor needs to check some information, the consumer will be informed that they are being put on hold and that they will return as quickly as possible. If this is not convenient to the consumer the advisor will offer to call the consumer back at a convenient time.
6. Call routing
Given the size of our organisation, the UK ECC does not implement a call routing system, there are no menus or options for the consumers to chose.