Do you consider the needs of your customers with disabilities while making plans to enhance your restaurant’s customer service? Because, contrary to popular belief, there is a sizable number of people with disabilities who would like to dine out at excellent restaurants just like everyone else, but there aren’t that many restaurants that are accessible to those with disabilities.
As per a WHO (World Health Organisation) report, more than 1 billion people in the world experience disability. This includes mental & physical disabilities. With the current sensitization toward mental & physical health, it has become important for even businesses to focus on the needs of these special customers.
Obviously, it starts with being sensitive & aware about these matters & training your staff accordingly.
Read on to learn about the things you can take care of to make your restaurant disability-friendly.
Tips to Provide Quality Customer Service To Your Disable Customers
It’s imperative to provide at least a few designated handicap parking spaces. Make sure these parking spots are right next to the restaurant’s entrance, or at least the closest ones. Customers with disabilities will appreciate the convenience of being able to park close to the restaurant’s most easily accessible entrance if there are many entries.
2. It Starts with The Entrance
The entrance is one of the most important parts of a restaurant. You need to make the entrance and exit wheelchair-friendly and also with fewer obstacles so that the commute gets easy for the people. If possible, slopes and steps should be avoided at the entrance to ensure maximum comfort.
The entrance should be wider than normal for people with wheelchairs to easily pass through it without having to adjust the size. It is a huge disappointment if they cannot even enter or exit properly from a restaurant due to compact entrances.
There need to be at least 36 inches of space between open doors for wheelchairs to fit. Place the doorknobs at an accessible height for people sitting on wheelchairs. Loop or level door knobs are preferable because they don’t necessitate any twisting or squeezing to open. The door’s opening and closing forces shouldn’t exceed five pounds.
4. Seating Arrangement
The restaurant lanes should be 36 inches apart, and the tables should be set at a substantial distance apart to allow wheelchair users easy access. They shouldn’t have to force other people to move their chairs just to go through the restaurant. This can be humiliating for those with disabilities.
If it is not possible to make the entire restaurant accessible, designate a separate space for individuals with disabilities and their friends to dine together. It should not be too far away from the main restaurant dining area, as this may make those with disabilities feel singled out.
You can train your staff to be active in providing quick & effective customer service to them so that they are not bothered much & can enjoy their time.
5. Menu Accessibility
The ordering process should be made simpler for those who are blind or visually impaired by including menus with large print and braille. It’s crucial to pay attention to the menu’s typeface, text size, and contrasting colours. If you have a website, make your menu available there so that customers may read it in advance or on their smartphones. Make sure all of your signs and writing are legible and have strong contrast, both outside the restaurant and online.
6. Accessible Washrooms
People attempting to make their restaurants disability-friendly must have accessible restrooms. Create a separate restroom for those with impairments so they can feel included in the restaurant. If people are unable to find an accessible restroom, they will recall your restaurant as a place that should not be frequented again.
Because there aren’t many accessible washrooms in public locations, a really accessible washroom in your restaurant might become one of your key features for people with disabilities.
7. Be Friendly & Helpful
This is one of the most important aspects of providing excellent customer service to all your customers. Respect and accommodate those who are differently abled. You should take care not to make them feel uncomfortable or alienated. It’s important to provide your customers with the space and respect they need to feel at ease while they’re in your care.
The best way to assist customers with impairments is to politely inquire if they require assistance and, if so, how. You should never make assumptions about a guest’s impairment or ability.
8. Respect Their Private Space
Being considerate of your customers and not touching their mobility and helping devices without their permission also come under providing good customer service. Avoid touching any wheelchairs, walkers, oxygen tanks, walking canes, crutches, etc., or service animals unless you have been specifically instructed to do so.
You should also remember that along with physical disabilities, you will also be catering to people with mental disabilities like down syndrome, dyslexia, partial sightedness, autism, social anxiety, or anything else. To make them feel comfortable, train your staff to coordinate with such customers’ friends & families with them.
You might want to lower the music volume or dim the light if it disturbs them or makes them uncomfortable.
To be inclusive, one must begin at the very top and work one’s way down in the restaurant hierarchy. To take your restaurant’s customer service to the next level, you can show your team how important it is to be inclusive by holding monthly sensitivity training sessions and educating them on reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities.
It may be tough for you as an entrepreneur to understand what you need to do to make your business more accessible to your differently-abled customers. To do so, contact a few people with disabilities and ask them to assist you in making the restaurant disability-friendly. They will be happy to know that someone is willing to go the extra mile to accommodate them.
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