Accessibility is Smart in, this, the Age of the Customer
Last Updated: November, 2016
At AudioEye, we believe in empowering our clients to provide their users with superior customer experiences that reach the widest audience possible. With AudioEye, by focusing on accessibility & usability, businesses are not only empowered to do the right thing, but they are also able to provide their users with more ways to personalize the way in which they engage and interact with their websites and digital content. In this day and age, delivering a fully accessible customer experience can yield a significant competitive advantage for businesses of any shape or size.
Age of the Customer
In what Forrester has called the “age of the customer”, company leaders face new challenges as they strive to meet the demands of their customers and thrive in a fiercely competitive global economy.
“One of the most widely-discussed topics in marketing circles over the past few years has been the growing importance of providing outstanding customer experiences and managing customer experiences effectively”, states David Dodd, author of, Customer Experience is the New Competitive Battleground in B2B.
There’s a growing recognition among marketing thought leaders and practitioners that customer experience is quickly becoming a new basis of competition for B2B companies and a primary driver of competitive advantage. For example:
- Recent [research by Gartner] found that 89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience by 2016.
With all of this focus on customer experience (CX) and the unique interactions that define CX – from attracting new customers and cultivating relationships to winning your customer’s business and delivering your product or service to your customers – businesses can benefit greatly by prioritizing Accessibility and making sure Accessibility is built into the different touchpoints that comprise the customer journey.
Aiming for good customer experiences begins by ensuring everything has been done to ensure seamless and impactful user experience for those engaging with your digital experiences. Unfortunately, more often than not, those in charge of designing and developing the customer experience aren’t thinking globally, and often neglect specific use cases, in particular, disability use cases that require an empathetic, inclusive mindset and, for starters, an understanding of, and appreciation for, universal design principles. When your copywriters, designers, and developers are crafting the user experience and interfaces that will, collectively, comprise the customer journey, it is imperative that they consider and fully accommodate different use cases, including those of individuals with different levels of abilities compared to the abilities of those doing the actual work of creating and shaping those key environments.
Understanding the Issue
Everyone agrees that websites should be designed with the user experience in mind. By anticipating user interactions and considering the different ways end-users will engage with the environment, good designers make adjustments and optimizations to eliminate barriers and make the user experience as practical and efficient as possible. The best designers, though, take this a step further to consider individuals with disabilities and those accessing the website using different types of assistive technologies (AT), including screen readers.
Imagine going through all of the work of designing, creating, and publishing a website with many thousands of pages, but forgetting label the form fields that are intended to collect information from your users, or uploading images that are simply blank and without any meaning or purpose, or even creating traps that restrict users from being able to navigate the website in a meaningful way. Doesn’t sounds like a rich customer experience, does it? When websites do not take accessibility into mind, the above issues describe the customer experience for those users accessing the website using assistive technologies. Images lacking alt text are no different from publishing invisible or blacked-out images. Web forms not labeled properly, lack any context to provide meaning for AT users. A webpage not constructed properly may lead to keyboard traps that limit an AT user’s ability to fully navigate and traverse the website.
By prioritizing accessibility and designing and developing with inclusion in mind, businesses can ensure optimal user experience for all of their users.
Accessible. Usable. A Great Customer Experience.
Any company investing time, money, thought, and energy into the customer experience should consider accessibility and the sizable market – with disposable income of $8 Trillion – that comprises the demographic of site visitors with disabilities. When considering accessibility and embracing the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), companies can reach new heights by not only doing the right thing but by attracting new business and encouraging those who visit their websites to stay longer.
“[A]ccessibility is a business-transformation opportunity that integrates various aspects of an organization to deliver better products and services for everyone, with increased returns and reduced costs across the enterprise.
With AudioEye, companies can maximize their ROI in accessibility by ensuring compliance and looking beyond the letter of the law. By providing site visitors with free Web Personalization Technology – a feature included with the AudioEye Ally Service – that empowers individuals to optimize their user experience, allowing them to tailor the user experience to meet their individual needs, businesses can eliminate roadblocks that may lead to negative first impressions or, even worse, restrict certain users from fully participating in the customer journey.
Estimates vary, but issues of accessibility can impact anywhere between 10% to 15% of the population. With a global population exceeding over 1 Billion individuals with disabilities, marketers would be unwise to neglect a demographic the size of China. Product owners aiming for a competitive advantage gained through good customer experiences may look to AudioEye to help ensure that, as a cornerstone, Accessibility is built into their product and, even further, free assistive tools have been included that enhance the customer experience for those looking to tailor the user experience to meet their individual preferences and needs.
It’s Not Just About Disability
It is important to not overlook the fact that the benefits of accessibility reach far beyond any specific demographic of users. When it comes to providing users with new and interactive ways to engage with content, it opens the door to attracting new users and enhancing the user experience for others. From the ever-growing aging population, who tends to share many characteristics with various disability use cases, to younger generations, we all benefit when designers and developers create with digital inclusion in mind. Take millennials for example. Their diversity sets them apart from previous generations and they have been shaped by technology. They are “pioneers in the consumption of technology“… and hold high regard for “finding new ways to experience things“. Supplying your users with more ways to personalize their user experience, such as, for example, providing them with the built-in assistive tools, allows your users to shape their customer journey to meet their individual needs, wants, and expectations.
Image Credit: Whitehouse.gov
As depicted in the above bar graph, this same demographic of users are globally minded and value community and the role they play within their community. As consumers are GOOD to businesses that DO GOOD, investing in Accessibility and promoting a deep commitment to digital inclusion can have a big impact on a businesses’ bottom line. Today, more and more companies are embracing the business case for accessibility and continue to make an effort to showcase their level of commitment.
One leading example of this growing trend is Apple, who regularly dedicates specific segments of its Developer Conferences and product release events to highlight their focus and commitment to Accessibility. Not to be outdone by Haben Girma’s remarkable presentation from WWDC 2016 back in July, Apple’s October event showcased all the ways Apple remains committed to making their technology accessible for everyone. You can watch their new promotional accessibility video at www.apple.com/accessibility or from the embedded YouTube video, below:
How AudioEye Can Help
In this, the age of the customer, integrating the AudioEye Ally AT-in-the-Cloud Solution offers any business a competitive strategy that helps ensure a superior digital experience for all potential and existing customers.
With AudioEye, there are two distinct paths for achieving conformance with Accessibility Best Practices. For designers, developers, and accessibility stakeholders, we provide a robust Digital Accessibility Platform that provides automated testing and helps assist businesses in tracking and maintaining accessibility audits over time. In addition, Ally, our end-to-end managed service, allows businesses to outsource accessibility, leaving AudioEye Subject Matter Experts and AT Testers to do the majority of the heavy lifting. Included with our managed service, we provide companies with our Ally Toolbar, which enables our customer sites with free Web Personalization Tools, that include a Reader utility for customizing the visual display, a Player utility for listening to content in an immersive way, a Voice utility for verbal control, and other Keyboard-driven tools.
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