Train your people how to talk to deaf and speech-impaired callers
Being the hearing person in a relay call is easy. You just need to know that sometimes you’ll get calls via a Relay Assistant. Talk to them as if you were talking direct to a hearing customer but please be patient – even though the service is slicker than it used to be, it still may take a little longer than a regular call.
Here’s a few ideas:
- Tell everyone who answers calls for you about NGT.
- British Sign Language is a language with its own grammar and syntax, which is different to that used by the English language. So Deaf people whose first language is BSL can sometimes seem very direct in conversation.
- Explain that calls may take a little longer than normal and to be patient.
- Even though there’s a third party on the line, the call is kept confidential.
- Treat the call like you would any other and speak directly to the caller. The conversation isn’t with the Relay Assistant, they just relay back the information.
- Ask for the exact same information that you’d ask a hearing customer for if they were speaking to you direct.
- Give the Relay Assistant time to type what you say to the customer.
- Wait for the customer to type their responses to the Relay Assistant.
Keep your call steering (IVR) really simple
Call steering is a really handy way of getting people to who they need to speak to, fast. Many businesses rely on it, big or small. But imagine what it's like if you're a deaf or speech-impaired person using a relay service.
The Relay Assistant has to type each option on the call steering menu for the NGT user to read. By the time they've typed it and the caller has responded, the call steering may have closed down. At best, it takes ages and may need several repeat calls to work through the full message. This makes for a frustrating experience for your deaf or speech-impaired customer.
So what can you do about it?
It’s tricky. Call steering is an essential component for many companies. Doing away with your IVR is not feasible. But you can make it easier to navigate.
- Think about the number of options and levels on your IVR menu, and keep them to a minimum.
- Leave enough time between asking the last question on a menu and the call dropping out.
- Add an option for people using a Relay Assistant so they can bypass or minimise the call steering.