By Howard Bogach
As a builder, you may have installed handrails, widened doorways or lowered countertops to make a home more accessible for a homeowner. But have you made your customer service accessible too?
Whether your interactions happen over the phone, in a sales office, on a construction site or within a home, it’s important that you are aware of your customers’ needs and do your best to meet them.
Accessible customer service is not just nice to have, it’s the law. Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, or AODA, businesses are required to comply with the Accessible Customer Service Standard.
So how do you adopt AODA principles as part of your day-to-day business? It begins with getting to know your customers and not making assumptions about what they can or cannot do or what they do or do not need. Disabilities and accessibility issues may present themselves in many different forms and it’s up to you to work with your customers to determine how best to accommodate them.
At Tarion, we are committed to ensuring that we deliver services that are integrated, accessible, and respect the dignity and independence of each individual.
I’ve heard numerous stories of how our staff has put this commitment into action by addressing the accessibility challenges of homeowners. For instance, by bringing a sign language interpreter to a conciliation for someone who was hearing impaired, or offering assistance with filling out warranty forms for someone with vision loss.
It’s important to be aware, however, that not all disabilities will be visible. While a person in a wheelchair or someone with a seeing-eye dog have accessibility challenges that are easier to identify, someone with a learning disability or a mental health issue may also require special accommodations. We have had situations in which Tarion representatives and the builder’s staff needed to wear gloves during an inspection to avoid physical contact with a homeowner’s possessions. In another case, we assigned a dedicated staff person to help a homeowner with a severe brain injury in filling out forms, communicating with the builder and scheduling repairs.
Customer service is only as good as its accessibility. There is no one size fits all approach – it’s about meeting and accommodating your customers’ needs whatever they are.
As a warranty provider, we not only hold ourselves to a high standard when it comes to accessibility, but we expect the same from our contractors. To that end, we offer a training guide with tips and examples for our Tarion approved contractors. It’s a great resource and I encourage you to have a look if you are curious about ways you and your trades can increase the accessibility of your services. The guide, as well as Tarion’s accessibility policy and resources, are available at tarion.com/about/accessibility. You can also reach out to your Stakeholder Relations Representative if you have any questions about meeting a customer’s accessibility needs or how Tarion may make accommodations during the warranty process.
Howard Bogach is president and CEO of the Tarion Warranty Corporation.