The Importance Of Being Able To Offer Reasonable Adjustments
- 09 September 2020
People often ask me why it's so important to be able to offer reasonable adjustments and I recently came across a great example of why, having made a reasonable adjustment to a service offering, it would have totally and utterly changed the way that organisation and its customer interacted and went on to relate.
A lady had been referred to a debt advice service, having accumulated some fairly significant debts of which she was hugely embarrassed and ashamed of. Having understood her situation, it's clear that these were not wilfully accumulated and simply the consequence of a set of difficult circumstances that no one could have predicted. She was due to meet an advisor face to face in their meeting room, as was usual working practice. However, due to the current Covid situation, that wasn't possible. The service provider's solution was to change the face to face meeting to become a telephone call and they notified her of the time and date of the call.
The service provider called the lady at the agreed time. During the call it became apparent that there wasn't much interaction coming from the lady who was in debt at the time. The advisor made remarks such as "Hello? Hello? Is anyone there? It's all gone quiet... if you're not interested in my help then I'll go and help someone else who does, you're wasting my time!"
The reality of the situation was something that the advisor didn't realise and wasn't able to see because they were on the phone. The lady was so upset during the call that she was actually sobbing and became unable to speak through her tears. Because there was no visual information in the conversation, (as there would have been with a face to face meeting), it was unfortunate this poor lady couldn't communicate, she simply couldn't get her words out. She was unable to tell the advisor that she was so ashamed of her debt and needed his help, she was relieved she'd finally got some help.
So in terms of reasonable adjustments, if the service provider had been able to change this from a telephone conversation to a face-time or What'sApp call or even a video conference using zoom or MS Teams, for example, they could have maintained a visual presence and reassurance and it it could have totally changed how their relationship worked.
I hope this example highlights the importance of considering the aspects and important elements of your service offering so if you do need to adjust it in any way that you account for each and any one of those things. When offering an alternative solution try, make sure you don't lower the quality of your offering by making it different than business as usual. Reasonable adjustments should address all the individual's needs.