People with disabilities often feel underserved when it comes to banking services and products
Banking needs are everywhere and almost everyone needs to go to a bank branch or bank facility. Banks have always counted the footprints of their customers. But somehow access to banking facilities for people with disabilities and customers is not taken seriously, especially in a country like ours. If we can facilitate access to this segment of the population, we can add value to the inclusive economy we aim for.
The physical infrastructure of banks in Bangladesh is not wheelchair or crutch friendly. It is almost impossible for a blind person to enter a bank. What if a person with a disability needs to go to the restroom? Are restrooms designed for accessibility? What happens to customers with disabilities during an emergency evacuation? Also not suitable for disabled people.
Providing accessible ramps in the bank’s physical infrastructure is one way to make the building more accessible to people with disabilities. Most banks in our country rent their premises from landlords. A bank in Bangladesh is keen to build a ramp, but the building’s owner disagrees with the bank’s proposal. This is the reality our banks have to deal with.
There are many different types of lamps. Portable ramps are possible. These are small lamps, usually made of aluminum. These are lightweight and easy to carry. Semi-permanent lamps are another type. But these are usually used as a short-term solution. They are installed on concrete pads or other surfaces and supported by pads. A ramp should be introduced during the design of the building.
For large facilities, stairs may be required to reach the entrance. A wheelchair lift is required for entry to facilitate entry for people with disabilities. The only place where a wheelchair lift can be seen is Police Plaza, adjacent to Hathir His Zeal in Dhaka. It, too, has never worked.
Building modifications are possible. Only human action is required. Responsibility rests with regulators and bank executive committees.
Accessibility is essential not only for your customers, but also for your bank colleagues. For example, using an elevator can be difficult for a visually impaired colleague. Modern elevators are equipped with tactile buttons and Braille information, which is convenient for blind passengers. Smart cards also help automatically activate the correct language. Systems that provide audio feedback and announcements could make rides more user-friendly for the visually impaired.
online, apps, chatbots, AI
Financial management is complex for people with disabilities. Apps are a basic need for these people. Almost every bank has its own app. But are these apps designed for people with cognitive and intellectual disabilities? Using a combination of text, images, and voice instructions to guide users through different tasks. Can it be used by people with Down syndrome, autism, or other cognitive or intellectual disabilities?
Using artificial intelligence and chatbots could improve access for people with disabilities. Hundreds of thousands of applications are now focused on helping people with disabilities. Chatbots can help people with disabilities perform certain tasks. Answer questions, schedule appointments, get information, and interact with individuals in real time.
There are currently about 285 million visually impaired people in the world. Of these, the majority are over the age of 50. Most of them live in developing countries. But despite their needs, these people face hurdles to having independent bank accounts. They also need help accessing technology-enhanced platforms. It would be nice if banks could issue ATM cards for the visually impaired. Have ATM machine manufacturers thought about it? Have they installed voice prompts on their machines? Low vision customers need this service too.
European bank BNP Paribas has an “Accessible Bank for All” program that allows blind customers to use ATMs. He has been voted one of the leading banks to provide the most creative solutions, allowing visually impaired customers to have a better banking experience when using his ATMs. In 2010, the bank launched a “voice-assisted withdrawal” feature that allows visually impaired customers to complete transactions without the help of anyone else.
Failure as segment
People with disabilities often feel underserved when it comes to banking services and products. Many people with disabilities feel that they have not been treated well, have not been granted access to banks, and have their demands ignored.
Maybe it’s time to think of people with disabilities as a segment and take a mission-oriented approach to banking products and services. Banks may consider inventing businesses for these people and can offer loans at attractive interest rates.
bank employee training
Employees trained to support people with disabilities are a great way to improve customer access. Knowing how to behave and communicate with people with disabilities is essential.
It’s important to understand that these people are just like us.
People with disabilities have their own preferences and needs. We must respect their limitations and preferences. You may need to learn many aspects of these people. Banks should therefore educate employees on how to behave, what types of language to use, what questions to avoid and what considerations should be given when communicating with persons with disabilities. staff can be trained. Banks may develop their own policies regarding disability etiquette.
The last word
Over the past decade, banks around the world have taken important steps to improve the customer experience. It is also time to make banks and their services more accessible to people with disabilities. Give them an experience that brings them together.
Ekram Kabir is a storyteller and communications expert. He’s just an email: [email protected].
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Business Standard.