Shops need to help those with disfigurements

Customer service web

Changing Faces is launching a training scheme aimed at people working in retail

3rd October 2017 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

A charity has called for Scottish retailers to do more for people with disfigurements.

Changing Faces - which campaigns on behalf of the one in 111 people who live with a condition, mark or scar that affects their appearance - is launching a training scheme aimed at people working in customer services.

The launch, which coincides with National Customer Service Week, follows reports of negative experiences from customers, and aims to minimise embarrassing or uncomfortable exchanges in shops and restaurants. 

High street chain Specsavers has already implemented the training, with positive results, and the hope is that retailers in Scotland will follow suit.

Rob Murray, Scotland manager of Changing Faces, said: "An awkward or rude exchange in a shop or restaurant can have a deeply damaging effect on someone with a visible birthmark, scar or other facial disfigurement.

“Our report Disfigurement in the UK showed that poor customer service is all too common-place for people with disfigurements: almost half of our respondents had experienced difficult interactions with retail staff.

“This is backed up by countless anecdotal reports we hear of customer services staff not knowing how to react to someone with an unusual appearance. We want to help both staff and customer in that scenario.”

Specsavers worked with the charity to develop a series of training modules which staff underwent, and the training offer is now being extended to other retailers.

The three focal points of the modules are: an introduction to disfigurement; guidance on overcoming surprise; and appropriate language.

Dame Mary Perkins, co-founder of Specsavers, said: "Due to customer feedback, we realised that we had to improve our customer service when it came to serving people who look unusual or have a disfigurement.

“We are committed to delivering a high standard of customer care to everyone, without exception, and when we realised this was an area we could improve on, we were keen to work with Changing Faces"