Overcoming today’s blockers to digital engagement

Executive Summary:

Lloyds Bank UK Consumer Index recently published their 2020 Digital Index, the UK’s largest study of transactional, behavioural, and attitudinal research. The key findings show that “16% of the UK population cannot undertake Foundation digital activities such as turning on a device, connecting to Wi-Fi or opening an app by themselves. The behavioural data shows that 7% of the UK (3.6 million people) are almost completely offline”. The research addresses the attitudes of those 3.6 million people and points to the blockers to them accessing online services.

Through our work with organisations designing online solutions we often hear from staff that customers ‘just won’t want to’ use online services. Rarely do we hear the organisation provide any customer research to support that claim. The insight provided by this study helps us create customer centred solutions that overcome these blockers.

Data is a deal-breaker

24% of those surveyed would be encouraged to get online if they knew more about the data that organisations hold about them and how it is used. Furthermore, 25% said they would like to easily be able to stop an organisation from using their data. Customers want to know what an organisation knows about them, how that information is used and what they can control about how the organisation uses it. Easy to say, but not as easy to implement when you need to explain legislation, regulations, and policies. These three ‘wants’ can be attached to three principles: transparency, simplicity and clarity:

  • Be honest with your customers about the data you have and how long you hold that information for
  • Explain in plain English how the information is used, simplifying any legislative heavy wording to be understandable but not patronising to a member of the general public
  • Provide a clear journey for customers to request changes to the use of their information

Ease of use is essential

There is nothing more frustrating for customers than being directed to a website or mobile application and not being able to find or understand the information they are looking for. What are they likely to do next? Typically, they will search for the organisation’s phone number to call and speak to a person. It is no wonder that simplified content and customer experience would encourage 22% to get online. Not only does this create avoidable demand, it discourages your customer from interacting online in the future and gives them an unsatisfactory experience. Engage your customers to give feedback through research labs, user testing and customer satisfaction surveys. This will give you the ability to review your online channels and transactions with data driven insights and create experiences, products and services built on the firm foundation of the customer voice.

Our communities are an underutilised asset

Supporting customers to access online services is not new, we have seen Barclay’s Digital Eagles initiative inspire many organisations to take action and develop the digital skills of their customers. But with 3.6 million people completely offline, how do we reach those who do not have access to these initiatives? Those who do not have family and friends who can support them? The key lies in truly understanding your customer demographic, bench-marking their digital skill levels, and harnessing the power of the local community to help address the gaps. The ongoing pandemic has strengthened relationships within neighbourhoods, local networks, and community groups like never before. Together with these groups, organisations can co-design approaches to support customers that are sustainable, achievable and above all, effective.

Accessible is not always affordable

According to an Office for National Statistics (ONS) report in 2019, more than 5 million people have never used the internet. Getting online requires a device and an internet connection, everyday items we can take for granted. You will have customers who do not have access to a computer (about 12% of the population), a tablet or smartphone whilst others have all three. There will be customers who cannot afford the monthly cost of a broadband connection. For years there have been assumptions that those customers can just visit local libraries, use family or friends’ devices or, in the case of applying for universal credit, use the devices provided by an office. While these assumptions may have some truth, they do not address the stigma customers can feel for not having online access. Can organisations take down this barrier alone? Independently huge strides can be made but by building strategic partnerships and sponsorships with other organisations the impact could be monumental, such as, BT and the Department for Education providing disadvantaged children and students free laptops with 4G internet connections during the Pandemic.

To conclude

While the survey is focussed on the 16% of the population that do not access digital services the blockers can apply just as much to the 84% that do. Customer data and intelligence is critical in digital service design. We find it invaluable in debunking common myths and getting to the heart of what really makes a difference for a customer and therefore what makes for good service design.