Publication - Research and analysis

Social Security client and experience panels research: effects of the coronavirus pandemic on communication preferences – visual summary

Published: 23 Aug 2021
Social Security Directorate
Part of:
Coronavirus in Scotland

A summary of findings from a research project with client and experience panel members about communication preferences.

Social Security client and experience panels research: effects of the coronavirus pandemic on communication preferences – visual summary
Talking to Social Security Scotland via video call

Talking to Social Security Scotland via video call

Some respondents said their experiences during the pandemic meant they now found video calls a helpful way to get in touch.

Participants had different ideas about what purposes were best suited to video call. These included: for all contacts; for advice and general information; or only when it was appropriate to the situation.

“For a first time person, there’s so much information it’s quite hard to sift through so I think pre-application would be a good starting point [for video calls] to give people good, personalised information.” (interview participant)

“To be honest, I think all the time. I think I feel better speaking to a person and seeing them rather than speaking to a stranger on the phone and sometimes I think on the phone you don’t understand the problems in the same way as seeing somebody.” (interview participant)

“Preferred over the phone as my mum had just passed, so with teary-eyes and blurriness you know, I think it would be based on the situation…I wouldn’t have wanted to make the person feel awkward.” (interview participant with experience of Funeral Support Payment)

Some panel members said video calls could replace meeting in person while restrictions were in place or from now on.

Almost all interview participants said they would expect Social Security Scotland to arrange video calls in advance. Participants said this could be via letter, phone call or email.

There were a range of suggestions for information that should be provided in advance. These included what would be discussed and how long the call might last. Other suggestions were for a list of documents or information to prepare before the call.

“Name of the person I’m meeting with as this alone can reduce anxiety levels slightly. A small photo of the person I’m meeting with on the letter.” (survey respondent)

People who took part in the research had experience with a variety of different video call platforms. Most respondents (45 per cent) said they were happy to use any platform. Two in five (40 per cent) preferred Zoom.

Many participants said the main benefit of video calls was being able to see the person you’re talking to. Others said that not everyone is comfortable using their camera.

“It’s nice to see a face when you are speaking to somebody, it makes it more personal in a way, you are not speaking to a stranger on a phone, you are looking at somebody you are speaking to them, it’s more like, you don’t know them but it’s easier.” (interview participant)

“Having both the cameras on but the person having the option to turn it off…some people don’t like that. [Someone with] anxiety or body dysmorphia then maybe they don’t always want to go in front of a camera.” (interview participant)

Some mentioned different features that were important when using video calls. These included being easy to use and access, having a chat function, being able to share documents or record the call.

Participants didn’t raise specific security concerns about video calls with Social Security Scotland.

“I wouldn’t expect it to be in an office full of other people…it [security] wouldn’t really concern me, I know that steps would be taken to ensure your privacy is respected as much as possible.” (interview participant)