Social Security Experience Panels: communicating by phone

This report considers client’s views on contacting Social Security Scotland by phone.

Reasons for calling Social Security Scotland

Respondents were asked why they would want to call Social Security Scotland.

Almost nine in ten respondents said they would ever call to check on the status of their application (all or most of the time, sometimes or rarely, 90 per cent) or to get advice on their eligibility (87 per cent). The least popular reason for calling was to get information or links to other services or support groups, where almost a quarter of respondents (24 per cent) said they would never call for those reasons.

Table 9: Respondent reasons for contacting Social Security Scotland (n=144-154)

Reason All or Most of the time (%) Sometimes (%) Rarely or Never (%) Would ever call[9](%)
To check the status of my application 50 28 22 90
To get advice on my eligibility 38 34 28 87
To make an application 32 32 36 82
To get help with an application 30 30 40 82
To get information about visiting agency offices 30 32 37 82
To make a complaint or provide feedback 37 22 39 80
To request a home visit 42 24 34 78
To get information or links to other services or support groups 24 34 42 76

We asked respondents why they would choose to do these tasks by phone.

For some respondents, calling was an easy way to immediately communicate with Social Security Scotland:

'If I require advice immediately, it is the fastest option…'

This was by far the most common reason referenced by respondents.

Others felt it was the best way to get an answer to specific questions:

'Because it's quicker and better at times if you have a query to speak to someone. It allows you to ask relevant questions and immediate answers.'

Many respondents told us that they preferred using their phones to going online:

'I prefer telephone contact rather than new technology.'

Some respondents felt this way as they did not feel confident using a computer:

'Well sometimes I'm not confident enough to do all things online and to talk to a person makes things easier.'

Respondents who had health conditions that made travelling difficult felt that calling allowed them to communicate with the agency without having to leave home:

'Because I am disabled, I have never been in a DWP office in my life, I doubt it would be accessible…'

Others just preferred doing things online, only using the phone if they needed to get additional support or advice:

'I'd only do some things by phone where I needed extra support or advice. Normally I prefer online communication.'

Finally, some respondents told us they preferred using the phone as it was easier than paper forms:

''Sometimes paperwork is very complex. If you are talking to a person and don't understand what they are saying you can ask them to explain it another way.'

A few respondents told us that they would not want to use the phone to do any of the tasks above. Some said they would want a written record of correspondence and this could not be done by phone:

'I would not use the phone because it gives me no record of what was said or agreed.'

'I prefer all communication in writing. […] I have had extremely bad experiences in the past with the people I have dealt with…'

Other respondents told us their disability prevented them from using the phone:

'As I have hearing loss, I would only use the phone as a last resort.'

'I can't cope with making phone calls or answering the phone.'


Email: James.Miller@gov.Scot

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