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Social Security Experience Panels: inclusive communication - visual summary

This visual summary outlines the results a survey and 9 focus groups with Experience Panel members, which asked about their views on various aspects of communication including applying for a benefit, getting help with an application and online information videos.

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Communication preferences

We asked focus group participants to tell us what they like and dislike about the different ways they might communicate with Social Security Scotland more generally.

Letter – likes

These are the things that participants said they liked about letters.

  • Physical document, creates a paper trail
  • Time to think about the information, can return to it at any time
  • Can take it to someone else for help
  • Does not need technology, reliable

"I like having something physical. It's a piece of validation and hard proof that I can use to challenge something if necessary."

"It's reliable, dependable, you don't lose it if the computer crashes."

"You can take your time and read it through. There's no chance of picking up the wrong information and it's there in paper so you can refer back to it. It means you have something to take to someone else if you don't understand something."

Letter – dislikes

These are the things that participants said they disliked about letters.

  • Slow
  • Post can 'get lost'
  • Cost of delivery
  • Environmental worries about using paper
  • Difficult for those without a permanent address
  • Difficult for those without a permanent address
  • Difficult for those who cannot read or write

"It's not readily accessible – it's slower than communicating via phone or email."

"Items go missing and people can claim they haven't got things."

Phone – likes

These are the things that participants said they liked about the phone.

  • Feels more personal
  • Can sometimes get a quick response, useful for quick queries
  • It's a two way discussion, can ask questions
  • Can be told about other information and services

"I like the phone and there are days when I can't walk. So in that respect an email, text message or letter won't get there in time so in that respect its good."

"There's a personal touch, you're speaking to a real person."

Phone – dislikes

These are the things that participants said they disliked about the phone.

  • Menu options can be confusing
  • No record of the discussion
  • Cost, concerns about security
  • Can forget or not understand, less time to think
  • Language barriers
  • Can be kept on hold and passed around different staff

"You might forget what was said or might not be able to process all the information unless you try and write it down."

Email – likes

These are the things that participants said they liked about email.

  • Quick, convenient
  • Time to think
  • There is a record of when it is sent and received
  • Easy to edit, easy to store

"You can do it in your own time, and you can take your time over it. You get a record, you can print it, if you make a mistake you can go back to it."

"If you get too many letters then you have the physical aspect of that. But you can save emails into a file and they don't get lost."

"Unlike post, as soon as you send it you have a timestamp."

Email – dislikes

  • These are the things that participants said they disliked about email.
  • Might not have access to email or know how to use it
  • Technology and internet can be unreliable
  • Concerns about security
  • Emails can 'get lost'
  • Sent and received notifications not always available
  • Seems less important compared to a letter

“People can’t afford internet or laptops or computers.”

“It isn’t feasible for people who don’t have computer skills.”

Web chat – likes

These are the things that participants said they liked about web chat.

  • Quick, direct, 'real time' help
  • Available when other communication methods are not
  • Can save a record of the conversation
  • Reduces travel and costs

"I like web chat because you can get an answer and speak to someone very quickly."

"You can do screen captures and record the conversations."

"I think web chat is brilliant, for people who can't get out of the house, who can't write or struggle."

Web chat – dislikes

These are the things that participants said they disliked about web chat.

  • Might not have access to technology or the internet or know how to use it
  • Might not be chatting to the 'right person'
  • Can feel impersonal
  • Can't see or hear who you are chatting to

"You are running the risk of getting through to a generic person – you may get half a dozen people that specialise in something but web chat just goes in a circle of who's available."

"Can't see who you're talking to."

Video call / Skype – likes

These are the things that participants said they liked about video call.

  • Convenient
  • A form of 'face to face', can see face and body language
  • Feels more personal
  • Reduces travel and costs

"It stops you being passed over from person to person like you would on a phone."

"I use skype because of my hearing. I can see body language, it helps me a lot."

"You don't need to leave the house."

Video call / Skype – dislikes

These are the things that participants said they disliked about video call.

  • Might not have access to technology or the internet or know how to use it
  • May not be compatible with assistive technology
  • Concerns about security
  • Not truly face to face

"I'm a private person. For me, I don't need the whole world seeing what I'm doing at the other end of the phone. Some days I am not comfortable presenting myself to someone."

"Can't see who you're talking to."

"Not everyone has access to a computer."

Contact

Email: Socialsecurityexperience@gov.scot

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