Social Security Experience Panels - appointments and local delivery: report

This report outlines the Social Security Experience Panels views expressed in a survey and focus groups on Social Security Scotland appointments and local delivery.

This document is part of a collection

At the appointment

Speaking to same person each time

Sometimes it may take more than one appointment to resolve a client’s issue. In these circumstances, we wanted to understand whether the client would rather speak to the same person each time, or was happy speaking to different members of staff.

Respondents were asked if they would like to speak to the same person at each appointment. It was made clear that we were not referring to speaking to the same person every time they contacted Social Security Scotland – instead it was explained that we are referring to circumstances where they had to have multiple appointments to discuss a discrete issue. 

It was also made clear to respondents that there was a trade-off between both answers. If was explained that if people wanted to speak to the same person each time, this may mean a more personal level of service, however the downside may be increased waiting times, especially if the individual member of staff is on holiday or has a particularly high case load. Alternatively, if people wanted to speak to a different person each time, it may reduce waiting times at the cost of familiarity with individual cases.

Almost all respondents said it was ‘very important’ or ‘important’ that they speak to the same person each time (98 per cent). Just two per cent said it was ‘not that important’ and no one said it was ‘not important at all’.

Table 29: How important is it to speak to the same person each time? (n=438)



Very important




Not that important




Respondents gave various reasons for wanting to speak to the same staff member at each appointment. For many, it was about ‘not having to explain their issue each time they called’. Others felt that there was a risk of their information being lost or forgotten. A small number felt that having the same employee interact with them each time would lead to a more personalised service.

Focus group participants were slightly more mixed in their views. A greater number of them were more comfortable speaking to a different person each time if it improved waiting times, and if there was a robust case management system meaning staff were able to quickly understand the important facts about their case. 

“To be honest, it wouldn’t bother me as long as all the information is held centrally, which then is in front of them [staff].”

Some participants felt it was unlikely that staff would be able to remember individual cases anyway.

“They might deal with 300 people in between your two appointments. If you think that they remember you then I think you’re sadly mistaken.”

Generally those who prioritised speed said they would be happy speaking to different people, with some even expressing concern that Social Security Scotland trying to accommodate the expectation of a single point of contact could cause delays. 

However these views were still in the minority, and most participants still said they would prefer to speak to the same staff member at each appointment, even if that meant waiting several weeks for an appointment. 

“Having consistency is important…”

Some felt that they would want to speak to the same person every time they contacted Social Security Scotland, and not just for appointments, although many participants felt this wasn’t likely to be practical. 

Overall, participants raised similar reasons for wanting to have a single point of contact with Social Security Scotland, primarily:

  • Not having to explain themselves over and over;
  • Fear of information being lost;
  • Having someone ‘know’ them and their needs; and
  • Having a more personalised service.

Appointment Duration

Survey respondents were asked how long they felt their first appointment should last. Over seven in ten respondents felt an appointment should last longer than 15 minutes (72 per cent), and four in ten felt it should last longer than 20 minutes (43 per cent). Just over one in ten felt appointments should last longer than 30 minutes (12 per cent).

Table 30: How long should the first appointment last? (n=535)



Between 5-10 minutes


Between 10-15 minutes


Between 15-20 minutes


Between 20-25 minutes


Between 25-30 minutes


Over 30 minutes




In the future, Social Security Scotland may allow third parties to book appointments on behalf of their clients. 

Just under three in ten respondents said a third party, such as an advocate or a carer had booked an appointment for them in the past (28 per cent).

Table 31: Have you ever had a third party book an appointment for you? (n=501)









Respondents were asked how comfortable they would be if a third party could book an appointment on their behalf. Eight in ten respondents said they were either completely comfortable or quite comfortable with this (80 per cent), with just over two in ten saying they were not that comfortable, or not comfortable at all (21 per cent).

Table 32: How comfortable would you be if a third party could book an appointment on your behalf? (n=544)



Completely comfortable


Quite comfortable


Not that comfortable


Not comfortable at all






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