Friday, 29 March 2013

Home Computer

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Working in housing or general IT nobody can have missed that channel shifting going on, to try to drive customer requests towards the web.

I was only with a customer this week where they are looking to make this a reality to reduce customer service centre traffic and also improve satisfaction. The latter a tall order as there is a battle to drive the general public onto the internet to access services and particularly those categorised as “Digitally Excluded”. Top of the list include many residents in social housing and the elderly.

In the UK, government agencies have seen huge success in driving much traffic on-line and reducing back office jobs. Some that I use a lot are buying my car tax disk and filing income tax/vat on a regular basis. These work very well and have weaned us off using a post office (dwindling in number) or local tax offices by providing the convenience of doing it yourself.

Universal Credit, just a few days off now is structured around internet access being key. Putting aside the flaws of bedroom tax and other aspects of changes, this will be a big ask, particularly for many claimants who have had no real access to computers or web enabled smartphones. This news article from Wales earlier this month highlights some of the difficulties.

Indeed, the community library at Grappenhall (see  that I am involved with, has a catchment area of affluent retirees, who are cash poor and need a way to access benefits. In a climate where we are losing libraries because its perceived we all use the internet to garner our information, the community library is proving a useful hub in helping these people access the benefits to which they are entitled.  

A number of RSL’s have woken up to the agenda of digital exclusion and are doing what they can to provide access for residents, also silver surfer training. This can save £250 or more annually on shopping costs as well as plugging them in to the new online benefits culture. In theory, particularly older claimants can be signing up to all the benefits they don’t know about currently, as with UC they will all be in one place.

Johnnie Johnson Housing Trust are one local to me that I am aware of that are providing internet access at many of their retirement schemes. They have also provided some degree of training and shared access equipment where practicable which is fantastic for their customers. While nobody would claim this was a silver (surfer) bullet, it’s a great step forward and over a couple of years has increased internet penetration for them from around and estimated 6% to nearer 40%. Not to forget too, the wifi provided can also be used by housing staff to access main systems via the internet or Citrix Receiver. I have myself become a fan of ‘Receiver’ using it on an iPad touch. It’s easily usable on even a small device like that for small amounts of work, rather than spending much more cash on dedicated mobile solutions.

Another avenue is the refurb of old smartphone kit for the digitally excluded and supply ultra-cheap or nearly free. See A great idea and a super name in ‘Silverline’ geddit? Now this is one angle that might work for our demographic. It would be hoped that sons & daughters might gift tablets to their parents to get them on-line, but older devices and targeted apps might be the way forward.

If you have some initiatives on-going as usual, please get in touch. Thanks everyone for getting in contact, feedback always welcome!

Read on to : The Channel shift Agenda - Are you embracing it?

You can link with me on LinkedIn here - It would be great to connect !

Kraftwerk - Home Computer.

(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting 07854-655009

PS If there are subjects you might like me to tackle on this blog, please get in touch and let me know!

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks Tony this is really useful, good idea about the reuse and recycling of smart phones. With RBH in Rochdale our work so far has shown there is a significant minority of people who for various reasons don't see IT in any format as 'for them' - we hope to utilise all our colleagues across the business to try and convince and show IT solutions as relevant and easy to use for as many Rochdale residents as possible. As staff we may also need some support to do this.