The difference we make..
- O2 mystery shopping
- British Gas Hive Active Heating 2 control
- Packaging usability (Marks & Spencer, BS ISO 17480, Nampak)
- Mobility scooters on test
- Smart meter displays - design guidelines
- Age UK Trading mystery shopping
Rica (now the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers) and Business Disability Forum (BDF) were commissioned by O2 to identify:
- What disabled customers expect from a communication provider.
- The experience of disabled people accessing O2's services.
- What constitutes ‘excellence’ with regard to meeting the needs of disabled customers.
As part of the research Rica conducted 72 mystery shopping inspections across three O2 channels: voice, online and stores. Each channel was reviewed by 24 participants with a range of disabilities and long-term conditions through a mixture of billing, technical and sales enquiries.
Commenting on how O2 has used the outputs of the project. Charlotte Hall, Head of Regulation for Complaints & Accessibility said:
See full Case Sudy Report
As part of the product’s design process, British Gas worked with Rica to independently test Hive Active Heating 2 and its full range of new heating controls with older and disabled consumers.
Rica undertook usability tests of the Hive 2 thermostat using our consumer research panel of older and disabled people testing Hive 2 for accessibility to identify points of pain and pleasure and provide qualitative and quantitative data to support our findings. We were pleased that the interactive heating control’s design now has many suggestions made by our consumer testing panel, including:
- improved colour contrast on the display
- tactile textured feedback
- smoother operation of the selection dial
For more information: see latest news here.
Rica has been commissioned to test packaging with members of our Consumer Panel. Case studies include:
- Testing to new industry Standard Packaging Accessible Design - ease of opening Ease of Opening (BS ISO 17480 : 2015)
- Marks & Spencer 'Frustration Free' packaging project (2010-11)
- Nampak plastic milk bottles (2008-10) – Infini and ‘Keep a handle
Scooters are growing in popularity, and there’s a lot of variation in design, particularly around the controls.
Rica carried out research looking at scooter safety and the ease-of-use of controls, including
- Usability tests of 7 scooters with 16 members of Rica’s consumer research panel. Our testers tried a range of driving tasks and reported back on what they found easy and difficult.
- A focus group with 9 experts to discuss safety and usability issues.
Testers had a range of visual and dexterity impairments. Some were experienced scooter users, others novices. We tested large scooter models designed for the road as well as pavement and boot scooters. Our research findings are published online as
- a research report on the usability of mobility scooter controls
- a consumer guide, Choosing a mobility scooter, which has detailed information on controls.
Our research was funded by the Motability Tenth Anniversary Trust.
All homes in Great Britain will have a smart meter installed by 2019 and be given an in-home display (IHD) to show their energy consumption. Rica believes it’s crucial that these displays are easy forall consumers to use, including those that are older or have a disability.
Our work also led to a new requirement in the Government’s technical specification requiring new IHDs to: ‘…enable the information to be easily accessed and presented in a form that is clear and easy to understand including by consumers with impaired: Sight; Memory and learning ability; Perception and attention; or Dexterity.'
The Government also specifically referenced the good practice guidelines on inclusive IHD design produced by Rica published by Consumer Focus.
It's important to ensure that older consumers can easily find good quality products that suit their needs and aren't pressurised into buying.
- Working with Age UK Trading since 2007 Rica has been able to confirm that their stairlifts, mobility scooter, specialist beds and bathing aids trading partners are doing a good job and treating customers well.
- Using our unique national mystery shopping panel Rica reported back on sales practices. We were also able to benchmark against competitors.
- Rica’s research had included hundreds of home visit and telephone investigations. Our trained panel members reported on their experiences of contacting the companies, the sales visit, the information provided by the companies and any follow up.
Last updated: May 2018