Digital exclusion

Times are tough, right? So no business could afford to alienate 12% of its customer base could it? No sector could afford to overlook consumer spending in the region of £119 million a year could they? Well, we’ll see.

I’ve written lately about integration being something that consumers expect and that I certainly get pretty frustrated when the real world and the online world are not connected properly. As it turns out, there is quite a lot of this going on right under my nose!

The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign’s young campaigner’s network, the Trailblazers, launched the campaign ‘Lights, Cameras Access’ on Monday. Following some very poor experiences at cinemas for Laura and Judith Merry and Chris Beaumont, the ball started rolling culminating in this campaign and report by 100 Trailblazers investigating the service for disabled customers at 125 cinema across the UK. They highlighted lots of issues, but what stood out to me was the way disabled customers were getting a 2nd class service online as much as in the real world. Surely it’s easy and cheap enough to allow disabled people to compete their booking online? Apparently not:

“I can choose my ticket and allocate a seat for myself, but I can’t seem to add the ‘Free Carer’, even though it is an option’

Mathy Selvakunaran, The Big Picture, page five

It seems that the only option to fully complete the booking is to do it the old fashion way, face to face. Now I pretty much do everything online, I don’t want to queue or talk to staff if I can go online and I don’t see why wheelchair users are not getting the same service I am – their ticket isn’t any cheaper than mine.

When people are managing to conduct their cinema booking online, they are sometimes having an experience a bit like mine with Currys, the real world and the web world are not connected properly and customer service is suffering as a result:

‘I once bought a ticket online where it said nothing on the website about the lift not working. When I got there. I found out it wasn’t working so I had to struggle up lots of steep stairs’

Alexandra Dorrington, The Big Picture, page eight

Another opportunity lost! Your website is there to distribute up to date information about your product, business or charity. So use it to! Please!

This blog is just focused on what stood out to me – the digital experience, but it’s a bigger issue than that. The Trailblazers have written a charter that they want cinemas to sign up to and are collecting signatures for a petition calling on cinema owners and operators to guarantee that disabled cinema-goers can expect the same quality of service as non-disabled customers. I’ve signed it and you can to.

If you want to know more, the Trailblazers have made a documentary to explain it all that will be released later this year, here’s the trailer:

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About medavep
I work in the UK charity sector and sometimes I blog about fundraising, digital and consumer experience. Sometimes I just moan.

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