Member Blog: Steven Cocker, Three

Steven Cocker, Three, explores the benefits of accessibility technology in retail and customer service

There’s no denying the importance of connectivity and access to digital services for all parts of society. Being disconnected has a significant social and economic impact - online access can save people up to £744[1] per year, and 66% of regular internet users feel happier due to more social contact[2].

However, it’s estimated that 48% of those without online access or skills have a have a disability or long standing health issue[3]. At Three, we believe we have a responsibility to make it possible for everyone to be able to access and use the latest mobile technology.

This means making our customer service and retail teams accessible to the disabled community. To make this a reality, we have focused on developing close working relationships with key technology partners that supply the tools to empower our disabled customers to not only buy the right product, but also own the relationship with Three, rather than rely on a third party.

We use a range of technologies so that people with disabilities have a choice about how they interact with us, rather than being forced into a single channel that may not be their preference. This includes:

·         In store video relay – currently in four trial stores across the UK, British Sign Language (BSL) users can now communicate directly with store staff via a BSL interpreter on a dedicated iPad. This allows our specially trained staff to help with purchases and customer services enquiries there and then, offering the best in store experience.

·         Online video relay – we have been working with Sign Solutions to offer this service online for over three years. Customers can interact with an interpreter on the Three website, using their webcam, tablet or mobile device.

·         Web chat – online web chat allows customers to talk directly to a dedicated support team to discuss their needs or resolve any issues.

·         Text services – we also offer text to voice services using Minicom and Text Relay and the Next Generation Text Service (NGTS).

These are in addition to our customer service team being contactable via phone, email and post.

Developing a strong working relationship with our partners has been key to really understanding the needs of all our customers and ensuring we’re able to provide the best service.

By having a range of options, retailers can offer real choice and empowerment to the disabled community, improving the customer service experience, and making sure they can benefit from the online world.


[1] Lloyds Bank Consumer Digital Index

[2] The Good Things Foundation Digital Nation 2017

[3] The Good Things Foundation, June 2017

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