Yesterday Tom and I went on a visit to one of our older person schemes St. Albans Court, with the aim to find out whether wifi is an issue. Sarah Jones and Phil Simpson invited us to afternoon tea to have a chat over a brew about what they get up to each day and if wifi access would make any of that easier.
Unlike the visits Tom previously went on (to Beacon Court and Vine Square), it was well known to our customers what the meeting was for. The word wifi was printed off and stuck on the door which of course then provides a room full of people with an interest in wifi. This meant that the hope of an organic approach where customers could slowly come to the idea of internet access being a help to what they do day to day was out the window. Instead of asking questions about their hobbies, interests and daily tasks we began with asking about wifi use as it stands.
The customers who regularly wish to access wifi do so through other means. They travel to café hot spots, their children or grandchildren pay for phone contracts with data, they travel to libraries or they pass on errands to people they know who can get on wifi to sort it. One customer explained that ultimately yes there is a way around the problem but they don't want there to have to be.
Customers took the opportunity to discuss other issues they have with the scheme with us such as phone signal. The signal, or lack of in their case, was of much higher importance than the idea of any new service. A more traditional form of communication is what they thought of first so when we spoke of how that problem might be helped with wifi (with the help of messaging apps and making calls that way) they seemed happy to discuss other capabilities.
The key points to take away from this visit are:
- Not everyone would find use for it.
- At what cost? Customers spoke of how most of them at the scheme don't have a landline because to them a mobile does the job and it cuts down on bills.
- Unlike with the younger schemes, these customers don't seem to use wifi to generally browse, say on YouTube. It was a tool for errands such as applying for a job or getting their shopping.
It was interesting to hear the difference between what these customers feel is important in comparison to other customers and the one thing we are sure of is that whatever we decide to test will be tailor made on a scheme by scheme basis. There isn't a one size fits all approach for this.