Understanding disabled visitors’ needs
Disabled people often experience inadequate customer service. Visiting a venue without knowing if they’ll receive the support they need can be a source of great stress.
In order to provide the best service, businesses must understand their customers and be able to anticipate their needs. But even with regular and specialised training, staff can struggle to know how best to assist their disabled customers.
Welcome, created by Gavin Neate, removes the anxiety felt by disabled people by giving venues the information they need to deliver excellent customer service to all their visitors.
Inheriting and maintaining an existing codebase
In early 2020, we took over the design, development and maintenance of Welcome’s web platform and mobile applications. The web platform is a content management system that lets venues keep track of visits scheduled by customers. The mobile booking system allows customers to notify a venue of their arrival and accessibility requirements, so they can be confident they’ll receive the help they need.
We made improvements based on feedback from businesses and customers alike. We designed and iterated on a new onboarding experience for venues, making sure to limit the number of fields so the process did not become too time consuming for staff. Additionally, we made design improvements to the visitor apps, such as adding clear section headings to make the information easier to digest.
Helping businesses adapt to social distancing
During the COVID-19 pandemic, our agile approach has enabled us to quickly respond to new and evolving business requirements. We recognised that some of the social distancing guidelines were challenging or impossible for some visitors to follow. For autistic individuals, the changes could be confusing and anxiety-inducing, while visually-impaired shoppers might struggle with the new queuing systems outside shops and other venues.
We saw a clear need to increase usage of Welcome, to help businesses support their disabled customers. With the information provided by users of the app, staff would be able to prepare for their visits in advance, and provide appropriate support. And by integrating with the systems businesses were already using to arrange appointments, we could eliminate the need for additional training in an already busy post-lockdown period.
By integrating Welcome with Appointedd - an already widely used online booking system - we were able to launch in time for the reopening of shops and other non-essential businesses. This meant that businesses could adopt Welcome without duplicating their existing booking systems, and enhance their customer service offerings with information about their disabled visitors’ needs.
A technical investigation to enhance communication
To further personalise the communication between visitors and venues, we looked into the feasibility of building a chat app. In our search for suitable technology, we identified that rebuilding the separate Android and iOS apps into a single, cross-platform application would make the product more maintainable, and significantly reduce development time. To give the Welcome team an idea of how this could work in practice, we designed and built a cross-platform prototype for the chat app. The Welcome brand had undergone some changes, therefore we were mindful to utilise the new colour palette whilst maintaining a simple interface that could be adapted to further changes.
Eliminating barriers in hundreds of venues
Since the start of the pandemic, Welcome has helped over 300 people safely visit businesses on 1500 separate occasions. As more and more businesses adopt Welcome, they help eliminate the barriers that prevent disabled people from receiving the customer experience others often take for granted. Today, Welcome can be found in over 250 venues, including banks, shopping centres, Edinburgh Airport and the Scottish Parliament buildings.