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Why bad mobile optimisation may exclude our most vulnerable customers

29 August 2019

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As service providers look to an increasingly digitally-connected future, how can we make sure our most vulnerable customers aren’t left behind? It’s a broad question, but here we’ll look at how one particular area – mobile optimisation – could make a big difference.

Our presentation at Housing 2019 – the leading event for the housing industry – highlighted the importance of mobile optimisation as part of a digital inclusion strategy.

Good business sense

According to Google, 47% of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site. 40% have turned to a competitor’s site after a bad mobile experience. So mobile optimisation clearly makes good business sense. But what does it have to do with inclusiveness?

‘Smartphone by circumstance’

As of 2018, 90% of UK households had internet access, and 78% of people use a smartphone as one means of surfing the web. A 2018 survey by Citizens Advice found that, of those who do use the internet, one in five (20%) could only access it through their smartphone.

Ofcom published a document in 2016 entitled ‘Smartphone by circumstance’, which highlighted the fact that people who depend heavily on their smartphones as a means to access online resources and services were likely to have an unstable living situation and/or other factors which created uncertainty in their lives.

They were more likely to lack financial stability – being either unemployed or in low-paid or intermittent employment (e.g. zero-hour contracts). Many in this group were wary of taking on too many financial commitments and some had experienced problem debt. They were more likely to be living in private rented accommodation or social housing.

The benefit of mobile for vulnerable users

A 2014 study published by Vodafone explored why smartphones are a valuable tool for addressing digital exclusion. According to the report, tablets and smartphones with cellular connectivity are easy to use and technically robust, require much lesser financial commitment than a PC, are well suited to transient individuals and those with in-home mobility challenges, and come with a range of integrated capabilities (such as cameras) which many PCs lack.

The need for mobile optimisation

This means that providers who do not optimise their online services for mobile may inadvertently be excluding their most vulnerable users.

Optimising for mobile doesn’t mean spending lots of time and money building an app. Google reports that while apps can be a great way to keep users coming back, most mobile traffic still comes from the web.

A poorly-optimised mobile site doesn’t just lead to inconvenience. Cut-off text, large headers that prevent people from viewing the page, a lack of click-to-call functionality, un-playable media and 404 errors may in fact prevent smartphone users from interacting with the site altogether.

A bit about us

Tili is a free digital home move assistant that helps home movers set up their essential services online. We partner with letting agencies, estate agencies and housing associations to bring Tili to their tenants, buyers and sellers. It’s free for the end user, and rewards the partner agency with commission when their customers use it.

As a result, mobile optimisation has always been a priority for us. Many of our customers are in flux, moving between homes or coming to live in the UK from overseas. Tili users can set up their new home anywhere, from any device.

We’re part of the OVO group, which provides prepayment meter customers with a Swift app, allowing them to top up their energy without having to make a trip to their local PayPoint outlet.

If you’re a property professional, you can become a Tili partner. It’s free, there’s no set-up cost, and you can start earning revenue as soon as your customers start using the service.

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