Bridging the digital divide: The significance of assisted digital services

Written by Kevin Gilhooly, Strategic Director, We Are Group

In today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world, digital literacy has become essential for individuals from all walks of life. I constantly hear about the importance of improving digital skills for customers, whether they are tenants seeking to access information easily, or job applicants navigating the online world to secure employment, or a grant or a benefits enquiry. Yet, despite the digital age’s prevalence, a significant portion of our society still feels digitally excluded. IN this blog I shall delve deeper into the issue of digital exclusion, explore its consequences, and shed light on the often overlooked but vital concept of Assisted Digital services.


The digital divide

  • In the UK, there are 2.6 million adults who are completely offline and 20.5 million adults with low or very low digital engagement (Lloyds UK Consumer Digital Index). This indicates that a significant portion of the population must gain digital skills and feel digitally included.
  • One-fifth of the UK population lacks Essential Digital Skills for work to access the internet independently (Lloyds Essential Digital Skills Report). This further highlights the digital exclusion experienced by a substantial number of individuals.
  • Research shows that people from low-income households are four times more likely to be limited users and more likely to become more excluded over time. This demonstrates how existing vulnerabilities and socioeconomic factors contribute to digital exclusion.
  • Two-thirds of people struggling with digital skills say they would be encouraged to improve if they knew support was available, and 64% would undertake training if it would aid career progression (We Are Group). This suggests that access to support and training can help bridge the digital skills gap and reduce feelings of digital exclusion.
  • Many services are online-only or offer deals exclusively online, which can lead to higher costs for individuals without digital access. Additionally, digitally excluded customers are more likely to default on payments, indicating the negative financial impact of digital exclusion.
  • Assisted digital services can provide access to products and services for customers with limited technological proficiency or impairments, ensuring inclusivity for all customers. This highlights the importance of providing support and assistance to address digital exclusion.
  • Customer feedback shows that over 94% of customers surveyed reported an increase in their overall digital confidence and skills after receiving training (We Are Group). This demonstrates the positive outcomes that can be achieved by addressing digital exclusion and providing support.


The role of assisted digital services

While many commercial and public organisations have made strides in improving digital inclusion, Assisted Digital services still need to be more emphasised. These services are designed to support individuals or groups who lack essential digital skills, offering them guidance and assistance in accessing and using digital technologies, including apps, application forms, and other digital communication platforms.

Practical examples of Assisted Digital services can be seen in daily life, such as accessing grants and applying for housing or a passport. Customers who cannot access digital services often face long phone queues and complex, time-consuming processes. However, with Assisted Digital, customers can receive immediate support to engage online, making the process more efficient and accessible. This not only simplifies their lives but also fosters buy-in from customers by demonstrating the tangible benefits of Assisted Digital. How many of us who are digitally savvy report online if our bins have been missed, taking only a couple of minutes of our time? Or need to check when our salary or pension has been paid, check our banking app. Assisted Digital can help get digitally excluded customers to this level.


The power of digital inclusion

Digital inclusion becomes most relevant when individuals see how it improves their quality of life. Consider the convenience of digitally reporting a missed bin collection or checking your banking app for the latest salary or pension payment. Assisted Digital can empower digitally excluded customers to access these services quickly and efficiently, bridging the gap between them and the digitally literate.

Moreover, Assisted Digital does not merely provide a one-time solution; it offers flexibility to customers, adapting to their changing circumstances. This ensures that individuals are not left out or excluded due to a lack of digital skills, supporting them in various aspects of their lives.


Empowering organisations and customers

Assisted Digital services play a vital role in improving customers’ digital journey and experience. By offering necessary assistance and support, these services ensure that all customers, regardless of their digital skill level, can effectively engage with digital services. This empowerment benefits customers and organisations aiming to enhance their customer experiences and outreach.

Digital inclusion is not just a buzzword; it’s a crucial aspect of our increasingly interconnected world. Organisations that recognise the importance of Assisted Digital services can significantly bridge the digital divide and ensure that no one is left behind. If you would like to learn more about how We Are Group can help your organisation implement Assisted Digital services, please do not hesitate to contact us. Together, we can build a more digitally inclusive future for all.

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