New, different and important. Post COVID-19 Inclusive Insights.

By Christine Hemphill | 10th June 2020

Since mid-April, Open Inclusion has been conducting a daily diary study with a small cohort of people across the UK with various lived experiences of disability. From this, we can share interesting and practical insights on what people with specific access needs are experiencing and how to design customer experiences (CX) that ensure that new and changing diverse needs are met during this period.

Each weekday for 6 weeks, 13 people with a broad range of lived experiences of disability, assistive technology preferences and usage, demographics, and living/household characteristics have been sharing their experiences with us. We have focussed on 6 core themes that we felt were particularly important through this period:

  • Communication
  • Getting food and basics
  • Personal finances
  • Health and fitness
  • Work, and
  • Leisure and entertainment

6 key themes each with an icon and a different colour

From these insights, we have summarised findings both longitudinally across time, and across themes. We have shared the analysis of the research in open sessions to all. We hope that it is useful to help organizations who are trying to respond rapidly, responsibly, and efficiently to support their customers and employees with disabilities through this period.

Disability and age-inclusive customer experience post COVID-19

Challenging and changing periods increase the value and power of customer experience, more deeply impacting purchasing decisions, advocacy, and long-term loyalty. Make this work for, rather than against your brand. Design for all, especially at this moment where the costs of exclusion can be so high to those more vulnerable to severe consequences if they contract the virus.

“In today’s complex and fast-moving world, what we need even more than foresight or hindsight is insight”

Napoleon Bonaparte

Links to our presentations

Our first presentation was held on the 22nd May covering the first 2 weeks of the study, specifically looking at the themes of getting food and basics and communications. Here is the YouTube video of the Zoom session.

A copy of the presentation can be found here if you prefer to go through it at your own pace without our commentary.

Our second presentation was held on the 9th June as part of the Digital Leaders Virtual Conference. Clicking on the link below will open a new page with the video from the Conference. When you’ve finished you can just click the back button and it will bring you back to this post if you would like.


In this presentation, we cover off the emotional and practical changes we perceived in the 3rd and 4th weeks of the study (4th – 18th May) and the next two themes of personal finances and health and fitness.

Our final presentation was held on Friday 26th June. In that session, we reviewed the changes noted by our research participants in the final fortnight of the study and covered the themes of work and leisure/entertainment in more detail. We also considered what the end of government-mandated lockdown may mean for the participants. What they now are concerned or excited about as the stay-at-home order ends and the next period of change commences.

We also have some tips for how businesses may consider customer experience and inclusive design through this period of ongoing change. Please also refer to our earlier article about changing lines of inclusion and exclusion and managing customer experience in a period of unprecedented change for more on this adaptive process.

Your customers and staff needs have changed, and are still changing.

Do your products, services and environments suit these new and adapting needs?

Please contact us if you would like to learn more about how your customer needs have shifted and what you can do to better support them. We can present specific insights tailored to help your team or business adapt services and products to better meet the new and changing needs of customers. This helps retain current customers through challenging times and attract new customers whose needs haven’t been met elsewhere.

We can support you with brand-specific user research leveraging the most appropriate and efficient approach from a wide variety of research methodologies. From surveys to journey testing and much in between, we can ensure that you are making decisions on the current, relevant needs and preferences of customers and staff. All our research can be run remotely through this period.

Wayfinding, signage and the built environment

As the lockdown is now easing and people are heading into public and commercial spaces more, such as retail or service environments and possibly back to the office, adapting the built environment to reduce risks and increase confidence will be increasingly important.

Our friends at Applied Wayfinding have created a COVID-19 Design Toolkit that is free for anyone to access and use. It has sign templates and icons along with placement advice for different areas to support effective social distancing and reduce confusion for people navigating through public or commercial spaces in these changed conditions. If you or someone in your team is responsible for the built environment signage and flow management of space users, please go and download the Toolkit. It is excellent!

We look forward to seeing you all again soon. However, for now, stay healthy and happy and enjoy reviewing some fresh insights from Open Inclusion’s panel from the links above.