Purple Tuesday and the WelcoMe App
Today is Purple Tuesday – the UK’s awareness day for accessible shopping. Since the inaugural day in 2018, the aim of Purple Tuesday has been to recognise the importance and needs of disabled consumers and promote inclusive shopping. It’s named Purple Tuesday after the Purple Pound – which is the spending power of disabled people and their families. And did you know that this spending power is worth £274 billion, rising by 14% per year?
Despite this serious economic power, less than 10% of organisations have a targeted plan to access the disability market. Purple Tuesday was created in response, to encourage organisations to make public commitments to ensure sustainable changes are made to increase accessibility. The bonus for organisations is that it results in the opening up of products and services to the disability market.
Neatebox’s WelcoMe App
As part of Purple Tuesday, London Vision is highlighting Neatebox’s WelcoMe App – an app which is a game changer for businesses wanting to provide better and more inclusive services to their customers. The WelcoMe App combines a smartphone’s proximity awareness with an app that allows a visitor to interact with a service team prior to their arrival. Visitors can input their specific access needs into the app, and participating businesses will know how to assist visitors when they arrive. This also means that a visitor can interact with a service team prior to their arrival, and crucially, this interaction can be carried out automatically purely by the person approaching a building they want to visit.
Invented in 2018 by Gavin Neate, CEO and founder of Neatebox, WelcoMe became the first staff training and awareness proximity-based tool in the world and has been gathering both users and venues since its launch. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has increased the need for WelcoMe even more. Many disabled and vulnerable people have become more anxious to leave home because of the pandemic and are nervous about being able to properly observe social distance rules in the venues they wish to visit. The WelcoMe App can alleviate some of this stress. By using the app, you can be certain that the venue will know you are coming and that you will be provided with the support you need.
For example, users so far have been blown away with the service, with feedback like:
“I used WelcoMe having a mobility impairment and was met at the door by Judith who even had a fold out chair ready for me in case I needed it”.
And: “I had booked my visit to the bank with WelcoMe and it was confirmed before 9am. As usual I received fantastic service and four members of staff actually spoke to me this time. 10/10 for RBS Haddington”.
The idea for WelcoMe App
Neatebox’s founder, Gavin Neate, says the initial idea for WelcoMe came to him in 1996 when he joined Guide Dogs UK. Gavin worked as a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor (GDMI) for 18 years, and during that time he became increasingly aware of the value that technology was bringing to his clients’ lives, to the extent that by 2006 he was including Tech Talks in every single one of his classes. As a GDMI Gavin’s job was to circumnavigate problems but increasingly he saw a way in which he could use technology to help his clients in their day-to-day lives.
WelcoMe is a reflection of this. Gavin had noticed that staff, when called upon to interact with his clients, tended to miss out important pieces of information. This ranged from failing to introduce themselves, grabbing clients’ arms instead of asking about their guiding preferences, or even talking to guide dogs instead of their owners. On investigation Gavin realised that traditional staff training wasn’t providing employees with the pertinent information required to properly assist disabled people, and more often than not, training wasn’t provided at all.
Improving customer service for people with disabilities
Instead, the WelcoMe App addresses a very real need in improving customer services for all disabled people and is now available in limited venues in London. The secret to its roll out was explained by Gavin:
“For too long disabled people have had to wait and take what was given to them when and if it arrived. I wanted a business model that responded to our members. In the app we encourage people to take a more active role. We want them to tell us where they need us and to tell their local venues about the service. In this way we empower the users of our service to be in control of not only the level of service they receive in their favourite venues but to take an active role in suggesting new venues for the app”.
WelcoMe is available on both Android and Apple devices and can be found in the UK and Ireland under the name “Welcome by Neatebox”. Gavin is also keen to hear from people so please write to at firstname.lastname@example.org