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Case studies

The difference we make..

O2 : Providing insight from disabled customers

Rica (now the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers) and Business Disability Forum (BDF) were commissioned by O2 to identify:

  1. What disabled customers expect from a communication provider.
  2. The experience of disabled people accessing O2's services.
  3. What constitutes ‘excellence’ with regard to meeting the needs of disabled customers.

As part of the research Rica conducted 72 mystery shopping inspections across three O2 channels: voice, online and stores. Each channel was reviewed by 24 participants with a range of disabilities and long-term conditions through a mixture of billing, technical and sales enquiries.

Commenting on how O2 has used the outputs of the project. Charlotte Hall, Head of Regulation for Complaints & Accessibility said:

“The outputs from the research project conducted by the Business Disability Forum and RICA have played an integral part in shaping our strategy for supporting customers with disabilities. Providing insight into what disabled customers expect together with their experience is particularly helpful...

See full Case Sudy Report

Usability: British Gas Hive Active Heating 2

As part of the product’s design process, British Gas worked with Rica to independently test Hive Active Heating 2 and its full range of new heating controls with older and disabled consumers. British Gas Hive Active 2 thermostat control

Rica undertook usability tests of the Hive 2 thermostat using our consumer research panel of older and disabled people testing Hive 2 for accessibility to identify points of pain and pleasure and provide qualitative and quantitative data to support our findings. We were pleased that the interactive heating control’s design now has many suggestions made by our consumer testing panel, including:

  • improved colour contrast on the display
  • tactile textured feedback
  • smoother operation of the selection dial

For more information: see latest news here.



Marks & Spencer  and Nampak packaginghands opening a jar

Rica has been commissioned to test packaging with members of our Consumer Panel. Case studies include:

Mobility scooters tested for ease of use

Scooters are growing in popularity, and there’s a lot of variation in design, particularly around the controls.

Rica  carried out research looking at scooter safety and the ease-of-use of controls, including

Testers had a range of visual and dexterity impairments. Some were experienced scooter users, others novices. We tested large scooter models designed for the road as well as pavement and boot scooters. Our research findings are published online as

Our research was  funded by the Motability Tenth Anniversary Trust.

Smart metering – how easy are in-home displays?

smart meter displaysAll homes in Great Britain will have a smart meter installed by 2019 and be given an in-home display (IHD) to show their energy consumption. Rica believes it’s crucial that these displays are easy forall consumers to use, including those that are older or have a disability.

Working with Consumer Focus (now Consumer Futures) Rica carried out extensive usability testing of prototype IHDs. We published 3 smart metering research reports.

Our work also led to a new requirement in the Government’s technical specification requiring new IHDs to: ‘…enable the information to be easily accessed and presented in a form that is clear and easy to understand including by consumers with impaired: Sight; Memory and learning ability; Perception and attention; or Dexterity.

The Government also specifically referenced the good practice guidelines on inclusive IHD design produced by Rica published by Consumer Focus.

Mystery shopping confirms Age UK Trading good sales practices

It's important to ensure that older consumers can easily find good quality products that suit their needs and aren't pressurised into buying.

  • Working with Age UK Trading since 2007 Rica has been able to confirm that their stairlifts, mobility scooter, specialist beds and bathing aids trading partners are doing a good job and treating customers well.
  • Using our unique national mystery shopping panel Rica reported back on sales practices. We were also able to benchmark against competitors.
  • Rica’s research had included hundreds of home visit and telephone investigations. Our trained panel members reported on their experiences of contacting the companies, the sales visit, the information provided by the companies and any follow up.

Last updated: May 2018

See also: Our consumer research panelResearch reports