Doing More with Less: Why Housing Associations need to rely more on Self–Serve

It goes without saying, housing associations are under the cosh. With a severe housing shortage and the uncertainty of Brexit looming; action needs to be taken now to enable housing associations to operate more self-sufficiently.

Housing associations are under resourced and with rent and funding cuts happening consistently; they’re also under financed. Quickly, housing associations are starting to realise the role that digital will play in creating an organisation that’s able to do more, with less. Digital transformation presents many opportunities for housing associations, enabling them to get the ball back in their court. With one of them being the technology to help introduce self-serve.

What is self-serve anyway?

You know those machines in supermarkets where you’re able to scan your own products; greatly improved since they were first introduced.

Unexpected item in the bagging area

– any supermarket self-serve machine when it was first implemented.

But now, the technology has moved on and is operating to make supermarket checkouts more efficient and get shoppers in and out as quickly as possible. Evolving still, it looks like smartphone applications are set to replace self-serve checkouts eventually, demonstrating the development of the technology.

And increasingly, we’re starting to see self-serve become more prevalent in other businesses. Chatbots, Conversational AI, Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC), they all help increase efficiency and the speed customer service enquiries are dealt with. Some solutions may not even require the intervention of a human.

There’s more at stake than you think

You might think implementing self-serve in your housing association is a choice, however you’d be wrong to assume this. Customer expectations and trends are changing and it’s something housing cannot afford to ignore.

Customers expect all businesses in every industry to achieve ‘digital parity’. Essentially being able to offer all the advantages and be easy to do business with, as the best of what your customer has encountered online and in self-service solutions.

The cost of not implementing successful self-service is that your customers will be dissatisfied, continue to clog up your phones and dis you on social media.

The best self-serve technologies for housing associations

Out of all the requests occurring in the contact centre for housing associations, how many could be answered with a self-serve solution? Thereby taking away simple requests from your contact centre agents and enabling them to spend more time resolving complex cases and enquiries. Plus providing your tenants with the answers they need quickly and efficiently.

Here are our best self-serve technologies that you need to implement within your housing association. We’ll be showcasing all of these this year at Housing 2019 next week, make sure you come to stand P4 and ask for a demo. 

Say hello to Ami (Conversational AI)

Ami is our Conversational AI agent, she’s revolutionary and will work alongside your contact centre agents to help reduce the amount of requests coming in via the phone. She’s not there to replace humans, but complement your existing contact centre team.

She’s set up with just 12 lines of code and works by pulling through the information on your website. Ami learns from having real-life conversations with your tenants; responding quickly and accurately to web enquiries. Unlike their human counterparts Conversational AI agents don’t need energy drinks to stay awake. They are available 27/7, 365.

What’s more, Conversational AI teamed with Robotic Process Automation (RPA) will mean that human intervention might not even be necessary. The backend processes can be entirely automated. For example, maintenance requests that come through Ami. The tenant can log the problem, with pictures; then RPA can schedule in an appointment with the repair contractors and send a confirmation to the tenant.

Enriched customer experiences with WebRTC

It’s a common problem, your users typically need to leave your web page and interrupt their browsing session to contact a customer service representative. WebRTC solutions, like WebCall help you to meet your customers on your website. Enabling them to call at the click of a button and put real-time communication capabilities into web browsers, connecting back up to your contact centre for easy tenant handling.

Using the co-browsing capability your agents could help vulnerable tenants through form completions, repairs, or house selection. They can also act as a bridge to self-serve, educating those along the way who struggle to use self-service.

The self-serve process is seamless and the tenant can continue browsing your website whilst their enquiry is dealt with.

Social media self-serve

Now more than ever, social media plays a vital role in the customer journey. It’s the crucial piece of the puzzle of self-serve. Customers take to it to rant, make enquiries and in rare cases post something positive (yes, it does happen). You need to make sure you’re aware of all customers self-serving on social media in all instances so that you can respond to them. Transparency is key here.

We’ve got a technology, SocialCRM Connect enables you to monitor all your social channels. It’s able to gauge customer sentiment both for your housing association (and your competitors). Its smart functionality enables you to integrate it with any contact centre solution or CRM system. 

Relying more on self-serve

Increasingly, self-serve is going to become a vital asset for overstretched housing associations to use. It will enable them to cut costs, improve their customer experience, respond to enquiries quicker and focus on other areas of the organisation; get the ball back in your court.  

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Daisy Shevlin

Marketing Content Executive

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