Increasingly, housing associations are becoming interested in how they can build a better relationship with their tenants. The concept of trust and rebuilding it is at the forefront of this movement.
The National Housing Federation unveiled a plan to improve the relationship between housing associations and tenants last year. They launched ‘Together with Tenants’ to help ensure that their core services; from repairs to complaint handling are delivered to a high standard and consistency. It sets out a charter that covers, relationships, communication, voice and influence, accountability, quality and when things go wrong.
Considering the focus of Together with Tenants and other initiatives housing associations are putting in place to improve the tenant experience, this article will explore ways technology can help them.
It’s a Challenge but not Mission Impossible
Tenant’s service expectations are constantly shifting and funding is still at an all-time low. So, it’s safe to say improving the tenant experience was always going to be a challenge. A challenge, but not mission impossible. So apart from the financial side, what else is making it arduous for housing associations?
Limited Human Resources
Housing is not only hindered by low financial resources, but by a lack of human resource. Struggling to attract and retain talent due to the fact they are typically slower to move away from multiple clunky systems and to adopt new ways of working. Compounded further by non-contact centre staff who are unfamiliar with the systems having to take calls to provide a better service.
Internal Processes are Clunky
Usually when you have clunky systems, your processes are clunky too. Tenant representatives are usually bogged down by unnecessary drudge that could just be automated, or various systems that mean a data entry task that could take one minute, takes ten. This all has a serious impact on your tenants’ experience by increasing response times, margins for error and making prioritisation harder.
Contact Centre Agent Motivation
With flurries of enquiries ranging from maintenance issues to generic questions about rent coming into the contact centre for housing associations plus the limited human resource factor; it’s easy to see why agents are overloaded. It’s no surprise that motivation is an issue when you’ve got all this and regularly need to handle stressful situations, tenant complaints and a slow, convoluted system. Something that raised morale wouldn’t go amiss, eh?
Leveraging Tech to Tackle the Challenges (and Improve the Tenant Experience)
We know that technology isn’t always the answer (well, sometimes it’s not), but for housing associations, we’re tackling the challenges by helping with the following, through clever technology!
Taking the Drudge Away from Contact Centre Agents
The agents in housing association contact centres are really up against it. The good news is you can help them to deliver a much better service by taking away a lot of the drudge they have to deal with on a daily basis.
INBOX works outside the contact centre to act as a triage that can scale, handling very large volumes. It can automatically read, respond, or route messages; only passing ones that need to go into the contact centre for the right agent to resolve. It also helps to organise and categorise interactions coming into the contact centre by business context or channel with smart tagging and search filters. This means agents only see what’s relevant to them and aren’t bogged down with interactions that aren’t of concern. Responses to certain enquiries can be completely automated.
We’ve already mentioned before that self-serve is the way to go for housing associations. Technologies like conversational AI and chatbots help to remove the drudge away from agents by empowering tenants to self-serve with their simple enquiries and questions and be used as a mechanism to gather all the necessary information before putting a call through to an agent.
Provide an Effective Service on Social Media
Increasingly, social media is becoming a channel that tenants are turning to in order to vent, get their issues resolved and engage with housing associations. It’s convenient, quick and easy for the tenant to send a post or direct message.
Embracing this shift to social media is difficult for some organisations, but it can be made a lot easier with the help of INBOX. It can not only route social media messages into the contact centre, it can also analyse sentiment, enable you to pinpoint specific geographic locations and act as your content scheduler too! Your housing association will be able to provide a much more comprehensive and reliable service on social media channels.
Reward and Motivate your Agents
Technology can not only help your agents by offloading some of their workload through automation and self-serve, but also by increasing their motivational levels. Solutions like REWARDS enable you to set appropriate targets for all staff in the contact centre. It will reward contact centre agents for meeting personalised objectives and targets. This is done through points and bonuses. You can even set up tournaments and game battles to help create an element of competition to drive KPIs.
The targets could easily be aligned with principles like those outlined in the Together with Tenants charter. For instance tenant care scores and quality assurance points.
Improved Tenant Experiences for a Reduced Cost
To meet the ever-increasing expectations of tenants, housing associations need to embrace digital transformation. Technology has the ability not only empower agents, remove clunky processes and make your tenant services more efficient; it’s actually kinder on your budget as well.
We can’t change the fact that funding and rent is being cut, but our solutions are much cheaper than trying to run a clunky monolith. They are all priced based on consumption or per user. This cloud model means that your business is only paying for what you use. Enabling you to improve the tenant experience, whilst reducing costs.
If you’d like to find out more about us and the technologies we’ve spoken about in this article why not come and see us at Housing Technology 2020?