Self-Service: Improving customer service quality in Housing

Steve Marshall
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In recent years many housing associations have been struggling to improve customer services, with ratings dropping as low as 58% in some instances. Much of this is as a result of the way housing associations manage customer interactions, be that through a call centre or Housing Officer model.

Growing pressure on customer service quality

Housing associations have significant challenges that prevent them from delivering a high level of personal service, with seven processes often identified as taking up the majority of a housing officer’s time:

•  Managing repairs

•  Recovering arrears

•  Calculating and administering service charges

•  Running the lettings process from vacancy through to tenancy renewal

•  Scheduling and conducting home visits and estate inspections

•  Managing antisocial behaviour issues

•  Preparing for new legislation

These tasks often involve a lot of paperwork, meaning housing associations are unable to operate as efficiently as needed, often resulting in issues not being resolved first time.

Simplifying, standardising and automating business processes

Industry stats suggest that costs for managing customer interactions can also differ wildly, dependent on the customer service model; around £8.21 per face-to-face customer interaction, £2.59 over the phone, with web interactions costing just £0.09.

In 2017, Notting Hill Genesis (NHG) recognised the need to improve its inefficient manual and paper procedures in order to develop its working practices, business processes and its approach to customer experience, whilst significantly reducing costs.

Working with NHG, Ensono Digital designed the WorkWise solution, which provides a better resident and employee experience by simplifying, standardising and automating key businesses processes like repairs and arrears, making them available via a single self-serve online portal.

Resident and employee needs improved through customer self-service

By allowing customers to self-serve and by automating the highly repetitive back office functions around repairs, payments and arrears, WorkWise freed housing officers from the toil of admin and allowed them to focus on building more personal relationships with residents.

The WorkWise Cloud solution has the potential to radically transform the housing sector, as the same approach can be rolled out to deliver similar benefits for other housing associations. Notting Hill Genesis is benefiting from new, mobile ways of working. Customer self-service is enabling it to drive down support costs and resolve housing issues in minutes, so tenants’ needs are met more quickly.

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