How can technology add value to Social Housing organisations?

Matt_Barnes_Maintel

10th December 2020

by Matt Barnes

Head of Public Sector at Maintel

The need for social housing in the UK has never been greater, homelessness is on the rise and the supply of affordable housing is low. 

Providers are under increasing pressure; regulation has decreased rental rates and customer expectations continue to rise. Innovation has an important part to play in almost every aspect of the social housing operating model, from improving the tenant service experience, to driving operating efficiency, and enhancing employee engagement. 

In this blog, we will consider four ways that technology can help add value to housing organisations: 

 

1. Transform the tenant experience 

 Tenants now expect as keen a focus on customer experience and value from their social housing experience, as they would from other common commercial transactions. From enquiries to service provision, expectations are increasing. So, the experience must be easy, informative, and available through a range of contact channels, as failure to quickly handle enquiries can result in dissatisfaction. Tenants expect quality accommodation services, the ability to easily contact their provider, and that rent rises are minimised.  

 All social housing interactions, whether searching for new accommodation, paying the rent, or getting the plumber to fix a leaky tap, must be easily accessible and effectively handled. Innovative technology can help transform the tenant service experience and enable a greater number of enquiries to be resolved. Leveraging call centre technology enables tenant interactions to be managed seamlessly and efficiently via multiple channels and ensures that the most appropriate person responds to that enquiry.  

 

2. Enhance employee engagement

Social housing organisations typically collaborate with many different agencies and are dependent on good communications to operate efficiently and provide a quality public service. Making sure your employees are engaged, motivated, and digitally enabled is key to maximising their satisfaction. Providers also need to be mindful of attracting and retaining employees. By providing easy access to information and collaboration tools, they can significantly improve the workplace experience to achieve this 

The latest technology can help to improve staff morale, increase motivation, and enhance productivity by relieving employees from repetitive tasks and automating processes. Resolving basic enquiries using AI chatbots and prioritising urgent calls, ensures that non-urgent customer requests can be handled without human intervention. Scale communications with large numbers of tenants can also be handled efficiently by automated systems, meaning that the employees are not overwhelmed by a high number of enquiries. Engaged, productive, and digitally enabled employees are key to  delivery of a quality service and therefore enhancing employee engagement is essential. 

 

3. Increasinformation security 

Social housing organisations capture and store a lot of personal information, so any loss of data is more than just bad news – it can have serious reputational consequences. Prioritising protection for your organisation from today’s vulnerabilities and against tomorrow’s cyber-threats is vital. Consequently, network security, intrusion protection, and virus threat management are important considerations for all organisations.  

There is a balance to be struck between locking-down sensitive data and making information available to provide quality tenant services. Technology has a critical role to play in permitting legitimate use, whilst preventing malicious access. Innovative digital technology should be a top priority for social housing providers who want to strike the balance between data availability and security.  

 

4. Drivoperational productivity 

Rent regulation has reduced operational income in real terms, consequently, providers are under increasing financial pressure. So, organisations need to maximise efficiency in order to provide a quality service whilst optimising costs. Ensuring the optimal blend of innovative and cost-effective technology can help drive operational efficiency.  

Technological innovation can add value to all aspects of service provision, from keeping operational costs low by automating interactions, to providing omni-channel customer service, and consolidating communication infrastructure. Technology solutions can help providers continue to provide excellent tenant services whilst delivering maximum operational productivity and optimising costs. 

Learn more about how digital innovation and technology can help add value to your social housing organisation here.  

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