Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Calling All Nations

If you do the Twitter thing, follow me at @hotpixUK

Earlier this week I was in an interesting meeting with a housing association in the South West of England. A quite exceptional lady in the meeting (you know who you are), had already asked me to answer a few questions about where I thought the marketplace is at the moment. In particular ‘What the future looks like for Housing IT – what are the great innovations?’

Well wow, what a question? Aside from the usual things (depending on where you are now, integrated housing systems, mobiles or tablets, scheduling, better reporting...), one area I highlighted was one I think will become more and more prominent.

That area if you asked me today is automated calling. This is a technology already fully utilised within the automotive industry. If you own or lease a BMW, Lexus or Merc, or similar quality car and use an authorised dealer, you may have already encountered some of this Voicescape technology before. As my associates, friends and family will know I am not a petrol-head, preferring comfort over speed. These systems are tuned to get a response quickly, helping to make retention of customers a reality. The silent auto-dialler experience coming out of call centres from Mumbai to Cleethorpes does not wear well with these petrol-heads. That proven experience also should work with hard headed customers and residents of Housing organisations too.

As this computer telephony technology is automatic it could be set to make any number of calls a day, fully recorded and audited for a whole week and beyond. This could be to chase your arrears, ask a question about the repair that has only been performed 30 minutes ago, or help with annual survey of family size, essential now the so called ‘bedroom’ tax is coming.

Increasingly too, particularly in bigger UK cities, ‘ambulance chasers’ finding the squeeze on PPI and accident claims are now targeting social housing tenants to open ‘disrepair’ cases. “Has your landlord failed to us now, no claim no fee.....” yadda yadda yadda.. This technology could issue an automated call every three months, just to ask “Have you any repair issues to log, press one for no or if satisfied with condition of your home, two for yes”. Proof of response or even attempting to survey has been shown to assist in court.

The changes to HB payment, are probably the ones on your mind though. To chase arrears a simple call could be set up: “This is a call from the Ideal HA, your landlord. We would like to discuss your increasing arrears debt. Press one to speak to us to assist (creating a priority inbound call), or two to make a debit or credit card payment now....”
Where language preferences are held for the resident, this could easily be carried out in Urdu, Bengali, Spanish, Mandarin etc. Of course, the better your contact profile data, the more effective this could be. Stats are all easily available from the process, to see the effect on arrears collection improvements etc over time.

I, like many other well informed housing professionals consider the current policies, as squeezing RSL’s and Housing Providers too much. The emergence of universal credit in the hands of residents, not split into HB paid direct to housing providers causes problems in my opinion for RSL’s and Residents. I grew up in social housing. If I were there now on the breadline, like many of your residents, I know that if I had money in my hand, maybe I would pay my menacing loan shark (or PoundsToPocket etc) first, before my caring HA. Still, we need to work within this idealology, I take my pointers from David Orr on that one, when you cannot fight it, work with it.

So the logical outcome is that HA’s will spend more money either with housing officer visits and/or CRM outgoing calls, unless IT technology can further assist. Traditionally, the HMS would be generating plenty of arrears letters. I don’t know about you, but I don’t tend to open my letters very fast, unless they are in a red envelope. I always tend to answer the home phone though, or mobile or read texts sent to me.

It’s no surprise that in court, letters are assuming a lesser significance. To be able to document that numerous calls or texts a day for many weeks were sent to a resident, (together with traditional activities) and what responses came back, can be a more compelling argument. Even more compelling are the possible costs. At only £3 a tenant per year from someone like The Housing Contact Company, Call-2-Collect represents pretty good value, when the cost of a letter is about £12+ or a single call centre conversation about £4+ every time.

That’s why I think that this is one of housings current and future innovations, an untapped technology. Look out; it’s probably coming down your road, sometime soon. While it’s not ‘The’ Silver Bullet, it’s certainly one I would like in my Universal Credit & Housing reform Bill holster.

More on the Housing Contact Company at

Maybe this is what INXS meant back in the 80s.

File Under: 360,1stTouch,4Js,Aareon,Academy,ActiveH,Automated dialling, calling, Alignment,ALMO,Anite,Apex,ArchHouse,Archouse,asbestos,Asprey e-state pro,Asset Management,Aurora,Average IT Costs,BO,BPR,Browser Applications,Business Objects,Business Process Review,Business social networking,Castle,CBL,Cedar Open Accounts,Change,Cheaper Housing IT,Chics,CHR,Citrix,Civica,Clearview,CMS Template,COA,Coactiva,Codeman,Comino,Competitive Dialogue process,complex IT procurements,Component Accounting,Consilium,Consolidation,Consultancy,Consultant,Contact Manager,Context,Contractor Systems,CORE,CorVu,Cost Reductions,Covalent,CRM,Crystal Reports, call-2-collect, call , collect, CTI,CTX,Customer Relationship Management,Deeplake,Development Systems,Document Management,Documotive,ECMK,EDRMS,England, English,EnterpriseBI,ERP Systems,Finance,Financial Systems,Getting best from,Grasp,Grip,hardware,HG,Housemark survey, The Housing Contact Company, Housing Blueprint,Housing Group,Impact Response,implementations,In House,In4,Infoflow,Information Technology,Informix,inHouse,in-house workforce,Innovation,Inside Housing,Internet Portal,Invu,Ireland,Irish,IT Budget,IT Training,iWorld,Keylogic,Keystone,Kirona,Kypera,management reporting,Measuring Change,Mebus,Miracle,mobile functionality,Montal,MS Dynamics,MS Dynamics CRM2011,Neighbourhoods and Communities,Northgate,Notice,NROSH,OA,OGC Buying Solutions,Ohms,OJEU Limits,OmFax,Omniledger,Open source software,open tender,OpenHousing,Opti-Time,Oracle,Orchard,Outsource and outsourcing,Paloma,performance management systems,PfH,Pick,PIMMS,pimms4communities,Planned maintenance,Plus,PM,Progress,Promaster,Proval,Pyramid,QL,QLX,Registered Providers,Registered Social Landlord,Rent Increase Freezes,Repairfinder,Reporting,Reports,ROCC,Rocket,RPs,RSL,Saffron,SAP,Scots, Scottish,Scotland,SDM,sector,Server Virtualisation,servicing,Servitor,Servitor,Sharepoint,Simdel,Simdell,Slash and Burn,Social Media,Software,SQL Open Housing,SQL Reporting Services,SQL reporting services,SQL Server,Star rating,Stores and Stock,Strategic Asset Management,Sunguard,Surveys,Sx3,System alignment,Task,Terminal Services,Three Star,Today,Total repairs,Tribal,Twitter,U2,UniClass Enterprise,Unidata,Universal Housing,Universe,Unrest,Van Stock,Voice and data, Voicescape, Wales,Welsh,Windows Server,Workflow and tasking,Xmbrace,XML, 07854-655009 , 07854655009 , 07854 655009 , "07854 655009" , tonysmith , thathousing , thathousingit , thathousingITguy, guy

No comments:

Post a Comment