Saturday, 12 July 2014

Communication Breakdown

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

Twitter is a wonderful thing. Even more so I think, when you meet some of your mutual followers in real life. I had the great pleasure of meeting one of my followers this week for a spot of lunch and a chance to put the social housing world to rights. Rest assured, next month, we will be tackling the Middle East.

Yvonne is a retired, but very active as a social housing tenant, in her community and with her housing provider. She has completed many TPAS courses and takes pride in spreading the positive message of involvement with her landlord. IMHO we need plenty more Yvonne's in our homes and many more of her age digitally connected/happy to educate others. A keen eBay'er, I put her on to and Quidco to further enhance her on-line shopping savings.

More and more retired and older residents are now being introduced to the web and how it can improve their lives. I feel that even compared with two years ago, we are in a very different place. Even Barclays are getting in on the action. They know the cash and service improvement value of customers using the internet, rather than physical branches to bank. See where the pleasures of Google maps, Skype and of course Barclays fine on-line banking are revealed. If as an RSL you have not got an interactive internet portal, for customers to log/check repairs, see rent statements/make payments or log ASB etc, you are already failing badly.

I was interested to hear from Yvonne, what she felt was the biggest area she felt would improve her relationship with her landlord. The answer was better communication. "They never come back to me", just about sums it up. Communication is the key. Quite often, tenants ask questions on the telephone, by email or other channels and those requests can just be lost. Not intentionally in many cases, but frustrating nonetheless.

So how can IT and software applications tackle this? Well, most integrated Housing Management Systems incorporate CRM, Front Desk Query, Tasking, Workflow Trays etc, so we have the means of recording all these interactions. So we have the means. If you don't have the means, find out what you could introduce to supply this element. The next step is to have everyone buy in to use it. Now that should not be tricky, but you would be surprised how often people connive to resist introduction of CRM & tasking.

Now for me, I like the idea of a task tray. All the things I need to do, and when they are due. To meet the communication needs of residents like Yvonne, CRM needs to be used in both directions. That is where many organisations go wrong. Log interactions from your customer services centre and also when your staff interact, out of the office. In fact ALL interactions need to be logged (or accessible) within CRM. Tasking should support escalation, referral and effectively provide a 'snail-trail' of how that piece of communication was dealt with, at each step of the way. All staff need to be engaged, any gaps will create vulnerabilities and inevitably complaints. Those complaints cost money.

So have you got the software applications in your housing organisation to prevent 'Communication Breakdown' and are you really using it properly?

You can link with me on LinkedIn here - It would be great to connect !

Read on to, 0845 on its last call for our customer service centres:

Led Zeppelin - Communication Breakdown.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting 07854-655009

PS As usual, if there are subjects you might like me to tackle on this blog, please get in touch and let me know!

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