Monday, 1 February 2016

Online Repairs Can Only Get Better

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Effective housing customer self-service is a key driver and certainly one that will not be going away in the current climate. It's difficult to perhaps visualise how to tackle it, where we and our software suppliers, come from the desktop transactional world. In particular, I am sure you agree, web portals designed by techies, rarely make effective ones. The measure of that is driving footfall flow from the service centre, to the web.

In my work with Torus Group in the North West of England, I have come across work completed on social housing self-service from Hallnet. The solutions I have seen in use are lean and cut out complexity, in order to make life easier for tenants and other customers. Having seen reliable stats for numbers of transactions shifted and enhanced satisfaction of tenants, as you can imagine I was very interested to chat with Stephen Hall, to see what else they have in the pipeline.

A few weeks ago, over a coffee and a false alarm fire evacuation, it was great to get into their mode of thinking of how they work. The key I think is that they take a digital-first approach, to pretty much everything they do. Even if it's something for the desktop.  

The latest area they are looking at is self service repairs, pretty much one of housing's top low hanging fruit areas. In typical Hallnet fashion, the new product, named ActiveHousing, being developed, looks at self service repairs from a very customer centric viewpoint. This is a departure from many approaches I generally encounter.

Key concepts I liked in the solution included serious attention to 'nudging'. Changing tenant behaviour and keeping them to the published limitations of their tenancy agreements. So, tenant damage can be rejected or a re-charge procedure managed. The more adventurous DLO teams out there could even bill tenants up-front for recharges. Where tenants were nudged away, they could receive some advice instead. Neat!

Tablet centric design allows capture of images of tenant issues, which could include QR codes or other info on particular components, such as heating or electrical systems. A great way for customers to describe issues, while we are waiting for IOT to arrive. Early on, contact and other details can be confirmed, such as mobile number/email address. Handy in the repairs transaction, for keeping the tenant informed, but increasing accuracy of general contact details too, for whatever purposes we may need it. Chasing that arrear perhaps?

Diagnosis of issues was really smooth and took into account 'tenant' rather than 'technical services' SOR speak. Sensible synonyms are supported so 'Wasps' can be easily recorded as 'Insect infestation'. Once painlessly diagnosed, the holy grail, you see what appointments that are available. Naturally these are sourced from a back office scheduler, so Optitime DRS (already in place), or another, such as 360 can be easily configured in. Once complete and ordered from a basket (yep, just like the real world web 2.0 of Amazon, Tesco etc), confirmation email or SMS reminds the customer when the repair appointment is booked for, adding convenience for them and reducing waste calls for the RSL's service centre. 

Proof of the pudding however,is how has this changed customer behaviour? Helena partnerships have had a 275% increase in repairs being reported via the web. From stats on the solution, the average repair takes only 99 seconds to report, actually faster, to some degree than on the phone. Few channel shift initiatives I have seen, manage anything near that. 

As you can tell, I really liked the fresh approach of Hallnet's ActiveHousing concepts, for SelfService, and they were a nice bunch too! Like me, they will be on stand 12 at NHFIT2016 Chelsea. It's worth checking Hallnet out there. Let me know what you make of ActiveHousing, or add your comments here on the blog.

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Related Post: More insight into a better experience of ChannelShift for your customers 


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D:ream - Things Can Only Get BetterD:ream - Things Can Only Get Better.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting 07854-655009

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Tony.

    We've got our online transactions to be 1 in 3 of all customers. We're just about to go live with fully integrated repairs self service element to the app so this figure should increase even further to our target of 90% by 2018.