Sunday, 28 October 2018

Come Back Brighter

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

Do you provide self-service to your residents?

If so, which internal team are responsible for it?

Just let those two questions linger for a while.

Anyone who knows me, will be aware I do a lot of Twitter. I learn a lot there, I really do. It is quite true, as my old man used to say, “Things you see, when you haven’t got a gun”. I love observing the experiences of tenants and particularly the service they receive. There were plenty of alternative views on #HousingDay18, many of which maybe warrant a blog or too.

There are a lot of reasons that residents can benefit by doing their business with their landlord online, not least it should be quicker and can be done without restrictions of office opening times etc. Good use of the internet clearly can make shopping and other things more convenient too, reducing what we pay if we are keener finding canny bargains.

I am not a believer that ‘if you build it, they will come’, far from it. Self-serving for housing often needs some careful thought, communications, nudge or maybe even incentives (how about £10 off your rent every month?). So if you have a resident enjoying self-serving, make them a keeper.

On twitter recently, I spotted one tenant of a medium sized social housing organisation, near to me in the North West of England, who looked to have been locked out of self-service. Password no longer worked and sounding quite digitally savvy, had even emailed then tweeted to ask for help.

Apparently the reply they received was that they were going to get the IT Crowd to look at it. Now I know that in some organisations, if it’s got a 13amp plug on it, that will be the remit of the ICT bods.

Now last time I checked, most self service is sans-plug. 

In fact it’s the new frontline for the service, for a growing audience. Can you imagine Amazon, Sainsburys, EasyJet or John Lewis thinking like that?
Then why in #Socialhousing do we think that would be remotely acceptable?
Those organisations see self-serve as a massive chunk of customer service delivery, if not customer service themselves.

What I think we miss still in many corners of the sector, is that customer service is less of a team, than an overall attitude.

It should be foremost in the minds of all staff, including ICT and perhaps the nice comms person Alison, who replied to the tweet. While problems do occur, self-service needs to be friction free, easy to use and work around when problems occur.

I am aware of what self-service product is in use here. Firstly, if I were in their shoes or that of any landlord witnessing this kind of difficulty, I would be working with the solutions supplier to be fine-tuning this to continually improve it. Test it to distraction too, to ensure all eventualities are catered for, resets etc can be done quickly at at any hour of the day without manual intervention.

Secondly, I would have back office staff aware of how to smoothly help to have that resident up and running again ASAP, maybe in preference to others, first thing the following working day.

I was asked when presenting at a recent conference on Digital Self Service, from people I have worked with, who seems to do it well? My answer was what I had seen from another large North West based landlord, (that began with a T). While queuing at their front desk I witnessed one tenant teach another, to self-serve, while queuing ahead of me, to log a repair.

When it works so well your staff no longer need to promote it and your tenants are doing it for you, I think you may have the problem licked😉

Related Post: Testing, an absolutely essential activity 


I would be pleased to connect with you on LinkedIn - Message me with any issues or queries, you would like to be explored in this blog. We generally receive a couple of suggestions each month.

Reef – Come Back BrighterReef – Come Back Brighter.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting 07854-655009

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