First Choice Homes Oldham has increased customer satisfaction to 89% on a rolling average a year after deploying an artificial intelligence-driven chatbot. First Choice deployed the solution as part of a service to support its contact centre team to handle requests from residents and answer queries quickly, in over 100 languages.
A year since the pilot, the chatbot is on average handling just under 1000 resident queries a month. Michael McGeoch, contact centre team manager at FCHO said “With a busy call centre handling 500 calls a day, we’re always looking for ways in which we can meet the needs of our customers in an efficient, accessible and convenient way. They’re calling us about issues relating to their home, so we know we need to provide the right information in a way and at a time and in a language that suits them. Deploying this chatbot has given us another way of reaching our customers, and it has meant we’re able to free up staff to focus on more complex issues without impacting the quality of service we deliver.”
FCHO operates 11,000 properties, with a commitment to build more each year. Like most social housing landlords the majority of their income needs to be spent on housing, with little left to invest in areas such as technology, so any solution needs to be affordable, easy to install, easy to use from both residents and staff perspectives. And according to FCHO, this is what they got from Futr, the conversation-as-a-service leading provider.
McGeoch said “The team at Futr have been one of the easiest groups of people I’ve ever worked with. As a company, it understands what we’re trying to achieve, and that everything we do has to have the residents’ needs as a priority.”
FCHO does use Futr’s live chat function too, and as McGeoch pointed out, this provides a safety net. “Our client base is incredibly varied, with a mix of different ages, cultures and nationalities. No solution is going to serve all of them, so the fact that we’re able to offer chatbot alongside live chat and voice means we’ve got a much better chance of delivering an inclusive and accessible resident service, and that’s reflected in our customer satisfaction scores.”
Kitty Hadaway, head of sales for housing at Futr said “The successful integration of a chatbot into FCHO’s communication channels highlights what a pivotal point we’re at in the use of technology to support the customer experience. We’re seeing a paradigm shift in how people respond to chatbots; whereas a few years ago they might have been wary of an AI, now more and more customers recognise that it’s a fast, efficient and effective way of finding out what you need, in a manner that suits you. No more waiting on hold during a lunch break, no more language barriers.”