Housing provider empowers staff with unified communications

Laptop with a cup of coffee on the table

Housing Solutions is a community-focused association in the south of England that offers affordable homes to rent, shared ownership schemes, and accommodation for key workers and older people. With two servers in use, one in a data centre and the other on-premises, they had a desire to move to the cloud, unify the organisation’s communications, and enable seamless integration between Microsoft Outlook and Teams.

The Challenges: Fragmented communications

Housing Solutions had invested significantly in the Microsoft stack and relied heavily on Microsoft Teams. However, its legacy, on-premises telephony system lacked integration — and the impact was being felt within the contact centre, across the organisation, and by customers.

Normally, the contact centre team aimed to resolve 80% of the 5,000 calls they received each month without needing to contact colleagues. But an increasing amount of enquiries were arriving via email in Outlook and other channels, so agents were having to switch systems constantly to stay on top of communications.

Agents also needed a way to transfer calls easily to colleagues with an ‘available’ status within Teams — so more enquiries could be resolved right away, rather than customers just being promised a callback.

“We wanted to switch to the cloud and unify our communications, integrating with our Microsoft stack,” says Richard Harvey, Head of Digital and Information Services at Housing Solutions. “And with one of our servers about to go end-of-life, we had to act swiftly.”

The Solution: Rapid roll-out goes smoothly

Housing Solutions selected Social Telecoms’ and 8×8’s Experience Communications as a Service (XCaaS) platform, which encompassed 8×8 Voice for Microsoft Teams, 8×8 Work, and 8×8 Contact Centre. In making its choice, the association took a compliant path to procurement by using PfH’s telecommunications framework agreement; on which, Social Telecoms are the no.1 ranked supplier.

The XCaaS platform unifies the contact centre, voice, video, and chat — and works seamlessly with Microsoft 365, Outlook, and Teams, empowering employees to resolve more enquiries ‘in-the-moment’.

“Integration with Microsoft was key,” says Richard Harvey. “But we could also see that 8×8 is a company that launches new features ahead of others, which was hugely attractive to us, going forward.”

Change needed to happen quickly — because the association’s on-premises telephony server would be going offline in just four months.

“Implementation all went smoothly and was completed in time,” says Harvey. “And the modern, familiar look of 8×8 instantly made our Microsoft users feel more comfortable with their new tools.”

The Benefit: Greater agility all round

Today, Housing Solutions has a unified, agile platform that empowers staff to collaborate better and solve more customer enquiries faster — whether working from home or in the office. Integration with Teams mean that everyone can see who’s available to take a customer call.

With 8×8, managers have actionable analytics that help them to meet peak call times more easily and follow an audit trail of communications.

The organisation can also retune its services, guides, and public messaging, based on keywords that are trending in call recordings. It’s easy for contact centre supervisors to change guides without needing help from IT.

There’s more innovation ahead too. “We’re now thinking about using video diagnosis with repairs, rolling out automated satisfaction surveys, and sometimes having residents’ meetings via live video calls,” says Richard. “With Social Telecoms and 8×8, we have strategic IT partners that supports our goals to open up new possibilities.”

About Social Telecoms.

Established as a Community Interest Company in 2012, Social Telecoms are celebrating ten years supplying their services to the UK social housing sector.  New for 2022, they are the no.1 ranked supplier on many of the lots on the PfH Telecommunications, Digital Inclusion & IoT framework agreement; including Lot 2: Unified Communications and Voice Solutions.

By being no.1 ranked, PfH members can issue a direct award to Social Telecoms for services that include 8×8.

Reach out to Social Telecoms by calling 01743 730100 or emailing corporatesolutions@socialtelecoms.org.uk.

Related Posts