Improving Tenant Experience with Unified Communication

By Paul Swannell, Sales Director at Localz

Customer expectations are changing. Tech giants and innovators such as Amazon, Deliveroo and Uber have drastically changed the service model as we once knew it. These innovators have put customers in control and centered their entire business model around convenience and transparency for customers.

This has driven consumer demand for the same experience with every sector and brand that they engage with. On top of this, the pandemic has also accelerated changes so that digitalisation is no longer optional, in fact it became crucial to operations. It’s no surprise that housing associations now cite tenant experience as a top priority. The sector is taking big strides to improve satisfaction, increase access to information, and listen to residents’ feedback.

In the commercial world customer service has a tangible value – it drives loyalty, repeat-purchase, upsell, referrals, renewals, and competitive advantage. In comparison, the world of housing is very different. Almost all RSLs have waiting lists of potential tenants desperate to move in, and they could let their properties several times over. However, they are not in the business of making a profit for shareholders. Nonetheless, focussing on customer experience comes with significant operational benefits. Take repair and maintenance appointments as an example. By simply communicating with tenants on the day of service, organisations stand to increase first-time access and reduce inbound calls. With an industry average of 15% no-access failed appointments and each failed appointment costing £60-£75, it is business critical for landlords and contractors to reduce the time wasted and costs incurred associated with these failed appointments.


Unlocking Tenant Satisfaction with Communication

It is vital to look at leaders in other industries who are providing the services that consumers are getting accustomed to. This is where other providers are going to be benchmarked and also there is a lot to learn from their successes. Here is a guide on how to deliver great experiences to your tenants with a unified communication process:

When making appointments, landlords need to provide sufficient notice to the resident and try to accommodate their preferred timing;

Confirm appointments and send reminders by text message or other agreed method of contact. Be sure to update the resident if you need to reschedule;

Monitor progress and have accessible records of appointments, inspection reports, work orders and completion dates for your own repairs service and contractors;

Periodically review complaints made and their outcome with service area staff and contractors;

Provide feedback gathered from complaints to staff, other service areas, managers and boards/committees to help improve service.

Localz has been working with a variety of organisations within the housing sector to implement unified communications. This includes United Living and Vale of Aylesbury Housing who have both seen drastic improvements to tenant satisfaction as well as increased efficiencies within their businesses.


United Living Takes a Customer-Centric Approach

As part of their Business Improvement strategy for improving customer engagement, United Living Property Services went out to market looking for a suitable provider to help it improve on 3 key areas of operational activity for Responsive Repairs:

To reduce the number of no access appointments;

To reduce inbound query calls and;

To improve overall customer satisfaction.

Statistics showed that a no access appointment cost £50 per failure and upon further investigation, ULPS found that a significant number of the calls they were receiving were asking about upcoming appointments or the likely time of arrival of an operative. It was therefore clear, to be able to improve both of these inefficiencies, ULPS would need a solution that could provide appointment time updates akin to those often sent by couriers.

ULPS deployed Localz to support with customer notifications and tracking. ULPS estimates that the real-time appointment updates have reduced its no access failures by 45%.

“The difference we have seen has been significant and the results have been really beneficial to our business. We have improved productivity, both on the road and in the call centre, and reduced associated re-work time such as additional travel and time spent contacting customers to rebook appointments,” said, Jonathan Evans, Business Improvement Manager at ULPS.


Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust (VAHT) Increases First Time Acces Rates

Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust provides nearly 8,500 affordable homes across Buckinghamshire and the surrounding areas. Striving to provide excellent customer service, the Trust has invested in new technologies and systems to make it easier to get in touch or report repairs. This included partnering with Localz to support its customer communication, tracking and feedback processes.

Since its implementation, VAHT has seen a 37% reduction in no-access rates and has received an average of 4.5+ star customer feedback rating.

By providing service transparency and real-time tracking, tenants not only feel in control but are also less likely to miss an appointment. By improving first-time access rates RSLs will be able to serve more customers and divert spending into other areas. Not only will it relieve some of the financial and operational pressures RSLs are under, but it promises to improve image and reputation in a time of extreme scrutiny.  By giving tenants convenience, transparency and two-way communications they will feel cared and listened too – just like any successful relationship, communication is the key.

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