If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that change is inevitable. In some instances, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated change, and shone a light on the challenges facing a plethora of sectors, which now lie under funded, under resourced, but more critical than ever.
The fall-out from the pandemic is wide-ranging and complex for the UK social housing landscape. On the one hand, it’s placed significant constraints on finances and service delivery, but on the other it has impacted countless families and communities reliant on the way in which the market operates. The balance of collecting more revenue with fewer resources, from people with less money, has been a difficult one to strike. Unsurprisingly, it has led many in the industry to question current practices and fast-track plans to bring greater efficiencies into the sector.
‘The case for change’
Social housing is not alone in grappling with the issue of digital transformation. It’s not a product of the pandemic by any means, but it’s certainly grown in prominence in the last 24 months. The case for change has been strong for many years, but faced with unprecedented challenges, the need to transform has now become critical.
Digital transformation will play a key role in creating a social housing sector built for the future. One where increased and improved use of technology can help evolve services and meet the needs of communities more effectively. Technology and data will allow greater transparency, flexibility and accountability in a world where tenants expect access to services 24/7.
In 2022, terms such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Data Science (DS) and Behavioural Insight (BI), will become more prevalent in the sector. They hold the key to allowing social landlords to make more personalised, automated interventions that improve the efficiency and effectiveness of income recovery. With inflation driving up operational costs and the cost of living at the fastest rate seen in decades, there really is no time like the present for social landlords to begin engaging more meaningfully with tenants to provide value-for-money services while creating successful outcomes for everyone.
Addressing the challenges
For the first time, social housing leaders can realise the true value of the data they possess, big or small, with the launch of a unique tenant engagement solution, which represents a major step change in the intelligent automation of rent arrears management.
Voicescape’s Caseload Manager (CM) helps social landlords to manage rent arrears more effectively, at a lower cost, and with an improved tenant experience, moving beyond historical, costly and inefficient manual casework to identify the most relevant action to take for individual tenants.
It combines AI, ML, DS and BI, to identify individual tenant behaviours and risks, applying learning algorithms to accurately predict future customer behaviours, continuously improving operations over time. Uniquely, it moves beyond standard income analytics utilities to actually automate the optimal next stage of the arrears management process.
By intelligently profiling risks before taking active intervention, Caseload Manager:
Shows the best way to intervene with each customer based on predictions of customer behaviour, leveraging automation, contact centre and officer resources
Maximises the likelihood of customer engagement
Gives income managers ‘at a glance’ insight into what’s happening in the business, where and why, all within a single platform without the need to ‘swivel chair’ between systems.
Crucially, it doesn’t sit in isolation from the rest of the arrears ecosystem. CM brings together critical and salient information in one place. Through intelligent risk profiling and active intervention, Caseload Manager reduces the generation of new caseload and resulting volume of active cases, saving hours of manual work.
Never before have customer engagement and operational efficiency been more important in helping social landlords to tackle growing income deficits. The sector is facing challenges that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, stretching finances and resources further than ever, and placing demands on organisations to support tenants with the rising cost of living. Yet, with the right technological backing, there is still a huge opportunity to shape services for the future, achieving value for money and long-term sustainability. The time for change is now.
Daniel Harrison is co-founder and head of technology at Voicescape.