With the recent spike in the cost of living and consistent increase of bad feedback for Housing Associations (HAs), how can HAs transform their business to truly improve the tenant experience forever?
The current state of the tenant experience
Over 4.4 million homes across England are provided through a Housing Association, supplying affordable homes and services to millions of individuals1. Yet, negative feedback reported through websites such as Trustpilot point to a need to act now to deliver a more positive tenant experience with outcome-based solutions. Whilst anticipating a further increase in the cost of living and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, Government Social Housing suggests an additional 4,000 homes are required to cope with current demand, and this number is expected to keep growing.
When reviewing the feedback from tenants on Trustpilot2, the most common (and consistent) issues lie within ‘communication’, ‘urgent maintenance needs’ and ‘lack of flexibility’ or ‘not showing up for scheduled appointments.’ Some examples below:
Reviewing the rare 5-star ratings of a sample of HAs around England, it was clear to see the importance of good communication and the ability to fulfil tenant requirements quickly and efficiently. These positive efficiencies don’t only apply to happy tenants, but also create a better employee experience.
As we anticipate an increase in affordable housing, we begin to understand that the bad and negative feedback is a UK-wide issue and not limited to a few select ‘bad apple’ associations. So what does this mean for the Sector? How can we create a better tenant experience, where tenants and Housing Associations can collaborate to solve these issues together? How will we manage and fund this growth when changes are already needed? Greater accountability is required and providing 24/7 support and communication to tenants is key.
Digital solutions to drive positive tenant experiences
We believe the answer lies in modern technologies such as Conversational AI that are able to help promote brand-driven, contextual and meaningful omni-channel conversations. Applying intelligent automation and conversational design to create unified tenant experiences means HA services can be accessed any time of the day (or night) without the need to increase staff numbers.
There are many issues that could be solved through the use of Conversational AI as an enabler for 24/7 digital communication with tenants. When you think about the number of daily interactions that take place across the operational value chain, the ability to engage digitally and automate the outcome could have material impact on satisfaction and also material cost benefits for the HA.
Virtual agents of change
For example, in our research we found one Housing Association’s approach to Noise Control was to ask their tenants to report complaints via the contact centre. The contact centre would then issue a form for the tenant to fill in and post back to them for review. This whole process took weeks to sort out, which is not only slow and frustrating for the tenant, but also incurs a workflow cost to the HA for running this heavily manual process.
An Association with a digital-first mindset would make this service request available via Conversational AI. Their tenants could provide all of the relevant information directly to the virtual agent at any time of day, without the need to fill in another form.
With automated integration, their virtual agent could:
Ensure internal records are updated
Log a request for someone in the building management team to investigate the problem
Provide the tenant with expected response times
Send regular updates on progress and next steps
The future is digital
There are many use cases for HAs. We suggest they take a holistic approach to their omnichannel support and use Conversational AI to enhance and automate interactions and outcomes across all channels. This means they would be easier to engage with, providing greater accessibility and vastly improving their tenant experience.
I think it’s time to consider Conversational AI and encourage HAs to transform their businesses to truly improve the tenant experience forever. If you would like to continue the conversation and have any questions around Conversational AI and its potential benefits, please get in touch via email or let’s connect on LinkedIn.