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What Social Housing Can Learn From Digital Transformation Best Practices in the Commercial Property Sector

By Guest Author December 13, 2022

How Can the Importance of the Tenant Experience Translate to the Social Housing Sector?

There’s never been a time when our homes have mattered more to us. As we navigate this current economic downturn, balanced with the aftermath of COVID-19 and the cost-of-living crisis, the duty of care that falls on the shoulders of Housing Associations, plus the shift in the expectations that their tenants have of them, has never been greater.

In the midst of the digital revolution, Housing Associations are looking to those in the Commercial sector who have paved the way for the market to become more customer-centric, more data-driven, and more innovative in the ways they make technology work for them

With years of experience working with leaders across the property sector, from estate agents and commercial agents to house builders and property managers, at Globant we understand how businesses can leverage technology to create processes and digital experiences for both their tenants and employees to drive growth and success.

Now is the time for the Social Housing sector to discover what they can learn from and incorporate into their own digital roadmaps to build stronger relationships and experiences for their tenants.

But what is it that they should be focusing on?

From Asset-Centric…to Customer-Centric!

In the Social Housing sector, the emotional experience tied to the customer journey surpasses a simple transactional experience of renting just bricks and mortar. That being said, for many Housing Associations, legacy process, technology, and data has historically been centred around the physical asset itself, rather than the tenants living in them.

This lack of customer-centricity across the very business functions and teams who are responsible for delivering care and support for tenants can not only lead to a disjointed and siloed customer experience but also inefficiencies in the way issues or tasks are managed across teams. Let’s take a look at a couple of common examples…

The Contact Center Agent 

A tenant calling up to confirm when their repair engineer will be with them – If the contact centre does not have access to a single centralised and connected platform, it can be almost impossible for them to confirm this on the spot. A delayed response and lengthy process across various teams can be labour intensive and lead to a frustrated tenant. A connected platform would allow all of this information to be surfaced to the contact centre team resulting in first-call resolutions and a better customer experience.

The Support Services team 

Onsite support teams engaging with tenants – Many of the support workers on the ground rarely have access to centralised information across the different business functions. In giving this cross-functional data visibility, support requirements like home improvements can be carried out quickly, and the history of such resolutions recorded for other teams to be aware of.

The Contractor

Managing maintenance and compliance tasks on the go – Contractors are generally out and about moving from one location to the other whilst managing tenant issues and repairs. Having access to the relevant information before a visit can reduce the number of visits required to complete a task (i.e. correct parts) and provide an overall better experience and quicker results for the tenant. 

So, what can we learn from the Commercial sector? Invest in centralising your data by creating a single view of the tenant. Having that single source of truth allows you to build a full picture of your customer, you get to know tenants as people rather than simply the property they live in. This data and insights unlocks huge potential for all aspects of the business.  

By prioritising the tenant, you can deliver more personalised communications, become more responsive within service and support teams and foster a proactive rather than reactive culture tailored to the requirements of the tenant.  

Make Technology Work For You

Efficiency is always an underlying motive for digital transformation, but for non-profits the stakes are even higher. Effective management and optimization of resources and time can have a huge impact on the breadth of care that can be provided to tenants.

For the Social Housing sector, manual processes, duplication of data, paper-based forms, and over-reliance on phone calls and emails are all too familiar challenges for many of their business functions. This can not only create less-than-ideal experiences for tenants but for employees too, who could be spending more time on higher value tasks and building relationships with tenants, and less on data entry!

So, what can we learn from the Commercial sector? Invest in re-inventing your processes with the tenant & employee experience at the heart of them. Start by addressing some of the big questions:

  • What can you automate what is currently manual?
  • How can we serve tenants on channels that best suit them?
  • What can we make self-serve that currently requires a phone call to the contact centre to organise?
  • How can we provide better communication to tenants?
  • How can we embed sustainability in the business? 

These are just some ways we have helped Housing Associations replace labour and time-intensive processes and ultimately enable teams to better manage the growing demand for Social Housing in a cost-effective way.

From Reactive to Proactive…Using Data-Driven Insights

In this new digital-first world, data is everywhere, and the volume and speed at which organisations are collecting it, is vast. 

We all recognise the power that data can unlock. The reality is that harnessing this data and using it in a meaningful way can be incredibly challenging for organisations with complex networks of people, processes, and systems.

The challenge often lies in connecting it, identifying what data we need to collect, and making that data actionable. 

So, what can we learn from the Commercial sector? Leverage technology to integrate your systems, visualise your business metrics & action exceptions!

  • Integrate your Data: In the commercial sector, integration is the key to not only creating your single source of truth, but delivering digital experiences (e.g. mobile apps), and building out a tenant 360 view across all areas of the Housing Association.
  • Define your Business Metrics: Understand the metrics and insights you want to measure your business against – what does success look like? For example tracking SLAs, number of calls to resolution, time to respond etc. 
  • Visualise the Data: Visual, business-friendly dashboards help teams quickly identify where to focus their time. Embed these into team meetings to drive new behaviours and data-driven thinking.
  • Make it Actionable: Create simple processes that drive action and remediate system-driven exceptions.

In Summary…

Those in the commercial space are redefining what a “Home” means to their customers – not just the bricks and mortar that contains our families and possessions, but the type of lifestyle it gives us and the community it allows us to be part of. 

How are they doing this? Well, they’re investing in technology and business change programs that allow them to:

  • Re-invent processes that put the customer’s experience and their interests at the heart of each process.
  • Connect the multiple human and digital touch-points each team has with a tenant to create a true single view of their customer.
  • Use system-driven AI to become more proactive in the way their customers are serviced.
  • Become multi-channel and embrace the next generation of digital tenants through channels such as WhatsApp and Web Chat.
  • Automate and optimise manual tasks so their teams can spend more time doing what they do best – speaking and supporting tenants.

Now it’s time to ask, are you ready to digitally transform? As a partner, our expert team are on hand to support the journey and maximise the value of implementation for a wide variety of non-profit and public sector organisations.

About the Author

Kayleigh Forde
Customer Solutions Director at Globant

Kayleigh Forde is a Customer Solutions Director for the Globant UK Salesforce Studio. Leading our Social Housing and Not-for-Profit Industries, Kayleigh has been able to take her experience working in the Business Services & Property Industries for a number of years to support customers in embarking on their digital transformation journey with Salesforce.