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Riverside Housing is boosting engagement and transforming property management with Salesforce Service Cloud & Experience Cloud for Nonprofits.
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Riverside delivers a richer Customer Experience with Salesforce

Our homes have become more important to us than ever before. As one of the UK’s largest providers of social housing, Riverside wants to make sure as many people as possible have somewhere to call home.

From renting and building properties to providing retirement accommodation and tackling homelessness, Riverside is on a mission to transform lives and revitalise neighbourhoods. More than half of the 55,000 properties it owns and manages are located in the most deprived areas of the UK. “Our services help transform lives by providing well maintained, good quality affordable housing, care and support services and regeneration challenges,” said Graham Weaver, Riverside’s Head of Digital Products.

Riverside has come a long way since it was founded in Liverpool in the 1920s with just 15 houses. The housing association now partners with more than 160 local authorities and provides accommodation to around 100,000 people.

Delivering a consistent and positive customer experience on such a massive scale is a challenge. But Riverside is determined to offer its customers both choice and convenience.

riverside logo

“People are at the heart of everything we do. With Salesforce, we can support them on the channel of their choice and ensure no-one gets left behind,” shares Alison Stock, Riverside’s Director of IT and Digital.

Woman wearing headset, smiling while looking at computer

Riverside empowers customers with self-service

To provide greater choice, Riverside has introduced a range of new digital processes and engagement channels, including a customer portal, MyRiverside. Built on Experience Cloud, the portal enables customers to log and schedule repairs, check rent statements, and make rent payments.

“By empowering our customers through self-service, we can increase the quality and efficiency of our services,” commented Weaver. “A digital approach enables us to capture richer insights into the needs of our customers and the maintenance of our properties.”

MyRiverside was implemented in spring 2018 with support from PwC, Salesforce, and 3,000 customers who took part in beta testing. In addition to the Salesforce Premier Success Plan, Riverside worked with a Customer Success Architect, who helped to ensure Riverside utilised the best Salesforce features whilst also accelerating the delivery by helping implement best practice techniques and using clicks over code wherever possible.

More than 17,000 customers have signed up to the portal, which also provides real-time status updates on repairs and web chat options. Powered by Service Cloud Live Agent, web chats have become a popular engagement channel for customers with more than 2,000 sessions per month. To help provide a quick response, Riverside plans to use Einstein chatbots to welcome customers and field basic inquiries in the future. Around 2,500 repairs per month are registered via the portal, which has helped to free up Riverside’s advisors to spend more quality time with customers.

“People contact us for a range of reasons – from general enquiries, raising safeguarding concerns or reporting anti-social behaviour to just calling for a chat,” explained Weaver. “By offering multiple customer engagement channels, our advisors can focus on complex enquiries and supporting vulnerable people when they need it most.”

Riverside helps customers get online during COVID-19 pandemic

The support offered by Riverside was critical during the COVID-19 pandemic when many customers were impacted by local lockdowns and job losses. The housing association launched a special initiative called ‘Let’s Talk Rent’ to help those worried about paying their rent.

With Service Cloud, Riverside was able to create a simple online form and ‘web to case’ process to support the initiative within just two weeks. This enabled it to capture the information needed to follow up with customers requesting extra support.Riverside also distributed £50,000 worth of tablets to residents so they could access online services and stay in touch with loved ones.

“The pandemic accelerated the shift to digital for a lot of individuals and organisations,” said Weaver. “With Salesforce, we were able to empower our people to work from home quickly and adapt our processes to ensure we could continue to support our customers.”

Riverside staff member repairing a light switch.

360-degree view of customers boosts contact resolution rates

Establishing a 360-degree view of its customers was a key first step on Riverside’s digital roadmap. “We want to understand the customer journey, so we can keep providing a better experience,” explained Weaver. “With Salesforce, we now have a single source of the truth, which has helped to increase our first contact resolution rate.”

In the past, advisors had to consult multiple systems to source customer information and every interaction was treated as a new inquiry. With 60% of calls relating to existing queries, this resulted in a lot of duplicated effort.

With Service Cloud, advisors can see not only the history of every case but also tenancy agreements and repairs records. This information can also be accessed remotely by housing officers via a tablet or smartphone, which means they can have more informed conversations when visiting customers.

Riverside’s customer service team is available 24/7 every day of the year and handles around 600,000 contacts per annum. Omni-channel Routing features in Service Cloud mean enquiries can be shared with the most appropriate advisor and referred to additional support teams if needed.

To ensure a consistent response to common queries, Riverside uses Service Cloud Lightning Flows and knowledge articles to guide advisors through key steps. This helps to ensure enquiries and complaints are resolved effectively and regulatory and safeguarding issues are addressed appropriately.

Keeping safeguarding in the spotlight

Safeguarding adults and children at risk is a key responsibility for Riverside as a housing provider. It ensures that comprehensive care and protection plans are in place.

With Service Cloud, it will be able to capture safeguarding concerns more effectively. “A transparent and centralised approach to recording and reporting safeguarding concerns will support local and national management and monitoring, and help us keep our customers safe from harm,” said Weaver.

The new safeguarding capabilities were designed, tested, and deployed in just four months by a team of internal Salesforce specialists. “We have two squads dedicated to constantly enhancing the platform, with some basic changes implemented in just a couple of days,” commented Weaver. “Every time we add a new feature, we get great reviews from our colleagues.”

Riverside also draws on the expertise of a Salesforce customer success manager when implementing new features and takes part in Expert Coaching Sessions, which are part of its Premier Success Plan. “We want to make sure we are following best practice,” said Weaver. “With the Premier Success Plan, we can keep expanding our knowledge.”

Weaver also uses Trailhead to scope out new ideas. “I love the short sharp approach to learning,” he revealed. “Trailhead was a great resource when we introduced web chat and helped me understand what could be achieved with clicks not code.”

Riverside gives people a place to thrive

As Riverside’s digital transformation gains momentum, Weaver is already envisioning a future where empty properties can be advertised and occupied more rapidly and new customers signed up more easily.

“We are committed to leveraging the power of technology to put people first and create places where they can thrive,” said Weaver. “With Salesforce, we can transform more processes and lives, and make affordable housing accessible to more people.”