Dave Perry 1 (4)

Recruiting customers

 

Dave Perry 1 (4)David Perry Yorkshire Housing’s board member shares progress on recruiting new Customer Service Committee members.

Well, here goes with my second blog, and we are recruiting new Customer Service Committee members!

So, how has it gone so far? We’ve had a fantastic response to our recruitment of two members for the Customer Service Committee. We were overwhelmed by over 170 expressions of interest from our postcards, emails, promotions and the hard work of our community investment team.

CSC Wanted Poster web editedLast week we held recruitment taster sessions for those who could attend at our Leeds HQ. We scheduled times over three afternoon/evening sessions, the last one beginning at 5:30p.m., to accommodate those at work.

Approximately 30 people made it. We put on ‘afternoon tea and cake’ to see if this could entice them over and help with filling in their applications. There’s still time until 17 May to apply from our website!

First, information was provided about the business, being part of the committee, and the support available. This gave an opportunity for potential candidates to ask questions and understand more about what’s involved. They asked some great questions too!  Here are some of the questions and brief answers:

What they already knew about their landlord?

Very little/none at all

How are we governed? How’s the committee managed?

Through Yorkshire Housing’s Governance team.

What’s our customer demographic? Different access to the internet/website?

Communicating with customers in many ways, so as not to miss anyone out.

What support is available to members?

Training, development, mentoring and shadowing staff members where relevant.

What’s the level of commitment to serve on the committee?

Six meetings per year, three days a month on average, to cover reading, training, shadowing – getting to know and understand the business.

After the break for tea & biscuits, we provided a case study paper around antisocial behaviour, to give a flavour of the role. At meetings, there will be background reports and recommendations to challenge. The example proved enlightening, and feedback demonstrated the candidates were well equipped to ask the right kind of questions.CSCrecruitamend

CSC recruitment day 2

 

The sessions ended with Lucy Cheetham our Customer Involvement Project Officer summarising what other volunteering roles are available, and how they could still make a contribution – some don’t involve travelling or too much commitment. To find out more about this, we’re running a survey to gather more information on what customers are interested in and how they wish to be involved.

These sessions left us very confident we can recruit some talented and experienced members for the committee. Thanks to all of those who have contacted us and been involved.

FYI and, as a final note for the time being, Lucy said:

“It was great to see so many of our customers attend the taster sessions. There was a wide array of different skills on show and some great discussions. With only two positions available, the selection process is going to be very difficult. I hope, with the enthusiasm shown, we can use those skills from the unsuccessful candidates to help us shape our services in other ways.”

Next time I’ll blog about the selection outcome and give some feedback from those successful in the process, but don’t forget we still need to fill many other volunteering roles.

A volunteer’s journey with Yorkshire Housing…

David Perry Yorkshire Housing’s board member explains why becoming a volunteer was the right move. This is an ideal opportunity for any customers interested in getting involved to help improve you and our services too.

Dave Perry 1 (4)

 

“My journey started just five short years ago, when I retired and became bored after a couple of months of doing very little (apart from going fishing!). I responded to a “one-liner” in the tenants’ Your Home magazine by Helen Cowton (community engagement advisor), asking for recruits to the Service Inspectors Team.

Following three years of work with that team (over two years as Chair), I then joined the Customer Service Committee, and am now serving as Chair and I’m also a Board Member. However, you don’t need to be retired as, with any volunteering, you just need to be able to commit some time. Also, it may not even be necessary to leave home to take part – some volunteers contribute on the internet.

“So what’s in it for me?” you may say. Well – how about: not only improving your knowledge about your landlord, but also helping to keep customer-facing services (and satisfaction about those services) at the highest level?

What did I know before I started? Answer: Nothing, and the important thing is – no-one needs to be familiar with the housing sector beforehand, because relevant training is provided. Not only does this help Yorkshire Housing, it can also help you to add to your own CV., e.g. conducting surveys, writing reports, etc. – very useful additions to a CV if you’re looking for work.

Where appropriate, it’s also possible to work-shadow various people, from housing officers, workmen, etc. In addition, for certain committee members, mentoring can be made available. I have worked through these processes and I am now preparing to become a mentor to others.

I’d like to take you further through my journey later but, at the moment, it’s your’s that counts. So, think about it, can you – will you – commit to helping Yorkshire Housing, your fellow tenants and, perhaps, yourself? No matter how small, your involvement matters.

So, in summary to help and volunteer:-

  • You don’t need previous experience of the housing sector
  • You don’t need to be retired!
  • You don’t need to leave home to contribute
  • Volunteers can be any age
  • Time commitment can be as much or as little as suits you, depending on your role
  • Enthusiasm and willingness to work with a team are a necessary asset!
  • Volunteers work towards the bigger picture of the business – any issues relating to their own tenancy must be dealt through the usual channels

Let’s all work together to keep services to Yorkshire Housing’s customers at the high level we deserve!

How you can get involved with Yorkshire Housing?

Yorkshire Housing are looking for up to two new customer members to sit on the Customer Service Committee. If this feels like you, please get in touch.

Once we hear from you, a member of the community investment team will be in touch to explain the next steps.

HousingDayChat18Nov

Join in #HousingDayChat 18 November 8-9pm

#HousingDayChat connecting tenants 18 November HousingDayChat18Nov

Last month we held an inaugural #HousingDayChat to help connect tenants for a Twitter conversation – it was a massive success.

Building on this the next event is going to be on #HousingDay itself on Wednesday 18 November 8-9pm.

Thanks to those of you who supported and took part. And especially tenants without which it would not be possible. This is definitely the kind of springboard needed for further networking and campaigning, following the work by Scrutiny Live.

@24Housing reporter Chris Smith provided a summary of the first chat. And TPAS provided a Storify of the event which revealed over 100 different people taking part and event reach of 48,872 people.  It was a new format and here’s what it was like from chat host Jon Land’s point of view:

“After the success of the first #HousingDayChat at the end of last month, I am delighted to be involved and what promises to be a bigger and even better social media event on #HousingDay itself.

It was great to see so many tenants get involved in the first chat but I think for many, including myself, it was a steep learning curve. Questions and answers came thick and fast; people broke off to start their own conversations and as a complete chat chair novice the whole experience was overwhelming at times.

Of course, there was also the minor inconvenience of my PC suffering from a seven-minute wifi failure – not that participants really noticed so wrapped up were they in their own discussions.

To me, that was what made the whole thing so special. Here were dozens of people, many of them virtual novices to Twitter and the whole social media chat concept, getting stuck in and giving it a go because of how passionate they feel about the value of social housing, what a difference it has made to their own lives, to their families and friends, and the communities in which they live.

This was people giving up their Thursday evening to talk about how proud they are to be tenants. There was no need for their social landlord to cajole them into action; they did it because they want to tell others about the positive impact a decent, secure home can make – regardless of the difficult personal circumstances some of them face.

This is what #HousingDay is all about – celebrating, educating and reminding the wider public why social housing really does matter.

I would urge everyone to get involved on18 November in whatever capacity they can – and join me for the second #HousingDayChat in the evening to celebrate some of the highlights of the day.”

If you are a tenant or organisation who would like to participate, please follow and express your interest via @HousingDay on Twitter. Also please let us know if you have any ideas and questions for the chat session via tweeting @HousingDay or replying to this post

John Popham digital storyteller has kindly volunteered to produce a Storify post event. Please see below for our quick tips for participants taking part in #HousingDayChat.

Here’s a reminder of the questions from last time – it will help prompt thinking for this times chat.

#HousingDayChat – Questions 29 October

Q1 – Are you a proud or happy social housing tenant? Tell us why?

Q2 – What’s the best thing your landlord has done this year? From @Andrew_W_Shaw

Q3 – As a social housing tenant, what are your biggest concerns?

Q4 – Do you feel tenants have a strong enough voice at a local/national level?

Q5 – Why should tenant engagement/scrutiny remain a priority for social landlords?

Q6 – What’s your motivation to be an involved tenant? How would you convince others? From @GREJanet

Q7 – How well does your landlord use social media? Does it make a tangible difference? From @johnpopham

Q8 – With dwindling numbers of social homes available, where are people in most need supposed to live? From @SueR10

Q9 – Do you think your landlord has done enough to consult with tenants over policies such as the ‘voluntary’ right to buy?

Q10 – What is the one thing your landlord could do to improve your quality of life?

Q11 – Let’s end on a positive, what’s the best thing about social housing?

HousingDayChat29Oct

Join in #HousingDayChat connecting tenants 29 October

HousingDayChat29Oct

The inaugural #HousingDayChat connecting tenants for a Twitter conversation will take place on Thursday 8-9pm on 29 October.

We have almost identified at least 50 social tenant volunteers via Twitter to participate in these chats to help support #HousingDay on 18 November. This will provide a springboard for further networking and campaigning.

If you recall the recent Scrutiny Live report underlines how important this work is. Its first key finding was that: “Tenants have valuable opinions and insight – not being heard in national policy debate. It is the duty of, and in the interests of, housing providers to support their tenants to get their voices heard.” The second main finding was that: “The biggest barrier to successful social housing is the attitude of the press, politicians and public to social housing tenants.”

We hope further chats will take place, including possibly one on Housing Day – it’s a new format and we’ll see how it goes. If you are a tenant or organisation who would like to participate, please follow and express your interest via @HousingDay on Twitter.

Jon Land former 24Housing editor will be the host of the session on the @Housingday handle and TPAS have kindly volunteered to produce a Storify post event. Please see our quick tips for participants below.

Ahead of the event we are looking for suggestions and themes for discussion e.g. Proudtenant. Please let us know if you have any ideas and questions for the chat session via tweeting @HousingDay or reply to this post.

Quick tips for Twitter participants (via Buffer Social)

  1. Give your Twitter followers a heads-up before you join a Twitter chat (“High tweet volume warning”) and share an invite to join the chat if it might be of interest to your followers.
  2. Reply directly for targeted conversations with one or two people.
  3. Include a “.” in front of an @ if you want your tweet to show up in all feeds. (Don’t worry if you’ve flubbed this in the past; it’s one of the most common Twitter mistakes!)
  4. It’s OK to dip in and out of a Twitter chat. Drop by for the time you have and don’t feel guilty if you can’t stay for the whole thing.
  5. Be polite and positive!
  6. Don’t be afraid to contribute and jump in! It can be intimidating, but trust me, the moderators and participants will be glad to hear from you!
  7. When answering a specific question or comment from another participant, use Twitter handles to identify who you’re speaking to in order to avoid confusion.
  8. Remember Twitter chats are about connecting and learning, not selling your product. Use the time to provide as much value on the given topic as possible and show your expertise without over-promoting.
  9. Always include the chat hashtag #HousingDaychat in your responses.
  10. Follow up with people after the chat! Keep the conversation going or get to know fellow participants on a more personal level. You never know what new connections you can make!

Tweetchat10tips

Other useful social media links

http://www.local.gov.uk/digital-councils/twitter-guide

Getting started with Twitter

 

 

1 in 4 milestone for ALMO’s self-service

Jamie Angus pic

Jamie Angus, Wolverhampton Homes communications expert follows up on their self service online journey and reaching a new a milestone.

Earlier this week our IT number-crunchers unearthed what has quickly become our first significant milestone on our journey to become a more digital-savvy organisation.

Over recent months, there’s been a wider debate in the corridors of social media about the channel shift journey of the UK’s housing sector. And amidst the hyperbole of drones and whose website was mobile responsive first there seems to be a general consensus that we’re all grappling with the same challenges: user experience and third-party back-office systems not integrating properly being two of the main gripes. Add in to that mix the need for the sector to bank savings ahead of what will likely to be one of the most turbulent financial times the sector has ever experienced then it’s a significant challenge which organisations need to have a plan to meet – and they need a plan now.

This week saw us break the 6,700 mark for registrations to our self-service do-it-online account. That’s a huge result for us which means that 1 in 4 of our tenants are registered and now have the option to pay their rent, update their details, book a repair (and select an appointment time as part of fully automated process which we’re rather impressed with!) and check their rent account whenever they want. But, like most others, we’re still grappling with some aspects which would make the journey an awful lot smoother. Automated direct debit forms, the ability to report anti-social behaviour straight in to our back-office system, web chat – the list goes on. Sadly we’re not ebay or Amazon in terms of user experience – but that’s something we as a sector are just going to have live with, for the moment at least.

The statistical cynic in me could say that registering 6,700 tenants is no big deal out of around 20,000+ potential users.  What makes this striking is that at this stage in our roll out these are all people who have taken the trouble themselves to get registered.

We’re potentially looking at automatically registering everyone with an account, or at least everyone who has a mobile number who doesn’t yet have an account – but we also know that the focus needs to be around active use of the service rather than simply sign up numbers.

That said, our usage stats have also hit a significant milestone.  For the first time last month, we got almost 1,000 users accessing and using their accounts. Still small-fry compared to our phone call numbers I grant you – but nonetheless, a significant milestone in terms of our journey to be a digital first organisation.

The other significant step we’ve taken is to conduct some research. We used last year’s STAR survey to establish how many tenants had internet access, either through computers, phones or tablets. With 40% saying they didn’t – if that sample was representative of our tenant base (which with 1,000 participants we think it is) then that’s nearly 10,000 households who face getting left behind in the modern world – especially with Universal Credit on its way to Wolverhampton in February. We’ve asked our MPs to write (well, email) the government to ask what plans it has to help council tenants who risk missing out by being digitally excluded).

We’ve got a ‘digital outreach’ group who are now using our data sets to identify those most at risk of needing to apply for Universal Credit and who are contacting more than 100 of those tenants a week to get email addresses, make sure they have the correct bank accounts and signpost those who need it, to computer classes and IT support.

It’s a start – but we’re hoping to make a big announcement next month about a local organisation who share our concerns and who are going to support our call for our city not to get left behind in the digital world.

We’ll keep you posted.

Put your tenants at the heart of #HousingDay

#HousingDay is back this year on 18 November

At up to 3,000 tweets per hour #HousingDay 2014 travelled at nearly the speed of a comet. The housing sector and its tenants came together for a truly amazing social media event. It produced a staggering 30,000 tweets and countless real stories, trending on Twitter all day. It peaked at number two behind #cometlanding with 6,000 contributors, reaching a potential audience of seven million people.Logo2015-01

Amidst the negative noise around social housing, we must ensure our collective voice is heard. Our focus for #HousingDay 2015 is to share stories of why our tenants are proud to live in their homes and communities. By putting them at the heart of #HousingDay we can help start to build a new narrative.

We’ve borrowed the simple ‘Proud to be a Tenant’ campaign from Berneslai Homes and given it a national platform. The challenge is to encourage tenants to explain why they are proud to be tenants of social housing and the difference it has made to their lives. Jenny Osbourne, CEO of TPAS was one of the first to get on board. She said: “For me the key this year is tenants taking centre stage, with the #proudtenant campaign within #Housingday. They rightly should do so with no spin and no filter. Tenants telling it, like it is about their experiences of living in social housing. We need more tenants to get involved. To be successful it needs to cut through the PR stories and hear the real ones. Our tenants are the key to ensure we regain the story in order to humanise, not demonise the sector.”

The recent Scrutiny Live report underlines how important this work is. Its first key finding was that: “Tenants have valuable opinions and insight – not being heard in national policy debate. It is the duty of, and in the interests of, housing providers to support their tenants to get their voices heard.” The second main finding was that: “The biggest barrier to successful social housing is the attitude of the press,
politicians and public to social housing tenants.”

This year, we will be looking to find at least 50 social tenant volunteers via social media and to connect them together. This will provide a springboard for further networking and campaigning. Why are your tenants proud to live in their homes or neighbourhoods?

Research opportunities

Last year’s #HousingDay research carried out in conjunction with Ipsos Mori’s Ben Marshall painted a picture of a British public favourable to social housing. By five to one they agreed rather than disagreed that social housing plays an important role in tackling poverty but many remain oblivious to the types of people who live in social housing. We will again be looking at research opportunities around #HousingDay, so if you have any ideas, get in touch.

Wider week of campaigning

This year #HousingDay will link up and be part of the National Housing Federation’s Community Impact Week (16 – 22 November). The Federation is organising a full week of activities focusing on good practice and highlighting the difference we make to communities.

Landlords and tenants are in this together, we need to include genuine tenant voices. If you have any one who wants to be involved, get in touch via @HousingDay and we will share proud tenant stories on 18 November.

Adrian Capon is part of Yorkshire Housing’s Communications Team.

This blog first appeared on Inside Housing real stories on 4 September 2015.

#HousingDay 2014

Survey-monkey-header

The social media based #HousingDay 2014 campaign spotlighted the housing sector and the people who make it special. The campaign is a true collaboration across UK housing involving tenants, trade bodies, tenant groups, suppliers and housing organisations.
It follows the success of #HousingDay 2013, a 24 hour tweetathon which achieved 10,045 tweets, reaching a potential audience of 1.8 million people, from 2,625 contributors – which aimed to raise the profile of the UK housing sector.

Aims

  • To inspire and engage with tenants/customers to create and share their stories.
  • To change perceptions of those people not living in social or council housing by those who do.
  • To challenge the stereotype of people living in social or council housing.

Objectives

  • Promoting a #HousingDay buzz – social media trending (RTs, Shares, and Mentions), increasing from 2013.
  • Creating and sharing a large number of crowd sourced tenant stories (high per cent video and photo).
  • Positive feedback of involvement and participation by tenants/customers.
  • Working together and collaborating as a sector.
  • Positive impact of stories challenging stereotypes and changing perceptions.

Creation
#HousingDay was motivated by the negative myths heaped upon social housing by TV coverage, by the negative portrayal of housing, such as Skint and Benefits Street.
To combat negativity, the focus for #HousingDay 2014 was to promote the creation of positive, new and untold housing stories. Calling for housing organisations to engage with their tenants – we could create a compelling narrative. Not from our point of view but from the tenant. We were looking for authentic, emotionally engaging and human stories – where the tenant is the hero. Richard McCann volunteered to show just how this could be done.

Promotion
The campaign kicked off in June on Comms2Point0 and presented at HouseParty14.
Included in the presentation, 24 Housing magazine pledged support to use their November edition. John Popham announced he was looking for sponsors to undertake a #HousingDay road trip on the day. The event was tweeted and attendees encouraged to support using Vines. On behalf of the National Federation of Housing, David Orr tweeted his support and Halton Housing shared a Vine, announcing the 12 November date.
A #HousingDay branded website, Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube. accounts were set up. Twitter was used to engage support and raise awareness by sharing the Richard McCann video. It also was shared at the Tenant Participation Advisory Service annual conference.
In the build up, support came from across the housing sector. This included: Tenant Participation Advisory Service, National Federation of ALMOs, National Federation of Tenant Management Organisations, PlaceShapers, Community Housing Cymru, Northern Housing Consortium, Chartered Institute of Housing, and the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Association.

In August Inside Housing ran a listicle, introducing five things the man behind #HousingDay was looking to achieve – including a call for collaborative research.
Prior to the day the NatFed of Housing promoted it as part of their Homes for Britain campaign. The special #HousingDay edition of 24 Housing magazine came out on 7 November featuring pledges of support and articles.24 housing front cover support housingday24 housing mag support article
#HousingDay Survey 2014

Also in August, a call for undertaking some collaborative research before #HousingDay was made. In total we received 27 financial pledges of support accumulating a budget of £21,000. The joint research collaboration was to find out the wider public perception of social housing and tenants.  Working with Ben Marshall, Research Director in the Housing team at Ipsos Mori, we put together a survey to circa 1,997 GB adult population. We undertook face-to-face in-home interviews between 24 October and 2 November. The findings report is attached.
This was an important first step to understand what the public knows and thinks about social or council housing. Recent research by Circle Housing and the Fabian Society was just a start. We were looking to go further to find out what the public know about social and affordable housing and how they perceive it, right or wrongly. The work was motivated by Ipsos ‘Perils of Perception’ work which highlighted how wrong the British public can be on the make-up of the population and the scale of key social policy issues. By shining a light on (mis)perceptions, the sector can seek to correct these.

 

#HousingDay 12 November
On 11 November John Popham set off on his #HousingDay 800 mile road trip to six housing organisations. This aimed to share stories and help support in promoting the day. Many other people got involved in promoting the day, including the Chartered Institute of Housing and Halton Housing 12 days to #HousingDay.
#HousingDay was covered online by Comms2Point0, Inside Housing and 24 Housing.
We released the research findings, Ipsos Mori slide share and info graphic across twitter, which provided debate. The Independent and Inside Housing reported this. To date the results slide share has received over 3,000 views.

A collection of tweets from a Storify provides a snapshot of housing stories. A Thunderclap issued from 385 supporters – reached 476,655 accounts at 2pm on the day.
Tenants shared their personal stories across Twitter and Facebook – for example @OngoUK and @Boltonathome.

Impact
Using TweetReach we recorded the volume of Twitter activity. TweetReach. HousingDay 2014 reached a potential audience of 7 million people, from 6,000 contributors and had 57.7 million exposures. #HousingDay started to trend on UK Twitter from 8am until 5pm. The first time any housing specific event had trended all day on Twitter at over 1,000 tweets per hour and peaking at 3,000 tweets per hour. Trendinalia housingday second place

Participation survey
We created a participation survey to look at the impact of #HousingDay.
A number of questions seek to establish the impact, channels, individual success and what should we be looking to do next.`This will be covered in a separate post.

Chart_Q10_141208Q7 What impact did houisngday have on you and your organisation

Delivering digital – why the housing sector needs a message that resonates

This is a guest blog by Jamie Angus of Wolverhampton Homes, in response to a call for case studies on the housing sectors approach to online customer self service. Jamie Angus pic

Last week saw the publication, probably for the first time, of a detailed state of play of the UK housing sector when it comes to delivering digital services.

All-in-all it doesn’t make for great reading in terms of the sector’s success of transforming service delivery in the digital age. Yet if you read the bloggersphere and believe the hype of the Twitteratti you’d think that the Jetsons’ hovercrafts were just weeks away.

The reality, which the self service report draws out, is that clunky IT systems, a lack of credible data on accessibility for tenants and a reluctance to promote a service which is far from Amazon-standard is holding us back.

But what strikes me the most is that as a sector we still haven’t nailed down why we’re doing this. We haven’t constructed the narrative as to why this is so important.

It reminds me of a great blog by Kate Bentham (@katebentham) where she refers to Channel Shove rather than Channel Shift.

We’ve all seen the transactional costs data and in a time where financially, we’re scrambling to strangle the last drop of value from every penny spent, we can see why online is such an attractive proposition. But if you go to any estate in Wolverhampton, or indeed any estate across the country, and tell tenants that going online is great – it’ll save us a fortune, then you can probably guess what most reactions will be. And this feels like the challenge we’re grappling with.

But the truth is, and this is the message which needs to resonate with tenants, they risk getting left behind if they’re not online. With Universal Credit on the horizon it’s never been more important that tenants, especially those of working age, get ready by being online. The stark reality could well be that no internet access equals no Universal Credit payment. I of course over simplify, but when you think about the message of missing out, it fits better with the raison d’etre of social housing. By not being online, tenants are missing out on job opportunities, financial savings, better energy deals, the chance to connect with friends and family. All of a sudden, the digital agenda ticks the moral boxes of financial and social inclusion, fuel poverty and social mobility.

At Wolverhampton Homes we’ve been grappling with the challenges of Channel Shift. It’s been an uncomfortable process but we’re making progress. And, in fact, although we may not have shouted the loudest, our statistics are credible and show we’re up there. The Yorkshire Housing report pretty much states there are no real pioneers yet. Yes, some are better than others at promoting it, but as a sector, we’re still finding our feet – but think of the potential if we all worked together to nail this.

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In Wolverhampton, with a tenant-base of 23,000 – nearly 6,000 are signed up to our do-it-online account. Last month, we had nearly 1,000 active users logging-in to either make a payment, change their details or book a repair. Interestingly, our repairs booking system (although it’s far from perfect) is fully automated into our back office systems and allows tenants to pick a time which suits them. No e-forms which go to a customer service advisor to manually input; it’s fully automated self-service.

But we know that for most people they’d still pick up the phone. As proud as we are of our website and its mobile-responsive design, booking a repair online isn’t sexy enough to drive thousands of tenants there.

But the challenge isn’t so much getting people to report repairs online; that should come later. Just being online is the key. People won’t come to our websites excited by the fact that the internet means they can book repairs or update their personal details. But they will be excited when they’re saving money, switching energy suppliers, helping their kids with their homework and applying for jobs and training. But that’s not a message we can deliver on our own –  so we’re looking to work with schools and businesses in the city to promote that message too.

It’s a long digital road ahead, and although the technology will no doubt improve, if we can’t win the hearts and minds of tenants and colleagues then it’s going to be an arduous journey.

But we can and will win the debate, we have to, our tenants have got too much to lose if we don’t.

If you’re interested in providing a case study – please get in touch with us.

Housing Customer Self Service Survey Results

Back in March we set off to learn more about online customer self service in housing. After crunching the numbers we can now share the results and findings. We think this is just the start of opening up collaboration, conversation and action to move forward. Below is the executive summary, our interpretation of the findings. You may have other views and that’s fine too.

Online-Service-CartoonExecutive Summary

Before distilling some of the key headlines from this study, it is worth pointing out that this is only a snapshot based on the 119 organisations that have responded to the Self Service in housing survey.

But, we have had a good sample of responses, thanks to all of you who have filled in the survey. It appears this is just the beginning of our journey – here we will run through some of the key findings:

Housing is shy to shout about services online – There is still some reluctance to accept that tenants use the internet like ‘we’ do. And some reluctance to promote heavily services to customers.

Customer accessibility tops concerns for growth – Lack of internet or WiFi access for tenants is still a perceived or actual barrier to confidence, in which self service can reach a big section of our customers.

Online digital services still in their infancy – Some feeling IT and IT suppliers are holding us back.

Housing online pioneers are few and far between – Many still with plans in development and those with online services are not getting significant online or self service volume per month. The gap between the pioneers and the rest is likely to continue to grow further.

Traditional rent and repair transactions dominate online services offered – These are a good starting point but are these being pushed to their full potential? A few are looking outside those areas more associated with estate management, like for example ASB incident reporting.

Responsive design favoured over downloadable apps – Of those thinking about improving their offer, a responsive web service design for mobile is becoming central to their future development.

Online chat is the hot new feature – For customer services over the web, having the ability to talk in real-time to users integrated with a customer contact centre is high on the ‘I want’ list.

Response bias from users of Orchard Systems – Obviously as a key market player in housing systems, their responses dominate as this solution only available to Orchard customers.

So the challenge and opportunity is that there is still a lot of work to do. It’s all to play for. But we must step up the pace, speed and agility to match with our customers’ expectations. And we have the potential to be much more collaborative in our design, thinking and solution sharing.

If we don’t – it will be our customers who we will fail the most.

We are looking forward to hearing your feedback and discussing further.

Thanks @AdeCapon @BrettSadler77 @HotPixUK

You can access here:

It’s time to say goodbye

This is a guest blog from Felicity Crossland who recently completed a two week work placement with the Yorkshire Housing comms team. She talks about her two weeks at Dysons – Felicity it was a pleasure having you as part of the team. 

I am sad to say that I have just finished my two week placement in the Communications department. It has been a fantastic opportunity for me to really get to grips with what exactly a communications team does and how they operate on a day-to-day basis.

When I first arrived here I was fairly apprehensive about what to expect. On previous work placements that I have been involved with I haven’t been given many things to do as well as being seen as an inconvenience for the team. However this was not the case at Yorkshire Housing. Upon arrival I was introduced to everybody in the team, who were all very welcoming.

After having a guided tour of the building I was asked what it was that I wanted to achieve during my time here – which was to extend my knowledge of communications and to build up my CV. I am glad to say that I have definitely been busy and I have learnt a variety of new skills to talk about in any future job applications.

Before arriving at Yorkshire Housing although I had completed a degree in English Literature and Theatre I had not actually had any experience of writing an article for a magazine of newspaper. From day one of my placement I was given interviews to carry out over the phone along with articles to write to go in the company magazines.

It’s been really interesting finding out about all of the different parts of Yorkshire Housing. I was unaware of Sheltered Housing, the Business Enterprise Service or Help to Buy and so actually meeting tenants and other individuals who were a part of those different schemes has really opened my eyes to how complex a housing association is.

The highlight of my two weeks was going out to the opening of Healey Gardens in Batley. As well as meeting the housing minister Kris Hopkins I really enjoyed speaking to different members of Yorkshire Housing staff who I had not met before to find out about their different roles. The free food was also rather good!

I am sure that everything I have learnt while working with the communications team will come in useful in my future work. I would like to thank everyone for being so welcoming and give a special thanks to Kathy Burke for thinking of so many different tasks for me to get involved with, all of which I have thoroughly enjoyed! I would also like to thank Lee Redpath and Mervin Straughan for arranging a mock interview for me which really prepared me for a graduate scheme interview I had whilst on my work placement.
I wish you all the best of luck for the future!