“Alexa: open Housing Solutions”

At a time when almost all of us make some kind of digital transaction every day, we as a sector should be asking ourselves, why should our tenants interactions with their landlords be any different?

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Recent research found that 92% of housing association tenants have access to digital devices and two-thirds of tenants would be willing to report issues online, making services faster, easier and more convenient.

With this research in mind the housing sector should be focusing on how to make their transactions, and interactions with tenants more digital as we risk potentially disappointing and frustrating our customers.

Our new Digital IT Strategy approved earlier this year, was driven by Housing Solutions’ organisational objective to support our customers.

Following customer feedback and an independent survey we recognized the ongoing need to focus on ways to increase efficiency, particularly through investment in new IT systems to underpin the strides we have made in improving customer satisfaction.

We have really raised the bar and thought of how we could perform better and what new services we could introduce to improve communication and interaction with our tenants who, like many of us, like the flexibility of multi channel methods of interaction and the ease of communicating through and app or device.

In response to this requirement we entered into an innovative and exciting collaboration with Castleton Technology.

We have adopted an AI Manager with Amazon Alexa Skill which enables customers to access the improved Customer portal with voice commands on their Alexa device any time of the day or night.

The self-service AI platform allows customers to ask routine request, such as balance updates, updating details and logging repairs, repairs history.

This has also facilitated our customer contact centre to be able to offer a more assisted level of call handling to non-digital enquiries.

One of the huge benefits of this system is the real time feedback we receive.

If a tenant were to ask Alexa for a service we don’t yet offer, Alexa will feed this back to us real time so that we can look to make improvements to the skill. It will also pass the tenant through to our call centre directly who will be able to help them with their request.

This allows my team to constantly evolve the skill to ensure it is always offering the tenant the services they need.

In preparation for this service and to make sure that AI is available for our customers, I have made extensive provisions to increase the supply of Wi-Fi across 500 of our homes with more being rolled out.

We have a very ambitious target of doubling our Wi-Fi offering to our customers this year.

By equipping our customers with intuitive application access which is straight forward and easy to use it makes a new approach to an existing activity more appealing and easier to adopt.

A video of the solution can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdf_8WqT2KI&t=45s

In an age when customers can access vast amounts of information instantly, it is fundamental to our success as a sector that we become truly digital and make this the first choice for our customers, enabling them to access our services at a time and place convenient to them.

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