“We heard from some residents that making a complaint can be difficult and take too long, and that it can sometimes take months for the complaint to be resolved or for the resident to be able to access the Housing Ombudsman.”
The charter for social housing residents’ whitepaper, released in 2020, highlighted the need to provide tenants with effective methods of raising their concerns. Housing providers must ensure that all residents can make complaints and can do so confidently. It’s also important that tenants understand the procedures and how their complaints will progress over time. Housing providers face time constraints to handle complaints before the Housing Ombudsman or their local MP gets involved and a formal investigation is launched.
Antisocial behaviour & other complaints
Social housing tenants have an above-average chance of being victims of antisocial behaviour, and they have the right to feel safe, secure and stable in their homes without fear of antisocial behaviour. While local authorities and the police play a role in tackling antisocial behaviour, housing providers must also take responsibility for providing support and assistance.
The key to providing all tenants with the ability to confidently raise complaints is omni-channel engagement. As mentioned in my previous Housing Technology article (July 2021), omni-channel engagement is vital for great customer satisfaction and provides a rounded view of tenants. Therefore, tenants should be able to log complaints via several channels in order to cater to a variety of demographics, IT abilities and circumstances.
Using the Microsoft Stack
Tenant portals act as a central hub for queries, resources and complaints. Tenants can get in touch with contact centre staff, where complaints can be logged, amended and tracked, giving tenants clarity on their progress.
Some tenants may prefer to log their complaints via email or phone. Microsoft Power Platform’s AI Builder can perform ‘sentiment analysis’ across emails and calls using AI to improve the speed and effectiveness of complaints handling. The AI builder can monitor and analyse whether emails or phone calls are positive, negative or neutral, thereby providing insights into tenants’ views.
Another method of logging complaints is via a virtual agent. Tenants can chat live with contact centre agents to ask questions, discuss complaints or be directed to the portal. Not only is this a faster response than the portal, but it’s also more personal and builds greater rapport with tenants.
Throughout complaint processes, tenants will often need to upload photos to support their complaints. Microsoft Azure’s Computer Vision can automate the photo reviewing process by recognising both faces and objects. This standardises complaints by objectively reviewing the complaints, which can then be passed onto the repairs team or other relevant department. Once again, this speeds up the complaints process and ensures fairness across all claims.
Following a complaint, housing providers need feedback from the complainants to learn from any mistakes and share successes in the form of testimonials. Customer Voice automates the feedback process and can automatically direct tenants to place a review on Google.
Robotic process automation (RPA) can manage the back-office side of the complaint-handling process by automatically bringing tenant data together from legacy systems by using low-code automation. RPA can also be used for automating manual processes relating to external applications, such as complaints received via the Housing Ombudsman or a local MP.
Choice of channel
By using a range of Microsoft solutions to deal with customer complaints, housing providers can build trust with tenants, all thanks to having a choice of channel. As previously mentioned, it is still important to manage omni-channel engagement effectively, to ensure all complaints are dealt with in a timely manner.
If you’re interested in finding out more about using Microsoft products to handle complaints efficiently, come along to our next ‘housing breakfast’ webinar for in-depth demos of our Microsoft solutions.
Jordan Wheat is a new business consultant at Crimson.