Earlier this year, GreenSquare held a ‘digital visioning’ day with a large group of staff and colleagues as we get ready for digital transformation. This transformation is due to our need to increase customer satisfaction and find new ways to deliver services on a more flexible and cost-effective basis.
We are currently in the middle of digitising services for customers and staff by developing mobile working and workforce-scheduling technologies. This has included moving to Microsoft Office 365, Power BI and Azure to provide online backups and ‘hot’ disaster recovery, while improving our use of informatics (information management practices) to drive improved decision-making.
We reached a tipping point because of the impact of the autumn 2015 budget on our income. The loss of revenue needs to be made up by efficiencies and productivity gains generated through digital advancements. We also need to substantially increase the number of homes we produce as a sector. So basically, we need to do more for less and simply rearranging the furniture won’t do! Going digital will allow us to respond to an increasingly challenging environment while creating a genuine and unprecedented opportunity for transformation and organisational renewal.
Our digital strategy is about looking at what GreenSquare will be like in the future, and how we can use current technologies to help us achieve our aspirations. It’s also about working out how we can change the way we work to make the most of the benefits while avoiding possible pitfalls. As a result, we are implementing a digital strategy that comprises five projects:
- Field service management and mobile working;
- Digital construction methods;
- Information management to drive actionable insights;
- Office 365 and SharePoint rollout for GDPR.
One of our most exciting developments is our new self-service portal, which includes 100 per cent end-to-end, fully-automated repairs processing with a range of appointments offered to customers, and sourced from the dynamic scheduling engine with the ability to rebook appointments.
However, the key thing when it comes to successfully implementing any change is involving the people who will be involved in that change from an early stage. That way everyone understands what’s going on and, more importantly, those people will have the opportunity to shape the change based on their own perspectives and expertise.
We gathered around 60 colleagues from across the organisation for a ‘digital vision’ workshop where we heard more about what ‘going digital’ was all about, and in particular that digital isn’t an end in itself but a way to achieve our wider objectives and aspirations, what others were already doing, and also a bit about some of the developments we have in the pipeline at GreenSquare. Colleagues then had some fun creating newspaper front-page stories describing how we might be in 2020 and 2025.
In order to capture everything that was discussed, we used a graphic facilitator to create a picture of the day.
We will be using the output from this session, alongside other information and activities, to develop our digital road map for 2018 and beyond. This will look at:
- Where we are now, considering skills gaps, training requirements, the kit we have and the systems we use;
- Where we want to be, but being clear about our aims – how ‘digital’ do we want to be and what outcomes do we want to achieve;
- How we are going to get there, including the projects, training, software, hardware and so on.
We invited David Done, Richmond Housing Partnership’s CEO, to join the digital workshop via Skype for Business. He explained the digital transformation journey that RHP has been on, and how he has led the development of a new business model that exploits digital opportunities as a service delivery platform.
David Done, CEO, Richmond Housing Partnership, said, “It seemed only right that a talk about developing a digital-first culture should be delivered via Skype – a first for me! This has actually been a year of many firsts for RHP, most notably launching the UK’s first all-digital housing service, RHPi. Since going live in April 2016, we’ve welcomed 272 RHPi customers to their new homes. The setup of the service is simple, new customers get a good quality home on a five-year, fixed-term tenancy, are entitled to essential and emergency repairs, and 24/7 access to online services including the opportunity to receive digital employment advice and support.
“So a year on, how has it gone? The thing we’re proudest of is the overall satisfaction rate of RHPi customers, which is currently 94 per cent. RHPi customers have pinpointed that they find our online services easy and convenient and that it fits in with their lifestyle, which is music to our ears. Our bottom line has also benefitted from this new way of doing business because we’ve had a 30 per cent reduction in customer contact costs.
The launch has in fact gone so well that, after a successful consultation last year, as of last month all customers now benefit from receiving our RHPi services (apart from the small majority who have been identified as non-digital, in which case they can still call us). This means that they contact us in a digital way rather than over the phone, access services via our website and have an essential and emergency repairs service. Although this sounds like a massive leap, we’ve spent a number of years getting our customers ready for this move. It’s still early days but the first signs have been positive. In the first week alone calls reduced by 7% and webchats increased by 50%, and feedback from customers has been optimistic. We’re also running ongoing digital sessions for any of our customers who’re not confident online to keep supporting them with the transition.”
To paraphrase RHP’s Done’s remarks, the best advice for any organisation aiming to progress their digital offering is to be brave and bold; your customers will be more ready for the move than you might expect. Make sure your employees understand why you’re making the changes (after all, they’ll need to be your biggest advocates in nudging customers online) and focus on the accessibility of your services.
Rob Fletcher is group head of ICT at GreenSquare Group.