Although tenants can’t necessarily choose their housing provider when looking for somewhere to live, they do expect their landlord to be able to deliver on all fronts, especially customer service. But how can housing providers’ contact centres keep up with tenants’ ever-increasing expectations and demands? And how can they resolve more complex queries while also making tenants feel that they are being heard and supported?
A new way of meeting tenants’ demands
While some housing providers have already begun to explore the use of automation in customer service, with technologies such as ‘autodialers’ being used to help with repetitive tasks, there is still more to be done.
Helping call-centre agents by introducing the likes of digital agents, robotic process automation (RPA) and chatbots will enable housing providers to offer integrated, multi-channel customer services.
Automating routine tasks for human agents and introducing the digital agent comes with many benefits.
The introduction of the digital agent
Introducing a digital agent is far more cost-effective that integrating systems. For example, when swapping out a system or needing to access a new one, the digital worker only needs to be shown where to go. Consequently, big IT overhaul projects aren’t needed.
Introducing chatbots – applications that seek to replicate human agents – onto websites who can answer routine FAQs, such as repair requests, will be beneficial to both the tenant and contact centre. Chatbots can be assigned to complete simple tasks, such as retrieving tenant data and answering support queries, by drawing on a list of pre-constructed answers or they can use AI and natural language processing (NLP) to ‘understand’ comments and questions from tenants.
Robotic process automation
Chatbots can also be integrated with an RPA bot to handle more complex queries at a higher rate. Chatbots together with RPA – a type of application programmed to complete certain menial software tasks such as populating forms – create a complementary technology pairing that will help both the tenant and human agent, with the chatbot forming an easy-to-use front-end for the tenant that will trigger the RPA bot to complete more complex tasks in the background. When the tenant gets through to the agent, the repetitive tasks will already have been completed and the agent can focus on the more complex parts of the query.
Working behind the scenes
This chatbot-RPA combination could even solve the tenant’s query without them ever having to pick up the phone. For example, if a tenant wants to change their address and two systems need to be updated and a confirmation letter sent out, the chatbot and the RPA system can work together, with the chatbot gathering the tenant’s new information, which will then activate an RPA process to manage all of the internal workflows. The tenant won’t be aware of this and will simply receive a friendly confirmation message from the chatbot. As a result, the human agent wasn’t bothered with this simple query and can spend time on a more complex call, and the tenant didn’t have to wait on the line.
Adding automation also improves the level of service that is available. If human agents don’t have to waste time on mundane tasks, they can offer a more personal, in-depth interaction with the tenant. Not only will the tenant feel valued, and more likely to forgive the odd mistake, but the agent will also feel more valued and more inclined to provide a better customer experience if they feel their efforts are being appreciated. Adding in KPIs and other reward incentives will ensure that agents feel they are being rewarded for providing the very best customer service.
Making tenants happy not only saves money, but by introducing digital agents to contact centres, staff and tenants alike will reap the benefits of a more efficient and personalised experience where they feel valued and heard.
Josh Ayres is the head of emerging technology at IP Integration.