It is key for any housing provider to keep in close contact with its tenants, resolving any queries they may have, ensuring they are aware of the latest government regulations and how that affects their social and economic well-being.
EMH Group take these responsibilities seriously and they are embedded into our core values. That’s why we are working with partners Montal and 5i, who in turn work with solutions provider Enghouse Interactive, to develop solutions that meet our tenants’ needs, and why we have invested in the Enghouse Interactive Communications Centre system to coordinate our customer services operations.
When we bought our first CRM system, we only had a handful of customer service advisors but after significant growth, we now have more than 80 advisors. That growth, combined with the introduction of universal credit and other legislations, has crystallised our thinking about how to optimise the engagement process with our tenants.
Focus on what matters most to tenants
When faced with myriad new challenges, the best practice for housing providers is often to take a step back and focus on what matters most to the tenants. Our tenants have consistently told us that it is the quality of the call-handling and the knowledge of the advisers that is most important to them. That’s why when implementing the Enghouse Interactive Communications Centre, we wanted to invest in the associated call-recording and agent-evaluation software.
Put a focused team in place
It’s a good idea to develop a dedicated customer experience team that can act as a central intelligence hub and manage all types of feedback coming into the organisation, such as compliments, complaints or general feedback through surveys. Having a central resource also makes it easier for you to establish escalation processes for problems that need urgent attention or rapid resolution.
Collaborate across the business
Whether you want to set up a new customer contact centre or just enhance your existing one, never view it purely as a customer service, IT or telephony project. Instead, you need to look at it as a business project that everyone across the business works on together. You need to engage with tenants and other stakeholders to understand what kind of service they are looking for and how you are going to deliver it, what is likely to work and what investments you might need to make sure it happens.
Integrate your ICT systems
You don’t want your staff to have to use multiple applications; it’s confusing for them and inefficient. Use CTI integration to reduce the number of screens and applications your advisors need to use and you’ll see productivity and efficiency benefits as a direct result.
Keep things simple for tenants
It’s not just about making it straightforward for your own team; you need to make sure that the whole process is as simple as it can be for your tenants. Technology can help you achieve this, plus it’s helpful to have just one inbound contact number, backed by a streamlined contact centre that can deal with queries received and by whatever channel.
David Morris is head of customer services at EMH Homes and Helen Bradford is head of ICT at EMH Group.