Imagine living in a house without solid foundations – you wouldn’t consider it, would you? Yet that’s exactly what you’re doing when you are managing your tenants with poor quality data.
Good quality data is the foundation to success
A recent data health check for a mid-sized housing provider, undertaken by Sagacity Solutions in partnership with Castleton Technology, illustrated just how widespread data problems can be, revealing that a staggering 40 per cent of tenant data across 800 properties was inaccurate. The health check showed that none of the address records fully matched the format and content of current address reference data due to data input errors, a lack of upfront validation and failures to comply with postal address formats. In addition, only 40 per cent coverage was found against tenant email addresses (compared with Ofcom research showing that 79 per cent of UK adults have an email address).
Up-to-date and accurate information is key to successful tenant management and can dramatically improve a wide range of operational processes. It can also address the many challenges within social housing including the identification of illegal subletting, lack of tenant availability, GDPR compliance and effective tenant services.
Cleaner data can help you to better understand who your tenants are by improving unknown or incorrect characteristics such as names, email addresses and telephone numbers. With the addition of extra details and updated information, you can provide improved support for your tenants.
The use of technology to deliver clean data is the most efficient and cost-effective way to verify a property’s tenant, identify who is living at a property and pinpoint additional or alternative tenants. Currently, around 50,000 properties in the UK are unlawfully occupied but with improved visibility over who your tenants are or should be, housing providers can better identify instances of illegal subletting and act to improve housing availability and reduce waiting lists.
Accurate tenant data also supports compliance efforts surrounding GDPR and meeting DPA responsibilities around ‘knowing your tenant’ through the use of clean and verified personal data so you know who your tenants are, where they are and how to contact them.
Tenant support can also be improved because correct contact details enable housing providers to deliver more effective communications, leading to a better tenant experience. Simple things such as communicating with the correct email address and addressing letters to the correctly-named tenant are sure-fire ways to improve efficiencies.
And finally, improving the tenant experience also contributes to significant cost savings because there is less wasted postage thanks to improved accuracy of contact information. An additional reduction in returned mail and greatly improved invoicing and collections processes ensure that operational efficiency goes up and associated costs go down.
What if you want to upgrade your systems?
Well, the problem is further exacerbated. If you invest in great new software without ensuring the quality of your data is sound beforehand, no matter how good the software, you will never truly realise the full business benefit.
At best, you will need to build in a series of work-arounds, deal with ongoing customer issues and experience increased operational costs. At worst, you will have made a significant business investment, failed to realise your business benefits and be left with a solution that still doesn’t meet your business needs.
Sagacity Solutions’ CEO, Anita Dougall, said, “Data integrity is particularly relevant when migrating data onto new software platforms; ensuring data accuracy delivers a quick win towards achieving increased efficiency and improving your competitive edge.”
What’s the answer?
The answer is clear – ensuring your data is clean and accurate will pay dividends; remember the adage ‘rubbish in, rubbish out’.
But don’t just take our word for it. Connect Housing has recently engaged Castleton and Sagacity’s data service partnership to help it improve its data quality in advance of the implementation of its new housing management system (HMS).
In addition to the various data solutions from Castleton, Connect’s migration of data from one platform to another will be processed through Sagacity’s ‘health check, cleanse and append’ services to identify and fix incorrect or missing tenant information and will ensure all data is accurate and up-to-date before the migration. This means that its new housing platform will contain only the latest and most accurate information, allowing it to better support its tenants and realise the business benefits of its new HMS.
Richard Baggott, customer experience manager, Connect Housing, said, “Moving to a new integrated platform represents a major investment in our future. Ensuring that our data is as accurate as possible before we make the move is a ‘no brainer’!”
Clean data means good performance
Whether you want to improve your operational efficiency, increase customer satisfaction, improve regulatory compliance or migrate to a different software platform, the quality of your tenant data is fundamental.
A data health check is just one of the many ways you can help achieve cleaner, more accurate tenant information. The more accurate the data, the more you know about your tenants, leading to better performance… after all, you wouldn’t live in a house without solid foundations so why manage your housing stock without them?
Malka Townsend is the COO and founding partner of Sagacity Solutions.