Digital transformation gives housing providers the ability, among other benefits, to create seamless communications and to transform business processes. And particularly in the case of housing mergers and acquisitions, seamless communications are essential when faced with two (or more) telephony systems, networks and call centres.
Deconstructing digital transformation
Digital transformation doesn’t have to be a complex mission hampered by large budgets or lengthy timescales. With help from external technology suppliers and consultancies, you can simplify your digital transformation by deconstructing it into manageable projects while still creating a well-thought out strategy that integrates with your existing technologies.
Proof of concept
The next step is to test out the solution by piloting it to reduce the fear and risk of change. Cloud-based solutions make it much simpler to test out new ideas quickly and provide you with cost-savings and flexibility to add on technology and applications when desired.
This year, with Brexit looming large, the fear of spending is still prevalent, with companies wanting to reduce costs and extend the life of existing systems. The good news is that housing providers need to rip out existing systems and replace them. They can protect their existing assets and add on technologies and applications when desired. A solution provider can work with you to discover where using technology will improve the customer experience, while reducing costs at the same time.
By adopting a flexible cloud infrastructure, you can produce ‘micro services’ through open APIs, using your existing technologies and deploying new ones as and when you require, giving you the flexibility to augment existing systems with unified communications, AI and automation.
A seamless tenant experience
Disruptive technologies such as AI and robotic process automation (RPA) can drive internal and external engagement.
Some tenants want to use self-serve contact centres to access the answers to basic questions; a conversational AI solution can self-learn the content from your website and the tenants’ conversations that take place in webchats, recognising and pre-empting their needs. If the enquiry becomes complex or they want the next level of detail then they can choose to speak to an agent either by phone or video. This enables agents to focus on delivering an outstanding service and reduces callers’ frustrations from being transferred from one agent to another.
AI and RPA can also be used for housing providers’ staff, for example to automate contracts, rent statements and reporting, helping to make the administration side more efficient and enabling mobile staff to spend more time focusing on delivering a superior tenant service rather than on paperwork.
Staff can spend less time on admin and more time out visiting properties to determine what repairs need doing, then hold a video call with maintenance teams showing them the issues and book in the repairs. Alternatively, tenants can perform the same task on their mobiles.
Integration is the answer
By creating a ‘smart inbox’, you can ensure that everything is viewed within a single portal, making it easier for the agent and the client. All interactions are then integrated over an orchestration layer, connecting everything together in the front and back offices. A Forrester survey revealed that 64 per cent of its respondents stated that a lack of a single view of information was one of their biggest challenges in CRM.
Integration is the backbone of technology, and if a technology project fails to deliver it is often due to a lack of front- and back-office integration.
Tenants want to be able to select how and when they communicate with their housing provider, and they expect it to be a seamless experience. This is impossible to deliver if agents have to manage multiple systems simultaneously. The objective of a multimedia contact centre is to deliver a joined-up customer journey but that can only be delivered if all the systems are integrated into the front and back offices.
Transforming business, not just IT
Digital transformation is not just about the technology; it is about the wider organisation and how technology can be used to increase the RoI on human capital and boost revenues.
AI and RPA jointly provide you with the flexibility to discover new ways of working to increase productivity, efficiency and effectiveness by improving internal and external process, transforming your business to strengthen and deepen internal and external client engagement.
Less haste, more speed
More speed and less haste – digital transformation is an evolutionary journey and best approached like stepping-stones. There is no need to rush and get a quick fix that will only deliver short-term gains. It is advised that you approach it strategically so you can have a well-thought out strategy and solution that will be delivered with speed and deliver long-term gains.
Jonathan Sharp is a director of Britannic Technologies.