Increase sales productivity with Dynamics 365 and ClickDimensions.
Last December, Homes England reported that during April-September 2020, the number of housing starts was the lowest since 2012/13, at 11,313 homes. Housing completions had also decreased to 11,358 houses, the lowest since 2015/16. However, the reduction of both housing starts and completions is in part due to the pandemic.
Affordable housing comprised 79 per cent of housing starts in April-September 2020, a decrease of 32 per cent from the previous year, putting the number of affordable homes at its lowest since 2017/18. Housing providers are under pressure to provide affordable housing for those in need, and the pressure is greater during the current period of economic uncertainty, furlough, and redundancy.
With a large number of enquiries, housing providers have plenty of people ready to take a step on the property ladder through both full and shared ownership. The current problem is the lack of houses, making it even more important to match the right people to the right house within a suitable timescale.
Historically, housing providers have stored their enquiry, property and opportunity data in separate spreadsheets; this has affected communication and productivity by increasing the chance of human error. Spreadsheets lack clarity, so process simplification is essential to smooth-running systems.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 not only simplifies processes, workflows and enquiries, but also consumes data from external sources thanks to integration opportunities, thereby helping to synergise data.
Using one system from development to sale shortens lead times because it’s easy to understand when a property is available or when an enquiry would be a good match. By choosing to be proactive rather than reactive, operations become automated and streamlined, while centralising data on a common platform means that information can be consumed by multiple sources efficiently.
Housing providers have been using legacy housing management systems, with archaic allocation processes which are predominantly used for onboarding tenants rather than home-ownership sales. By shoehorning the sales processes into the legacy system, home ownership is a time-consuming and disorganised procedure.
In contrast, when information is stored in Dynamics 365, viewing the sales pipeline is simplified, and conversion rates, marketing data and KPIs are readily available via intuitive dashboards. This means that all enquiry-to-opportunity conversion data and the time taken from application to sale is up-to-date and readily available, at the same time as reducing human error and making analysis easier. The homebuying process isn’t just about sales, which is why full integration and customer-journey visibility is so important.
External sources such as property portals (e.g. Rightmove and Zoopla) can be integrated through Dynamics 365 to provide additional benefits. Some housing providers, such as Platform Housing, have integrated their own custom property portal to surface more interaction and information from customers. Buyers interested in shared ownership can be evaluated for suitability, and the custom platform proactively sells better-suited properties to the right people. With the current housing market in mind, the key to effective operational management should focus on productivity and managing the surge in demand through the sensible qualification of sales leads.
Customer data gathered through emails and conversations help with converting sales opportunities. For example, Microsoft Virtual Agent can capture the initial enquiry data and then probe deeper to match customers to a housing provider’s current portfolio. And with in-person viewings and show-home visits unavailable due to the pandemic, modern technologies (e.g. augmented reality) can be used to bridge the gap between housing provider and customer, with Virtual Agent not only capturing the data but also processing it.
The conveyancing process is not only simplified for the housing provider; customers can also view a portal which outlines the actions and stages for each process. By keeping the customer in the loop, their overall engagement and experience is more positive because they will be aware of any hold-ups or additional requirements. With different home-ownership options, including shared ownership and staircasing, each method is catered for and all of the processes are captured. The portal is flexible and easy to use, thanks to the low-/no-code Microsoft Power Platform, so updates or regulatory changes can be introduced quickly. By configuring the system, staircasing changes can be applied with a minimal amount of training. In this instance, Crimson isn’t the gatekeeper to the solution; just leave the technical details and the platform foundations to us and then make any adjustments and configurations using your internal teams.
Housing providers can deliver affordable homes for full or shared ownership to their customers to combat the current housing crisis while also improving cash flow to support the wider community. Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform improve proactiveness by reducing the chance of human error, improving clarity of information and shortening the sales process. The solutions capture demand to inform the development strategy, with support from Power BI and analytics. By organising the demand for housing, cancellations can be reduced, conversion rates can increase and sales cycles can be shortened, all without taking on any additional staff.
An efficient and productive housing provider can support the fringes of its community thanks to home sales.
To find out more about reducing time spent during the new home sales process, register for our next webinar at crimson.co.uk.
Let Crimson benchmark your current sales process to identify your pinch points and boost your teams’ productivity with integrated data and Dynamics 365 solutions.
Jordan Wheat is a new business consultant at Crimson.