Platform Housing has spent the months of lockdown working with Microsoft specialist Crimson on digital transformation, mainly around its implementation of Microsoft Dynamics CRM throughout its core business areas.
In addition to creating automation and consistency across Platform Housing’s business processes, the project will also enable it to harmonise complex services across the group’s operations, covering service response for home ownership and lettings, finance and asset management, and customer experience and communication, all from a single solution.
Jonathan Cocker, chief information officer, Platform Housing, said, “We wanted a way to consolidate several legacy systems so that we could quickly and easily access customer and property information from a single environment.
“Just as consumers are becoming accustomed to shopping online and having delivery in an instant, they are expecting the same type of digital response in all aspects of life. What we like about Dynamics CRM is that it is a customer-focused solution that will help us to improve our operational efficiencies specifically around the changing needs of all our customers, whether they’re tenants or homeowners.
“One of the challenges we had before was managing a high volume of daily customer calls, yet these were often transactions the customers could do themselves if we had a self-service platform. Now instead of phoning our customer service team for a simple enquiry, such as a rent balance, tenants can now log into the self-service system and view this information online.
“This was difficult before because we had disparate systems that would often hold different information. With Microsoft Dynamics, we have a single version of the truth, ensuring tenants and customers can always access accurate data.”
The first phase of the digital transformation project involved Crimson developing the system architecture, a process that was threatened to be curtailed by the start of the lockdown in March.
Ciara McMillan, account director, Crimson, “We needed to understand Platform Housing’s operational processes in order to identify areas where the workflow, automation and process-flow capabilities of Dynamics CRM could add efficiencies. This process continued during lockdown, with both teams continuing the digital transformation project using video conferencing and technical development taking place from the homes of Crimson’s technical team.”
Cocker said, “The lockdown demonstrated exactly why it’s important for housing providers to have an effective digital strategy and customer service solution so that they can continue to communicate with and serve customers even during the most extreme circumstances. Empowering customers with information about their housing situation and having the ability to deliver accurate data at the exact point of need is the key to developing digital communities built on trust and transparency.
“The beauty of Dynamics CRM is that it’s built with customer service at its heart, rather than operations. For us, it means that we can operate in tandem with our communities and be more proactive. Even the smaller things, such as the in-built AI within Dynamics CRM, mean that we can be more proactive on behalf of our customers.