Many housing providers are being turned on to the benefits of tenant portals. Allowing residents to pay rent and log repairs online can encourage the prompt resolution of issues, free up time for housing staff and aid the improvement of call-response SLAs, but has the full potential of an intelligently-deployed tenant portal been properly explored?
If one of your residents has a blocked drain or a faulty electrical socket, they may well call your housing team to book a tradesman to resolve the issue. Between taking details, arranging an available time that is suitable for the resident and possibly revising this appointment at a later date, a significant burden is placed on your housing staff to carry out this simple request.
Making a tenant portal available to your residents can help to develop this process. No longer confined to office hours, residents can fill in a simple online form that will generate an email sent directly to your housing team who can then book the engineer and notify the resident.
Although superficially an improvement, can’t you streamline the repair logging process further and make sure that the potential of your data and systems is met? By drilling down to the core aspects of the customer experience and looking beyond this standard solution, it is possible to empower your residents and improve your business efficiencies at the same time.
To get the most out of your tenant portal, it is important to first consider how both your residents and your housing staff can benefit and then look at your back-office systems and data to see how they can be used to facilitate improvements.
The key to running the tenant portal successfully is the integration of existing back-office systems and reliable property and tenant data. By allowing your tenant portal to query the availability of tradesmen in real time, rather than relying on a member of the housing team, time slots can be presented to the resident before confirming the booking, thereby automating a potentially painful and time-consuming process and streamlining communication by removing the need for unnecessary phone calls and emails.
By using web services, XML data can be transmitted to and from different systems, effectively allowing separate databases to communicate and interact with each other. Using one of the preferred web-based diagnostic tools, a resident can identify the type of repair required and therefore the associated SOR code necessary. This allows the correct allocation of a tradesman which feeds into the scheduling system to present the available appointment slots for that type of repair requiring that particular type of tradesman.
This can then be allowed to communicate with a repair management system, which contains data on everything concerning the repair itself: cost, tenant details, billing liability and so on. Once a full data package of the requirements has been established, a repair can be electronically logged. The tradesmen skillsets required are mapped out with the scheduling system used for availability.
With or without a tenant portal, these three systems will need to be engaged during the lifecycle of a repair. With a basic tenant portal, the burden of querying these systems will remain with your housing team. With the intelligent layer and web services integrating your systems and presenting an online tenant portal, this time consuming task is lifted from your housing staff and resources can be freed up.
Key to this functionality is the reliability of property and tenant data. By providing a tenant portal that allows residents to maintain their own personal data, including equality and diversity information, data capture can be enhanced in a manner which contributes to time savings and efficiency improvements as part of a fully thought-out systems and data deployment.
Through intelligent deployment, it is possible to provide a tenant portal that gives your residents complete control of the repair logging process. Housing providers are often governed by strict SLAs regarding response times to phone calls; an automated self-service tenant portal eases the burden on telephony support staff who would otherwise be tied up fielding repair requests.
With the operational benefits that come with the significant time savings to your housing staff, it is well worth the time invested prior to deployment to ensure that your tenant portal brings the maximum possible benefits.
In bringing measurable benefits to your residents and to your housing staff, the intelligent use of software to enhance your back-office systems and to provide a functional, intuitive tenant portal is not only achievable for your organisation; it is another step towards the constant service development and improvement that every housing provide strives to achieve.
Daniel Case is lead Developer for Network Resource Group.