Since 2006, United Welsh has used SMS technology to communicate information about their arrears and details around their 28-day repair requests to its tenants. The system was successful at a certain level, but the communication exchange was fragmented because the complexity of the messages to be conveyed about arrears was not suitable for SMS interaction.
In order to improve its repairs service and extend its support for SMS, United Welsh implemented Capita OpenHousing and Open Mobile alongside Xmbrace’s Opti-Time scheduling tool to provide an appointment system which could integrate its existing SMS technology and allow automated SMS messages to be sent to tenants to fix a time for repair work to take place.
Tracy Williams, head of information systems, United Welsh, said, “We had seen some of the benefits of using SMS technology and wanted to move the process on to the next level.
“We did a thorough review of what was available and were impressed by the combination of OpenHousing with Open Mobile and Opti-Time, due to the way the solution easily integrates with our SMS capability.”
United Welsh now communicates its information on repairs to all tenants by text where possible. A text is sent when the initial appointment is booked to inform the tenant when the contractors are coming, a second text reminds tenants the day before, and a third text tells the tenant when the operative is on the way to their property.
Williams said, “This method of communication is beneficial in many ways. It keeps tenants up-to-date so they are not left in confusion over repair work plans. It also offers us better deployment of resources as before the SMS technology was used, there were many instances when the tenants were not at home when contractor staff called. By reminding tenants of when repairs are taking place, we have considerably reduced the likelihood of this happening.”
When letting properties, United Welsh uses a choice-based letting system to ensure people can decide where they want to live; the property is awarded to the applicant whose need is most urgent. United Welsh previously printed and distributed 8500 leaflets every fortnight to advertise new properties. Now all of the properties are available online, with tenants alerted by text message, and only 500 leaflets need to be produced, mainly for older residents.
Williams concluded, “Being able to send text messages to tenants to inform them of the latest available properties has had a positive effect on staff resources, costs, and our green considerations.”