Sir – The potential impact of welfare reform is the most significant risk faced by housing providers in recent history. However, it is also seen by forward-thinking boards as an opportunity for positive change.
The exact degree to which cash flows and revenues will be affected by universal credit is uncertain. With many housing providers currently factoring the projected impact of bad debt into their 2014/2015 budgets, a significant number of tenants still don’t have bank accounts and will be expected to manage their own rent payments for the first time.
Such volatile and uncertain conditions underline the importance of developing a business transformation strategy where people, processes, and technology are re-aligned to promote and enable new and agile ways of working while delivering excellent customer services and maintaining existing services.
Using technology for ‘channel shifting’ is important to consider. By ‘nudging’ and shifting certain tenant interactions and transactions from traditional methods such as telephone, face-to-face or post to more cost-effective forms of communication, such as social media, AVR or online self-service leaves housing providers’ customer service teams with more time to deal with more complex tenant queries. At the same time, mobilising the workforce through anywhere-anytime access to business applications and collaboration tools delivers significant productivity gains.
These initiatives will create huge efficiency savings for housing providers while improving tenants’ engagement and experience with customer service departments. Selective use of managed services can also improve business agility, reduce risk and improve customer service, allowing in-house teams to focus on core business initiatives.
Account Director for Housing, Intrinsic