In the last edition of Housing Technology, I discussed how mobile apps, portals, virtual agents (AI-enabled chatbots) and other digital channels can help housing providers manage issues such as repairs and anti-social behaviour. The next stage of this process is managing formal complaints, including escalation to the housing ombudsman’s complaints process.
Listening to tenants
In the Charter for Social Housing Residents’ whitepaper, one key issue highlighted was that tenants “didn’t feel listened to when they raised concerns and complaints”. Our recent ‘housing breakfast’ webinar showed housing providers how to manage issues, but the next step is managing customers’ complaints and in doing so treating tenants with dignity and respect.
Tenants sit at the heart of social housing, and tenants expect to have their complaints dealt with promptly and fairly, alongside access to fair redress from the ombudsman. Complaints management is not only key to customer satisfaction, but the number of complaints can also provide insights into how the housing provider is operating and highlighting the ways it could improve.
Ultimate case management tool
Dynamics 365 is the ultimate tool for case management. A complaint can enter the process via a simple email, which in turn triggers the creation of case, an auto-reply email, and the case is then entered into a queue. It’s then assigned to a case worker, who has a conversation with the complainant to either resolve the complaint or escalate it to the ombudsman.
Because Dynamics 365 enables customers to raise complaints at every lifecycle stage, through a virtual agent, contact centre or online, it is suitable for all ages, abilities, and technologies. Complaints can be automatically passed to the relevant department, with SLAs to ensure complaints are handled quickly.
Speed and accuracy
As a cloud-based platform, Dynamics 365 can be accessed anywhere, allowing housing providers’ field-based staff to log, update and resolve complaints remotely. Not only does this ensure details from home visits aren’t forgotten, but it also improves the accuracy and speed of the complaint-handling process for tenants.
Customer portals enable complainants to check the progress of their complaints rather than waiting for an update or chasing administrative staff. Tenants can log into the portal (which can also be used to submit complaints) which then leads them through a transparent process until the complaint is resolved or escalated. This reduces the administrative burden and cuts the customer service time, giving customer care staff more time to work on complex cases, and means tenants can access all of their information whenever and wherever they want.
Satisfied tenants are the key to a successful housing provider; while reducing complaints is the overall aim, the next-best option is to handle the complaints efficiently.
Jordan Wheat is a new business consultant at Crimson.