Customer communication: The key to remobilising housing appointments
As lockdown measures ease, housing providers are gradually reinstating repair and maintenance visits. But with a backlog of appointments to work through, landlords have their work cut out to comply with recommendations.
In a recent poll by Inside Housing, attendees were asked to state their top concern around compliance, with there now being a backlog of work. Access was the main worry, chosen by 48 percent of respondents.
It’s understandable that residents are uncomfortable - even anxious - about opening up their homes. The normal uncertainty around service appointments is compounded by health and safety fears. This can lead to ‘no-access’ visits, increased inbound calls, and a stressful day for tenants, technicians and backroom staff.
Automated communications help tenants and technicians prepare for appointments - so all parties feel confident on the day of the service. Here’s how DLOs and contractors have levelled up their customer communications during the pandemic.
Preparing for appointments
Leading up to the day of service, it’s important to offer appointment reminders and opportunities to confirm, reschedule, or cancel services. Offer instructions that the customer needs to be aware of - such as which rooms to prepare, and how they can help the technician to maintain social distancing. This helps tenants mentally and practically to prepare for the appointment.
When it comes to the day of the visit, an open-ended ETA window can cause unnecessary anxiety. Customers may feel trapped in their homes, unable to pop out for exercise, or even afraid to go to the loo. When they do decide to head out, this could cause a missed appointment.
That’s where automated communications come in.
With the right technology, it’s possible to send tenants an automatic alert on the day of service, indicating the status of the appointment. Depending on your tenants’ needs, an SMS, email, push notification, or landline call might be the most appropriate channel for these alerts.
A further notification can be triggered when the technician is en route, along with an accurate ETA window. This frees up tenants to go about their daily lives, knowing exactly when they should prepare for their socially distant visit.
Day of service communications
It’s clear that automated notifications make the day of service easier. So why not take this a step further with ETA tracking and two-way communications?
By empowering tenants and operatives to communicate, you’ll significantly reduce no-access visits. Customers can share entry instructions, social distancing preferences and more - either via SMS or through a call to their assigned technician. Residents can also let the engineer know if they’ve just popped out, or if they’ll be slow to answer the door.
Rob Lane, Group Commercial Director at Clarion Housing, explains:
As we gradually reinstate our repairs service following the lockdown, Localz On My Way technology allows our customers to track their appointment & communicate directly with the operative to prepare for the visit and helps our operatives to set safe working expectations in advance of their arrival. We believe that this technology will give our customers an improved experience as we start to open up more routine appointments.”
Localz’ On My Way solution provides residents with all the information they need on the day of service. Automatic alerts direct the recipient to a customer portal, which includes a real-time tracking map and Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA). The tenant will also find intuitive options to contact the technician, based on the communication preferences you’ve made available.
Optimise service with real-time feedback
As your organisation undergoes big changes in service delivery, customer feedback is vital to ensure that everything is running smoothly. Monitoring tenant satisfaction doesn’t just give you an overall picture of your service team’s performance - it also allows you to deal with issues as they arise.
It’s a good idea to send the resident a geo-triggered feedback request as soon as the operative has left the property. This allows tenants to express themselves while the appointment is still top-of-mind, but without being swayed by the presence of the technician. It also avoids the operative having to pass a device or physical feedback form to the person.
Clarion Housing’s Rob Lane further explains:
At Clarion we are passionate about continuously improving customer experience. [...] We are already seeing great benefit from receiving real-time feedback from our customers and using this feedback to quickly enhance our service.”
A key benefit of Localz’ real-time feedback feature is automated back-office alerts when poor feedback is submitted. This allows your team to act promptly – and therefore at a lower cost – when problems arise.
The power of customer engagement
As field service teams return to work, and tenants open up their homes, it’s vital to instil confidence at every opportunity. Uncertainty on the day of service doesn’t just lead to low satisfaction - it directly causes operational inefficiencies through missed appointments and increased inbound calls.
By simply communicating with tenants, housing providers stand to improve customer experience and lower operational costs. That’s a powerful combination.
Find out more about Localz’ fields service solution for housing here: