Housing repairs - keeping up with the Joneses (or Amazon, Uber, DPD…)

Applying consumer-style customer experiences to repair services in the housing sector not only benefits tenants, but also improves overall operational efficiency and saves costs.

In the last year I’ve increasingly heard housing associations and repairs contractors recognising that customer expectations have shifted, and that they need to change to keep up. 

Some providers have an explicitly stated goal to “provide an experience like DPD or Uber” when carrying out services. By extension, this requirement is making its way into repair and maintenance contracts.

The global pandemic has accelerated these changes, as tenants require increased reassurance and communication around appointments.

But providing a consumer-like experience doesn’t just increase customer satisfaction. By “Uberizing” housing services, providers can expect significant efficiency savings. 

Here we’ll dive into the benefits of an Uber-like experience, and how you can apply this approach to housing appointments. 

 

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The “Uberization” paradox

We’re a tech savvy nation and are accustomed to instant updates from connected services like Uber, Amazon Prime and Deliveroo. The expectation for ‘everything now’ has become the standard - and consumers are benchmarking customer experiences from every sector against one another. 

This radical age of “uberization” means that housing executives increasingly see the need to keep up with consumer expectations that are being shaped by other sectors.

Each of us expects service providers to have apps and solutions which allow us to see our appointment progress in real-time. Transparency and two-way communications on our smartphones are now a standard expectation. The transparency provided by the likes of Uber, DPD, and Amazon increasingly leads consumers to expect the same from all service providers they engage with. 

Not only do consumers want visibility and transparency, but they also want control. The boom in “self-service” is becoming part of consumers’ everyday lives. From self-checkout at the supermarket to mobile banking, consumers enjoy being free from long call centre queues and having control over their own lives. 

Housing providers can take advantage of the latest technology to provide Uber-style self-service, real-time operative tracking, super accurate ETAs, and two-way communications during repair and maintenance appointments.  This tech doesn’t only improve tenant satisfaction - it also makes technicians’ lives easier while producing significant operational savings for RSLs.

 

With an industry average of 15% no-access failed appointments and each failed appointment costing £60-£75, it is business critical for landlords and contractors to reduce the time wasted and costs incurred associated with these failed appointments to improve services for social housing customers. Our partnership with Localz will help our clients achieve this objective”

Ian Stewart, Commercial Sales Manager for Castleton Plc. 

 

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How to provide a consumer-like experience

Working with our clients and partners in the housing space, we’ve narrowed down five steps you can take to enhance the day-of-service experience. 

 

1. Be digitally available

Be available on a variety of platforms and ensure you are reviewing them on a regular basis. For important information, reach tenants on the channels they use regularly - such as SMS - and provide a range of options for tenants to get in touch.

2. Inform and reassure

Research shows 65% of consumers say viewing their service provider’s ETA is the most important feature on the day of service. This is particularly important in the housing sector where the length of appointment windows varies greatly. Use a “shrinking ETA window” to communicate what you know, and update tenants when you know more.

 

3. Empower customers & operatives

Enabling two-way communication directly between the customer and operative removes friction, enabling important information to be passed between them with no need to join the call centre queue.  It also supports better first-time access.

 

4. Back-office transparency

As well as providing customers with progress transparency, provide the same real-time insight for your colleagues. This dramatically speeds the process of answering customers who still call to query an ETA, as well as supporting resource allocation decisions.

 

5. Listen and encourage feedback

Asking consumers to “rate” and provide feedback on the service leads to consumers feeling important, cared for and, if you respond accordingly, listened to.  It’s no surprise it’s also essential for learning and improving your service.

 

 

Benefits of increased communication

By applying the above principles, a rare win-win-win can be achieved for all parties involved:

Landlords and contractors make cost savings from better first time access, fewer inbound calls and rapid query resolution. They also enjoy a great PR opportunity.

Customers are delighted by total service transparency and the ability to communicate directly with assigned operatives. It frees up their time and reduces anxiety.

Operatives find it makes their job easier and more productive and they relax when they are reassured they can’t be tracked and contacted by customers night and day. Technicians also find they are dealing with happier customers who haven’t been kept ‘in the dark’ all afternoon.

 

Getting started

The expectation for consumer-style, frictionless service is there in the housing sector. Is your technology ready for it? 

Download the free guide to crafting your day-of-service communication journey.

 

Download guide to tenant experience and reduced operational costs