How housing associations can overcome digital challenges


n a sector where the demand far outpaces supply, and as the cost of living continues to rise in the UK, housing associations are under

increasing pressure to deliver affordable housing. Spindogs addresses the challenges faced by

housing associations and discusses the opportunities offered by digital. Technological capabilities and tenant

expectations are rapidly changing, placing even greater pressures on housing associations. Increased demands create an increased need to invest in new technologies to better service users. When housing associations get digital ‘right’ they have been able to achieve:

• more efficient service delivery • a better, more convenient tenant experience • increased job satisfaction for staff • savings that can demonstrate value for money

MAKING THE DIGITAL SHIFT The digital shift is not only about building a new website, but improving internal operations; creating more effective communication channels with tenants and driving efficiency through closer operational relationships with suppliers and facilities management teams. Housing associations are often experiencing shared challenges of:

• Slow moving IT systems • Lack of understanding on the right solutions that will resonate with tenants

• Fear of failure: will the investment deliver expected results?

• Will new functionality stand the test of time? • How can digital uptake amongst internal teams be encouraged after the project is completed?

BEFORE GETTING STARTED WITH DIGITAL There are six key questions to ask your Board to formulate a digital strategy:

1. What will it take to meet our customers’ expectations in a digital world?

2. Do our business plans reflect the full potential of technology to improve our performance?

3. Is our portfolio of technology investments aligned with opportunities and threats?

4. Do we have the capabilities required to deliver value from the technologies?

5. Who is accountable for digital and how do we hold them to account?

6. Are we comfortable with our level of digital risk?

KEYS AREAS OF TECH TO TRANSFORM HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS New technology is transforming the way housing associations operate:

AUTOMATION • Offers the ability to free up staff to take on more meaningful roles

• Can reduce the amount of paperwork and manual processes required

• Staff more available to provide more support to tenants and the business

• Moving transaction processes online offers significant cost savings - online payments are 20 times cheaper than phone transactions and 50 times cheaper than face-to-face

DATA ANALYSIS & RECORD KEEPING – KEEPING ALL CUSTOMER DATA AND RECORDS ONLINE • Provides greater security for keeping online records safe and secure

• Excellent opportunity for better data analysis and upkeep

• Better access to edit as required for up-to-date, easy to manage information

BETTER CONNECTED: WITH DEVICES AND SMART METRES • Better identifies how people are using their accommodation

• Allows providers to alter services, such as heating, in real-time

• Repairs or replacements can be commissioned quicker to minimise costs and disruption

IMPROVED CUSTOMER SERVICE • Help and advice can be made available 24 hours a day, seven days a week with the help of a

50 | HMM June/July 2021 |

knowledge portal and accessible online account information

• Completing actions online means customers have no restrictions on when they can resolve their issues or speak with the correct department

• In turn this delivers considerable reputational benefits, impacting positively and directly on brand experience

• Communication channels between housing associations and tenants become far more easily accessible

A REMOTE WORKFORCE • Cloud technologies allow housing association teams to work remotely

• Reduces the need for multiple physical office locations

• Allows staff to be more connected with those that need help the most

• Less time spent on mundane transactions • More focus can be made on enabling the organisation to become more human with greater face-to-face interactions

If you want to know more on how digital can transform your business, take a look at our free courses, with everything from how to create a brand with impact, which CMS you should choose and how to create a powerful digital marketing strategy to our dedicated Housing association content.

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