Blog post - Avoid a winter of discontent… How will you manage a surge in maintenance requests?
Avoid a winter of discontent… How will you manage a surge in maintenance requests?
Description Stephen Samosa explains the importance of implementing digital repairs systems, improving first-time fix rates, enabling tenants & landlords to set & reschedule appointments, and preventative portal maintenance.
Published 11th January 2022
Author Stephen Samosa
Read time 3 minutes
You don’t need me to remind you how busy housing maintenance teams get during winter. You’re probably already feeling the pinch as the cold and wet weather always seems to provoke a flurry of failures.
Add to the mix the current concerns around protecting vulnerable tenants from any unnecessary exposure to COVID, and a workforce and supply chain impacted by the double whammy of Brexit and pandemic, and the next few months are likely to be a challenge for all of us.
Time to wrest back control
While it’s true that many factors lie outside of a landlord’s control, it’s now more important than ever that where efficiencies can be made, they are identified and implemented quickly.
In our experience, customers are generally understanding when repairs are delayed for a good reason. However, that goodwill can quickly be eroded if their experience in reporting an issue, or receiving updates is poor.
This is amplified in an increasingly digital world: As other key services such as banking, and even GP appointments become digital first, tenants’ expectations of customer service are heightened. They expect to be able to manage how they report and stay informed of issues affecting their homes instantly via their PC or mobile, and any delay or inaccuracy in communication is immediately noticed.
For already overworked housing and maintenance teams, this can feel like yet another demand on their time. In fact, it represents a real opportunity to improve the customer experience at a stressful time for customers and introduce some efficiencies into maintenance workflows.
Prioritisation and self-service
Implementing a digital self-service repairs system enables your customers to provide precise details of their issue along with any additional relevant information (for example, images, videos, locations, access notes, etc). Where safe to do so, it is often possible to provide the customer with guidance on how to fix the issue themselves via step by step guides and explainer videos, or at least give a clear understanding of when and how the issue will be resolved.
From an administration point of view, this has the effect of removing minor issues, and the associated site visits, from the job schedule, freeing up resources for more complex, or higher priority issues.
Appointment selection & rescheduling
A common challenge for operatives is gaining access to properties to fix an issue. Not only does this lack of access impact the job at hand, but the delays incurred and the need to arrange a new visit will negatively impact other jobs on the worksheet.
Providing tenants with the capability to set and amend appointments directly from an online solution can dramatically reduce no-access visits, meaning quicker issue resolution and less time wasted by maintenance teams.
Improving first-time-fix rates
Nothing is more frustrating for tenants or staff than the maintenance team turning up on site without the right tools, parts or simply not enough time to resolve the issue. In most situations, the cause lies in a gap in the information provided to the contact centre before an operative goes on site.
With the right digital platforms, tenants can be guided through several pre-set questions designed to ensure any relevant information is collected clearly and consistently. It can ensure engineers have the right tools and parts for every job on their schedule at the start of every day with enough time for each appointment. That means more first-time fixes, more satisfied tenants, and less wasted time spent returning to the depot for parts.
Business information and preventative maintenance
One of the hidden benefits of managing repairs through a digital platform is what can be done behind the scenes with the data from all those service requests. By standardising the information requested from tenants and tracking metrics it becomes far easier for landlords to clearly demonstrate how they are performing against customers’ and regulators’ expectations.
At Active Housing, our Active Diagnostics platform provides social landlords, their contractors, and customers an easy-to-use tool for raising, tracking appointments and viewing outcomes of repairs requests. Whether integrated as part of a broader customer portal, or as a standalone solution, Active Diagnostics gives all parties greater visibility on the status of live requests, enabling them to track outcomes and monitor asset and property histories.
To understand more about Active Diagnostics can help you regain control of your planned and unplanned maintenance schedules, do get in touch with me directly at email@example.com, or call 0800 023 9024.