Thrive Homes is a UK housing association that owns and manages over 5000 properties throughout Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, and Oxfordshire. Their mission is to provide accessible, affordable housing to those that need it in one of the most expensive parts of the country.
Prior to working with Active Housing, Thrive had a customer app which had been developed by another third party supplier. The app had received mixed reviews from customers, so Thrive’s goal with their new portal was to create something that their customers would love. This meant creating a portal that was user friendly with a vast functionality, to ensure they could deliver true self service that was easy to use and allowed their customers flexibility to report repairs at a time that suits their needs.
The social housing organisation adopted multiple products from the Active Housing suite, including:
Active Portal - The feature rich customer portal designed to help tenants manage all aspects of their tenancy.
Active Diagnostics - Active Housing’s award-winning software as a service (SaaS) product range allowing staff and tenants to report property problems and manage repair and maintenance appointments.
Active Requests - An easy-to-use tool that allows tenants to request permissions, perform eligibility checks, and to ask for information about their tenancy.
Thrive’s main goal was to create a digital offering that was user friendly. This meant user testing was a priority for them.Thrive invited a diverse group of their tenants with varying skills to test the product prototypes and give feedback, which informed changes to the portal designs before the start of development.
An Agile style of project management was used to manage the launch. Weekly stand ups took place via Skype, where Active Housing and Thrive project teams discussed their tasks and the project progress, as well as keeping in contact via email. In the project’s pre launch phase standups were more frequent and took place over Microsoft Teams.
Active Housing integrated with Aereon QL to provide end-to-end transactional services for Thrive customers. Active Housing created workflow definitions to meet Thrive’s requirements for the project, which Aareon used to develop APIs.
A significant challenge was being thrust into a nationwide lockdown mid way through the project. Previously, important meetings between Thrive, Aareon and Active Housing took place on-site. However, during lockdown, this had to shift to using Skype and Microsoft Teams, at the same time that businesses were adapting to remote working. Although this was an adjustment, the teams adapted quickly and still managed to deliver the project successfully.
Thrive chose to use three of the products from the Active Housing suite to give their customers the full self service experience. They used the Active Portal, as well as Active Diagnostics and Active Requests. This gave Thrive customers the following features:
Register and login
Select and manage privacy settings
Manage multiple tenancies from one account
View account balance and statements
View and update tenancy and household information
View and update personal and contact information
Make a payment (including guest payments)
Diagnose a repair and select an appointment
Track upcoming repairs with the ability to cancel and reschedule
Review completed repairs and provide feedback
Request permissions (e.g. pets) with instant outcomes
Review permission request
It also allowed Thrive staff members to benefit from the following:
Manage registered users
Add, edit and manage on page content
Add, edit and manage repairs diagnostics scripts
Manage repairs reporting logic and business rules
Add, edit and manage permission request scripts
Set global and page notifications
Another unique feature of Thrive’s integration was embedding the Active Diagnostics tool to their website. Thrive wanted to give their customers a taste of what it would be like to report a repair through the new portal, even before they had signed up. They did this by embedding a version of the Active Diagnostics tool to their website, which allows the customer to go through the repairs process up until booking an appointment. Before they reached this stage, they were prompted to log in to continue. This is still in place and is intended to encourage more customers to sign up to the portal by giving them a glimpse of it’s capabilities.
A week before Thrive launched their portal, they had it beta tested by a group of their tenants. The feedback that was extremely positive and included the following:
“A great portal so far, I think most tenants will find it easy to use”
“Really helpful and easy to use and a very simple sign up process”
“Saves phone calls”
“It is a good tool and will be useful in finding information rather than requesting it from Thrive’s offices”
“I like it. It’s nice that it’s clear and well laid out. It also links very well to the other Thrive website pages.”
“Easy to use, better than the Thrive App!”
1500 sign ups
After launch, Thrive gave themselves an ambitious goal of achieving 1500 new sign ups by 31st March 2021. Thrive exceeded their goal with 1560 registered users by the end of March.
Overall, this was a successful project for both organisations. The fact that Thrive were able to launch with three of the Active Housing products in Phase 1 of the project is a testament to their hard work and dedication to their customers. Active Housing are looking forward to continuing their relationship with the organisation and are looking forward to seeing the effects that digital channel shift is going to have on Thrive as an organisation.