Description The options availble for organisations looking to enhance their existing customer portal.
Published 6th May 2022
Read time 5 minutes
News Flash: Complete replacement of your customer portal is not the only way to improve resident adoption and performance.
As a specialist social housing portal supplier you may think we have gone a little mad with this statement. But it’s no belated April fools. You may not know this, but we at Active Housing actually help many social landlords improve their existing offerings through our consultancy services and our integrated SaaS modules.
Don’t get us wrong, if your portal is underperforming, resulting in poor ROI and negative customer sentiment, replacement should be strongly considered. But it’s not always a viable option, particularly in the short-term, due to financial constraints, resource issues, upcoming mergers, or other operational challenges. Looking at what you have already, and improving certain key services can have a big impact for both your organisation and your customers. It can also deliver quick wins at a fraction of the cost of a new portal.
Where to start? Repairs?
It’s no secret that repairs reporting and appointment management are critical transactional services in a social housing customer portal. Repairs is the service most frequently requested by customers, accounting for up to 70% of inbound calls. But it’s also a challenge, with organisations across the sector seeing an increase in repairs requests at the same time as they suffer rising costs and a shortage in workforce and materials.
Online repairs services are a big pull in terms of customers registering for an online account with their landlord. Data shows that a good online repairs offering has a direct impact on the use of other transactional services in a housing portal, such as making payments, Direct Debit sign ups, and statement downloads.
At Active Housing we provide the sector’s most feature rich end-to-end online diagnostics tool (including self appointing), Active Diagnostics. We also offer a number of optional modules which can be seamlessly integrated into your existing portal and back office systems (e.g. HMS, Scheduler, etc.) with no, or minimal involvement from your existing portal provider.
This means that in as little as a month your current portal could offer:
Comprehensive repairs diagnostics
Self-fix information and videos
Temporary measure and H&S information
Muti-repair booking with time saving appointment grouping
Appointment self-selection integrating with a scheduling system
Appointment tracking with cancel and reschedule facility
Appointment reminders with amendment options
What else can we do?
Repairs is not the only area of a portal that can be improved through 3rd party assistance. Here are a few examples of other ways you could look to improve your current portal.
Ensuring your portal is accessible is essential not only for adoption but also to meet regulations. There are many free online tools and suppliers that can assess your portal and sometimes simple changes such as colour contrasts and font sizes can make a big difference.
There are also a number of specialist accessibility tools such as Browsealoud (now called Reachdeck) and ReciteMe that can easily be implemented on your portal, enabling functionality such as direct translation and read aloud, and where users already have such tools installed on their device or browser, it’s important that your portal supports them.
Many organisations utilise payment gateway providers, such as Pay360 and Allpay, as part of a portal offering. A payment gateway which takes a customer away from the portal to a separate browser tab or window is not an optimal user experience and can cause users to worry about the legitimacy of the gateway.
A better option is to look for payment providers that offer an API or Embeddable option. This will allow customers to make payments without leaving the portal, providing a much better user experience.
It’s also worth ensuring that the payment provider offers additional functionality like storing card details to make repeat payments as easy as possible for customers.
Applications / Pre-tenancy
We often talk about digital self-service in the context of existing customers transacting online. However, there is a big opportunity to digitise the pre-tenancy process to make efficiency savings, simplify the process for potential customers, and ensure all new customers are digital from day one.
In an ideal world a portal should handle both pre-tenancy and existing customer accounts. But where that’s not possible, there is an opportunity to use specialist providers or products to just handle pre-tenancy self-service. This could range from advertising properties and CBL property offers, to application forms and digital signing of the tenancy agreements.
To arrange a demonstration of the Active Housing product suite, and how it can help you get more out of your existing product, do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.