As we enter 2021, home has never been more important. In the last twelve months, many residents have endured health worries, financial uncertainty, and social distancing. Despite the challenges, housing associations have continued to adapt and innovate to provide a safer, more convenient experience for their residents.
Looking ahead, a focus on proactive repairs and maintenance, efficiency savings, and contractor relationships will continue, while new technologies will help landlords to meet rising customer expectations for transparency and openness. Here’s how we see these trends panning out over the year to come.
Housing associations will take a proactive approach to repairs and maintenance – Landlords will continue to investigate and implement sensors, IoT, and AI to allow for predictive maintenance. This will enable housing associations to move from a reactive to a proactive approach to repairs. Providers will need to explore new processes for scheduling jobs and communicating with residents when work is due – given the job will be prompted by ‘the system’ rather than by customer request.
Landlords will look for efficiency savings – One impact of COVID-19 has been to slow down build-to-sell activity. The result will be an impact on landlords’ balance sheets, as a key revenue stream will have diminished. Landlords will therefore increase their focus on streamlining operational processes and seeking efficiency savings to offset reduced revenues.
Customer expectations will continue to rise – Residents don’t benchmark RSLs against one another. Rather, they expect landlords to deliver the same level of service they receive from Amazon, DPD, or their bank. In the wake of the health crisis, digital communication and contactless options have become the norm. It will therefore be crucial to provide real-time visibility and communications around repair appointments.
Housing associations will demand more from their contractors – Repairs contractors have already seen an increasing number of landlords explicitly demanding a consumer-like experience for their customers. The global pandemic has accelerated this shift, as tenants require increased reassurance and communication around appointments. As a result, repairs contracts will demand measures such as automated customer notifications and live ETA tracking.
Housing associations will need to show they are listening – The Regulator for Social Housing will increase the focus on measuring landlords according to customer satisfaction. Housing providers will need to gather feedback, measure satisfaction, and demonstrate that they are learning from customer sentiments. Landlords and contractors will therefore look to add effective feedback solutions to their toolkits. When it comes to repairs, real-time feedback and negative feedback alerts will show that landlords are listening to – and acting upon – the customer voice.
In recent years, forward-thinking landlords have already begun to benchmark their customer experience against the private/commercial sector, and to embrace the mutual benefits of digital transformation and multi-channel communications. In essence, they have striven to match the best experiences enjoyed by residents in other areas of their daily lives, aiming to be ‘easy to do business with’. Whatever 2021 brings our way, these trends are sure to continue.
By Paul Swannell, Sales Director at Localz