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Driving the Digital Agenda

Tina Kennedy, Head of Digital, Aareon UK discusses the need to be ready to continually adapt to reconstruct the way we live and work in these current times.

In recent times, we have seen such rapid need for change, to adapt to a world of lockdown and social distancing. With uncertainty about the future, we need to be ready to continually adapt to reconstruct the way we live and work. To ensure we can work remotely, servicing our customers in a contactless way and support our communities in these unprecedented times.

The Need for Change has accelerated

We have all had to adapt to being able to work remotely over the last few months, but what about the future reality of the virtual office? Google have announced that they have no plans to return to the office until July 2021 at the earliest. How can you continue to support your people, your contractors and your tenants in a world where there is no physical office?  The simple fact is this will drive a need for faster, cheaper, more dynamic digitization of processes. The need to manage tenants and contractors and buildings from a remote environment is critical. Providing access to services for tenants without pushing up contact centre costs; managing the work lists for contractors without being able to provide a physical list of jobs and properties. Allowing tenants and contractors to access this information via apps and portals to enable self-service and seamless integration into your ERP, means significantly less admin tasks and much more time to support customers who cannot self-serve.

Tenant expectation of digital services

Your customers will continue to expect more from you too. They are already wanting to access services 24/7, and across a choice of methods.  The aim should be to provide services in as cost-effective way as possible, being able to reduce the amount of people focused on administration and increase the amount of people focused on front line services, specifically to support the vulnerable. One of your key financial KPIs should be to reduce rent collection and arrears – with payment via app or portal, plus the ability to agree a financial payment plan to suit them. These digital tools will help you to deliver your KPIs.

Digital solutions support tenants and communities

Tenants will also want you to recognise their individual needs and provide flexibility around appointments – scheduling their own to suit their availability is definitely their preference. Digital communities will become more and more important to enable rapid and effective communication with your tenant community, but the advancement of technology means these communities can now be integrated into your back-end ERP to drive outcomes such as reporting an issue in the communal area. This can trigger a chain of events including assigning a work task, approving a budget and a contractor completing the work and invoicing, all without any need for the process to have any human intervention. Digital solutions can also be used to support people to be able to live independently, so increasing their satisfaction whilst reducing the strain on the housing association to provide more hands-on support for these individuals.

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