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Public Sector
2 min read

How housing associations can leverage technology to enhance their repair processes.

Simon Wilkinson
Head of Public Sector
housing associations technology

UK Housing Associations are battling rising costs, static revenues and increasing staff turnover. Meanwhile, tenants are faced with prolonged wait times for repairs and services, resulting in a noticeable decrease in overall satisfaction. 

In the face of such turbulence, it is essential Social Housing providers rethink traditional business processes to improve staff and tenant experiences, reduce the time and cost associated with repairs, and meet standards set out by the Regulator for Social Housing. 

The current state of repair services  

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, Housemark reports a one-third increase in repair completion times, strongly correlating with a decline in tenant satisfaction levels. Additionally, 15% of tenants have reported that their repair requests have gone unanswered. 

The typical repair process involves a tenant reporting an issue to the contact centre, which then schedules a visit by a field operative. However, for non-urgent repairs, it can take up to four weeks before a field operative attends the tenant’s home. Unfortunately, not having ‘eyes in the home’ before the first visit often results in field operatives not having the necessary parts to fix the problem, necessitating a second visit. This not only results in an unsatisfactory tenant experience but also inflates costs for the Housing Association, escalating from approximately £50/£75 to £100/£150. 

Statutory Safety Checks 
Many Housing Associations are still using letters to arrange annual safety checks, which require the tenant to call the contact centre to arrange a time and date for a field operative to visit the tenant’s home. This traditional process is not only costly but also prone to errors and no-access visits, as there is no digital mechanism to change or cancel a visit.  

Navigating the TSMs  
The recently introduced Tenant Satisfaction Measures (TSMs) are heavily focused on homes that are safe and well maintained, with specific perception questions relating to satisfaction with the length of time taken to complete and the quality of the most recent repair. In addition, Housing Associations have to report on gas, fire and other statutory safety checks, indicating an easier and more streamlined process for amending these visits will help drive compliance levels.  

Utilise technology to reduce repair waiting times and cost 

Technology is by no means a silver bullet, but modern cloud-based Contact Centre platforms can significantly help increase efficiency, reduce repair times, optimise costs, and enhance tenant satisfaction.  

As ranked by respected industry analysts Frost & Sullivan, Puzzel’s European leading Contact Centre platform can support housing providers in several ways, including:  

  • Get ‘eyes inside the home’ with Live Video 
    Puzzel Live Video, integrated into Puzzel’s Omnichannel Contact Centre solution, enables agents to seamlessly shift from voice calls to video, enabling housing providers to visually assess the severity, urgency, and complexity of the problem through the tenant’s smartphone camera, before sending a field operative. If the problem cannot be resolved remotely, images can be shared with a field operative, enabling them to bring the right parts to fix the issue. This increases first-home-visit success rates, reduces the time and cost of repairs, and results in improved tenant satisfaction and trust. 
  • Empower customer service agents with a knowledgebase 
    When tenants report a repair, a contact centre agent usually collects specific information about the tenant and the problem. Customer service agents are extremely knowledgeable, but they are not trained engineers, plumbers or field operatives.  

    Puzzel's Knowledgebase with predictive AI helps contact centre agents resolve enquiries at the first contact, by providing access to a comprehensive library of articles, documents, images, and links that can help them answer common questions, troubleshoot issues, and provide guidance to tenants. This results in repair enquiries being handled more effectively and confidently, with relevant and up-to-date information. 
  • Streamline safety check bookings and reduce no-access visits with automated SMS
    Open APIs and strategic partnerships allow Puzzel's Contact Centre to integrate with other systems such as Housing Management Systems, Booking and Scheduling systems and more. Automated outbound SMS messages can be triggered via APIs, allowing safety check reminders to be automatically sent to tenants, and enabling tenants to respond and arrange the date and time via SMS. This reduces the cost of physical post, allows the tenant to quickly arrange and rearrange safety visits at their convenience, and reduces the number of no-access visits and the associated costs. 

Our homes are more than just four walls; they represent safety, security, and sanctuary, and so repairs go beyond simply fixing what is broken; they are restoring trust and comfort.  

Puzzel’s software is helping housing providers modernise their service delivery, with live video, knowledgebase and automated SMS being just some examples of how technology can significantly improve the repair process 

By embracing these innovations and taking a more tenant-centric approach through technology, housing associations can not only meet TSM standards through improved tenant satisfaction but can also reduce waiting times and costs, which can be used to help address other challenges such as retrofitting legacy housing stock and building new homes to address the UK’s housing crisis. 

Let’s connect! 

If this article resonates with your current situation, I am here to help. Feel free to reach out for a tailored demo or connect with me on LinkedIn. 

Author: Simon Wilkinson  
Head of Public Sector 

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