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As Orlo’s Customer Success Manager for Housing, I’m passionate about automating the tedious, using data to drive change and bridging the gap between housing associations and tenants to deliver an amazing experience.

The big question that I’m hearing time and time again from the customers I look after is – how do we improve tenants’ ability to self-serve? Outside of the housing sector, self-service is at the core of our day-to-day digital lives and plays a huge role in how we consume products, services and solutions. As such, we expect that ability to be transferable across every element of our daily lives. Over 65% of people now have higher expectations for customer service than they had three years ago, so it’s no surprise that two-thirds now prefer to use digital customer service channels over traditional ones.

The challenge 💪

The housing sector is no exception. Yes, there may still be hurdles to overcome but with ever-stricter regulations on tenant engagement looming, housing associations have begun to utilise the power of AI to meet these expectations. Tenants expect to be able to source the right information, anytime, anywhere, but with varying degrees of digital adoption and know-how, as well as the means and online access – the outcome? An overwhelming pressure on phone lines and internal teams forced to repeat the answers to frequently asked questions time and time again.

Let’s start at the beginning… 📖

If we strip the role of a housing association’s first response agent down to what their core responsibilities are, it’s about providing a single source of truth and delivering the expected level of care for the tenant. When you consider this, coupled with shrinking budgets, increased costs and stretched resources, self-service is as much about agent well-being as it is about tenant welfare. Yes, self-service in the housing sector absolutely has its place in providing a seamless customer experience for tenants, but also has its part to play in protecting teams and budgets.

Putting it into practice ⚙️

Rest assured, adopting a self-service approach is still very much a tenant-first approach, just with team efficiencies to boot! Technologies such as Live Chat and Chatbots are easing the burden on agents and helping manage increased inbound demand by empowering tenants to self-serve 24/7. The result – queries can be solved quickly, at scale, and agents are freed up to handle interactions coming in via other channels or that may require a human touch.

From my conversations with those in the housing sector, there is consensus that approximately 80% of inbound contact is made up of FAQs around easily accessible resources, and the remaining 20% are serious scenarios that require a deeper level of care and understanding. When you see the figures laid bare like this, it’s a no-brainer that AI is your secret weapon in delivering seamless customer service for tenants alongside cost savings for your organisation

Top tips 🚀

Considering a switch to a self-service approach can be a daunting task so here are my 4 top tips when looking to introduce tools such as Live Chat and Chatbot:

  • Money talks, so being able to forecast spend – and most importantly showcase ROI – as a result of introducing technologies such as Live Chat and Chatbot is essential.
  • Get your FAQs in order. AI Chatbots are only as clever as the information you feed into them, so consider the questions your tenants ask time and time again and where you can easily signpost to your website to find out more.
  • Flexibility is essential – your tenants’ needs and requirements are ever-changing, so be ready to adapt your FAQs in reaction to emerging crises and situations so that you’re ready for any increase in demand.
  • Set-up should take minutes not months! Here at Orlo, we work with you to facilitate a seamless integration from the start and are constantly working with our customers to improve our products, based on their ever-changing needs and feedback.

For those in the housing sector and beyond, introducing AI into your customer service offering may seem daunting, but done well, a tenant-first approach that provides seamless self-service touch points along their digital journey will, in turn, drive internal efficiencies and cost to serve down. What’s not to love?

Rosie has 8 years of experience in the world of digital marketing and social media in both B2B and B2C. Passionate about automating the tedious and using data to drive change and deliver on KPIs, it's Rosie's goal to make sure all of her clients understand the power of social and how Orlo can be the driver of change.