Social housing contact centres are in danger of becoming a victim of their own success. In just a few years, they have evolved from an innovative extra to an integral part of the housing provider’s operations, providing a respected and responsive service to residents through a single point of contact. Resident expectations have risen accordingly and the contact centre is now their first port of call for all kinds of queries.
Each and every housing organisation is faced with similar, if slightly different issues, but each one runs their services somewhat differently. With so many housing organisations now merging and amalgamating to take advantage of economies of scale, a major issue they face is the loss of individual identity and even of local knowledge of the issues of the area. This can, and typically does, cause real apprehension for all involved – residents, staff, managers and board members.
The maddening drip, drip, drip of a leaky tap. Sitting in the dark, unable to even make a cup of tea, after a power surge or blown fuse. Curling up under a duvet on the sofa, because the heating doesn’t come on till later and the flat is icy cold.
There is an on-going debate about Channel Shift and Self-Service in relation to customer services in the public sector, especially in social housing. The pros state that it improves residents’ accessibility to service, at the same time as dramatically reducing the cost per transaction. The cons argue that it excludes residents and leads to far greater demand and an increase in mistakes.