There may have always been a need to better engage and support customers in housing, but this has been heightened by a rapid increase in digital transformation. Here are some of the main areas affected.

Customer journey

This can be quite a web of interactions between the customer and an association’s different departments. It can be hard to map out and understand where all the touch points are and how to best communicate at each point. If done successfully, it can really powerfully inform work.

Once mapped, video plays an important role in engagement, from a new tenancy agreement right through to leaving a property. For example, film or animation can quickly explain roles and responsibilities and how to report repairs or problems with issues like antisocial behaviour. It can also cover off things like building safety and even simply convey sometimes complicated issues like Right to Buy. The list really is endless.

Customer portals

Major influencers such as Amazon, streaming services, smart phones and other consumer products and companies that customers interact with in their day-to-day environment have shifted today’s consumer expectations and standards. This places greater expectations on quick and often instantaneous response times and easy, convenient access to products and services. These expectations translate into customers’ expectations of the housing sector. Many housing associations are adopting solutions for their customers to check their rent balance, make a payment or report a repair online at their convenience, but there can be varying successes with achieving positive uptake.

A common obstacle is that  few customers know they exist or don’t have the know how to use them.

Film and animation can be used effectively here to thoroughly promote the fact that they exist or creating a series of features to walk customers through the site, chaptering them so they can click on bite-sized topics relevant to them.

This certainly was the case for Thrive Homes as Leah Thompson, marketing communications business partner explained:

“We needed a way to show customers real-life common scenarios and how key benefits of our customer hub can help with managing their Thrive account. There’s no easier way to get this across than in video and we’re really pleased with the result!”

Thrive Homes aims to build trusted, open relationships with its customers, with expectations clearly laid out from both sides of the customer-landlord relationship. These strong relationships are driven by clear communications, with Thrive making sure to map customers’ journeys to ensure they are able to connect at a myriad of touchpoints, understand their experiences and motivations, and address any issues or burdensome processes.

As part of this communication loop, Thrive creates a Customer Experience Panel and creates additional opportunities for customers to provide feedback, have their voices heard and shape the services that impact them. All of which is influenced by the power of video.

Supporting customers

It’s all well and good having lots of digital platforms but with a digital communications revolution there is increased danger of widening digital inequality with many people not having the necessary skills or access to broadband or technology.

Housing associations frequently offer support for this, including one-to-one advice. Face-to-face is great but it can be resource heavy and time consuming. Imagine how many more people could be reached with easy-to-understand animations or explainer videos which provide training when colleagues cannot be there.

It is widely recognised that during a global emergency, the people hit hardest are those that are having a tough time already, and this includes people in social housing.

Videos can be used to support and signpost too including for mental health, well-being and financial support.

For example, at a time of massive uncertainty caused by Coronavirus, PA Housing is using a powerful video to help reach out to customers who needed extra support.

This TV advert-style film promotes how customers financially affected by the pandemic can contact the housing association’s Tenancy Sustainment team.

Thousands of people watched the video within days of its release with reviews like this:

“Wow! I’ve never watched a video that demonstrates the work UK housing does better than this.”

PA Housing was also delighted with the results. Tenancy sustainment manager Ian Clutton said:

“The final product has really blown us away and the feedback that we are getting from customers and from the housing sector is fantastic.”

You can read more about our work with PA here.

Training/how to videos

As part of the self help/self serve agenda, these videos are becoming increasingly popular. Touching on both auditory and visual senses, videos are a fantastic medium to produce effective and compelling how-to tutorials and more.

Did you know, 65% of people use YouTube to help them solve a problem. From renovating their bathroom, unblocking a sink to getting a splinter out of their hand, they are searching for video content to help. Sharing bits of knowledge or information goes a long way in building trust and means they are less likely to call for help to complete a simple task from home.

We have all seen these types of videos. Some like them professionally shot others do something basic on their mobile phone. There is a balance to be struck between being authentic but being engaging, visually appealing and most importantly of all audible.

Click on the links below to read blogs linked with this focus on digital transformation in housing:

  1. How can housing capitalise on the huge growth of digital communications?
  2. How to better engage with customer colleagues and stakeholders
  3. Showcasing developments during the housing crisis
Visit our housing webpage for more examples of our work

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