Wolverhampton Homes - Self-Service case study
5 September 2016
Putting the customer first
By providing a wide range of self-service options and using an innovative approach to get people to sign up, Wolverhampton Homes is finding new and better ways to support customers across its 23,000 homes.
Guided by their their vision of unlocking people's potential through housing, skills and technology, Wolverhampton Homes has set an ambitious target of getting 50% of residents signed up to self-service by April 2017.
They chose a range of self-service tools from Northgate Public Services and launched a new approach that promotes the wider benefits of going online and enables staff to provide support at every stage.
A range of customer facing processes, from rent payments to property searches, can now be managed by residents themselves, and providing mobile access to the core housing system helps staff to provide back-office functions.
Unlocking tenants' potential
Wolverhampton Homes was established as an Arms Length Management Organisation in 2005 and now manages over 23,000 homes across the city. Their vision is 'unlocking people's potential through housing, skills and technology', so they set out to understand how digital services could support their aim.
After extensive consultation with customers and pilot programmes that provided free connectivity to homes, they realised that increasing the take-up of online services required a different approach.
"Many of our customers are not online at all, and some may never be, so we wanted to find the best way to help them get on in life. By working with local partners to promote other reasons to go online, from retail discounts and social networks, we can help our residents to access much broader benefits as well get a faster response to housing queries. Our 'Digital First' programme runs through the whole organisation. It not only encourages people to go online, it also equips staff with the tools they need to work more productively and to support residents at every point of contact.
"We basically don't want our customers to miss out on the benefits of being online. To back this up, the digital outreach team are helping tenants who aren't online through community events and face to face contact. From setting up in shopping centres and community centres to calling door to door, the team are showing tenants what they'll miss out on by not being online and then helping them with advice on devices plus training to use them."
Philip Toni, Director of Resources
Breaking down the barriers
Wolverhampton Homes manages a number of 'one stop shops' where residents can get advice from staff, ask questions or pay rent. From November 2015, they are changing from the traditional model, with staff behind a counter, to digital hubs with self-service kiosks and floor walkers with tablets – all using software from Northgate Public Services.
Head of ICT Business Support, Eamonn McGirr, explains the benefits:
“The self-service software provided by Northgate Public Services covers a very wide range of areas, meaning we can give people lots of options for engaging with us differently. It also supports a better working environment for staff, allowing them to move around and talk on an equal basis with customers.”
By enabling greater mobile working, Wolverhampton Homes is also helping to improve how other staff engage with residents. Eamonn continues:
“We have provided staff with tablet PCs which allow them to access the NPS Housing solution on the move. By training them in how self-service works, they can also use those tablets to help customers who need extra encouragement or support.”
As well as aiming to get 50% of residents signed up for self service by April 2017, they are also aiming to reduce the number of general enquiries received face to face or over the phone by 50% and will soon roll out greater use of SMS services.
“We have set some ambitious customer service targets for 2017,” says Philip, “but by taking the right approach for our customers and working closely with Northgate Public Services to deliver them, I'm confident that we will achieve our goals.”