Ever since the start of this year when the world as we knew it changed forever, many hurdles and differing priorities on respective sides have come between our customers and their residents. Whilst tenants’ needs for support from their housing providers have now increased, the capabilities of housing providers to provide those services, in the same way, has decreased.
However, there is little doubt that innovative thinking and extraordinary effort from housing providers going forward will not go unrewarded. Reconnecting with your tenants with thoughtful and considerate planning will go a long way to reassure residents after some very difficult months. It does however represent a challenge of striking the correct balance between providing great support to tenants and not overwhelming them or jeopardising your own business operations at this unpredictable time.
What will residents be hoping for?
From my own experience talking with residents every day since March of this year, I have experienced the feelings of anxiety, fear and loneliness amongst many of them. Whilst there is a need to tread carefully with tenants as we find new normality in the shape of digital communication rather than in-person communication, there will also be those who are keen to communicate and reflect on the last few months. Owing to the limitations and strains placed upon the local housing providers and contractors in recent months, there is also the likelihood that residents will be wanting to report heating system faults and other property-related issues. It is therefore essential that our customers make communication channels for their tenants easy and time-efficient.
What are the benefits for the housing provider?
Housing providers like any other business can only improve from receiving and engaging with customer feedback on the service they have provided. With continued uncertainty as we approach the winter months and the chance of many tenants being home remaining high, this is the opportune moment to be proactive. This will help housing providers to understand what has worked with their support of tenants this past six months and where there is room for improvement. This is important especially for those residents who may have had to shield these past few months or who in general have lacked social contact. It is important they feel heard and feel that they can have their say on what they have received in the key areas of customer care. This includes the housing provider’s responsiveness and transparency during times of lockdown and restrictions.
What are the benefits for the properties of the housing provider?
This is also a crucial time of year for proactive improvement in processes at housing providers as we are on the cusp of another heating season. This means it is the best opportunity to address any outstanding concerns from tenants and to undertake any work now that can help to reduce engineer call-outs in the colder winter months. Switchee’s ability to remotely test boiler performance through the thermostat, for example, preemptively finds any potential issues. Issues that could be rectified now at a lower cost rather than in a few months at the peak of heating season busyness for local contractors. Another side effect of more tenants being at home is that they are also interacting more with their property and their heating system. Resident engagement and a housing provider’s ability to advise them on setting up schedules for heating and hot water control in the winter is a catalyst to lower energy use in homes and a reduction in tenants’ energy bills. This will be of much higher importance this year after a difficult 2020 in the UK economy.
How housing providers can reconnect with their tenants using Switchee
With the objectives of understanding residents’ concerns this winter, finding out how support of them can be improved and assisting them with efficient use of their heating system, our customers can use multi-page messaging on the Switchee thermostat to provide quick and easy-to-respond to surveys for their tenants. With a 90% response rate and a ten-page framework for asking tenants multi-choice questions, this allows our customers to reconnect with their tenants in an approach that bypasses the manual and exhaustive elements of traditional approaches such as letter writing, phone calls and email. Switchee can help to reconnect housing providers to their tenants in a structured and considerate manner to ensure neither sacrifice too much of their own time. A better understanding of their tenants’ concerns and how they can support tenants even better in the upcoming winter will only improve them as a housing provider.