Stepping into 2019: our big goals for the year ahead
In my last blog I discussed our five-year strategy which sets out how we plan to reimagine housing by 2023.
We’re already moving into the second year of the strategy and we’ve been thinking about our big goals for 2019. Here’s a selection of our big-ticket items for the next 12 months:
Unsurprisingly a prominent theme throughout the strategy is technology – including improved digital services and technology built into people’s homes.
In terms of the latter, we plan to make a lot of headway with how we use smart technology. This will enable us to monitor the performance of buildings, helping us to predict when key components will fail and better plan for future maintenance work. More importantly though, it’ll make our customers’ lives easier as we’ll know a repair needs doing in their home before they do.
All of the 175 new homes we’re building next year will come with a smart package as standard but it’s important to us that current customers can benefit too.
We’ll be installing smart technology in homes as they become vacant and will also be working towards creating a 'smart estate' that we can use as a test bed, involving customers in shaping the technology we install.
A super self-serve
By the end of next year our aim is for 75% of customer interactions to be online (our five-year target being 90%). Currently we’ve peaked at 70% and we plan to increase this by making substantial improvements to the Help and Advice section of our website. We’ll be making the layout more user-friendly, increasing the searchability of answers and will continue to build up a library of useful content – based on the questions our customers ask most. We’re also making our repairs booking system more intuitive so that customers find it really easy to choose the right repair, first time – so no need to pick up the phone. And we’ll be expanding our suite of ‘how-to’ videos for common household repairs (loved by customers and employees alike!)
Driven by data
We’re increasingly looking at how we can use data to drive performance and more importantly, how employees can be in control of this.
We’ve recently introduced a couple of new systems that will help to do this and will be integrating them into our ways of working in 2019. One of these is Rent Sense, an online system that works alongside CRM to analyse our customers' transactional history, predicting who will and won't pay their rent so the rents team know who to contact and when.
We’ve also developed ‘Advisor dashboards’ that allow our customer service team to see performance information in real time, including a personal rating (Uber driver style) that is based on customer feedback about their individual performance. The team have been really receptive to this and we’ll continue to hone the information available to people to help them continuously improve the customer experience.
A digital toolkit
We’re really keen for our employees to see work as what they do not where they go. Next year, our first step in increasing flexibility is to make sure our employees have the right digital tools available to enable them to work in a more agile way. We’ve used Yammer for a number of years and it’s a great way to stay connected and collaborate – particularly for remote employees who can access it on their phone. To compliment Yammer, in the new year we’ll be rolling out Microsoft Teams as a place to go to collaborate on projects and we’ll also be introducing a new SharePoint to make document management easier.
A date to innovate
If we’re going to reimagine housing then innovation will continue to be key for us. We’ve worked hard over the past few years to ingrain innovation and creativity throughout our organisation – however we know there’s still more to do. A big drive for us is to find ways to encourage employees to share micro-innovations – the tiny sparks of innovation that people have on a daily basis that lead to a business improvement. We’ll also be reinvigorating our version of Dragon’s Den (called ‘4 in 4’) where employees pitch an idea for business transformation and are then supported to turn it into reality. We’ve had some successful 4 in 4 projects over the past couple of years however we want to give employees more structure and support throughout the project and will be encouraging people to share their failures just as much as their successes.
We’re lucky to have had a member of our Development team, Jay take part in the fantastic Greenhouse project run by the NHF. Jay has brought a lot of learning back into the organisation around a methodology and process for innovation and we’re building some of this in to our approach.
All of this will contribute towards our end goal of being the test bed for new ideas within the sector – openly sharing our learning with others.
The golden thread…
Everything that I’ve mentioned here has a common theme: doing each of these things will increase our efficiency. It might not be the most exciting topic, however it’s incredibly important as our obsession with driving down our operating cost per home will ultimately help us build more homes, for more people. And what’s more exciting than that?
Thanks to everyone we’ve worked with in 2018 – we look forward to collaborating further next year.
PS Thanks to everyone who has let me know they’ve voted for me in the 24Housing Power Players list – it means a lot to me and the rest of RHP. You can vote up until 24 December – find out how to do it here.