Here Taranjit Dosanjh (Head of Neighbourhoods) at Mosscare Housing Group makes his second guest contribution to our blog. Here he discusses why Mosscare wants to mobilise their Housing Officers and what they are trying to achieve and how it differs from the objectives of other organisations. He also talks about what he has learnt from working in partnership with Orchard, City University London and several other social housing organisations during his involvement in the project.

Our top priority is customer service, and a key area we are looking at to drive this forwards is by mobilising our housing officers to improve customer satisfaction and drive efficiencies to combat the 1% rent reduction. Underpinning this, a key area of focus is making sure that we successfully deal with customers at the first point of contact.

At Mosscare, at least 85% of our contact with our customers is by phone. It’s how our customers want to engage with us. Therefore, we want to send our Officers to do a particular job by appointment when it is required otherwise we’ll handle it over the phone. For us mobilisation means our staff in the office can deal with 85% of tasks, and that for the tasks or jobs that require a visit our Officers can access the information that they need to on a mobile device. What we have found interesting about being involved in the Mobilising the Housing Officer project that we have worked on with Orchard and several of their customers is that each customer organisation has a slightly different vision of what they want mobilisation to be. For example, some organisations want to lift everything from their desktop and take it with them so that they can do everything on the go – which is very different to how we want to work. Everyone involved in the project is clear about what they want from the mobile solution – but we all work well together, and it has felt really collaborative. By working in partnership, I feel that we will have a broader solution that is flexible enough to give everyone what they want without it being ‘watered down’.

There are three key things that are important to us for a mobilisation solution: that it works offline, that the look and feel is user driven, and that it drives real efficiency.

Offline working
One of the most important things for us is that a mobile solution works offline. Look – network providers give you 97-99% availability. But it’s the 3-1% of areas where you do not have availability that matters. Modern construction means that you can walk in and through a building and go from 4G to 3G to nothing in a matter of seconds. That’s no good to us. However, if you can work offline it doesn’t matter – you can still help with a balance enquiry, see their recent repairs and ASB case details – all the information you basically need to be able to help with customer ‘boomerangs’ as well as the information they need for the main purpose of the visit.

User driven look and feel
Look and feel is also important. We always try to make sure that we have taken end-user’s perspective into consideration in whatever projects we work on – but by working with Orchard and City University London this has been taken to the next level. We have had the real sense that the users are not only at the table, but at the front and have been given control. It’s refreshing. It has been about taking a step back and looking at things from the end user’s perspective. At the end of the day, they will be the ones using the solution so it has to work for them. We have to be practical, and we cannot always do everything that they want or recommend – but if the suggestions make sense and are practical, we would be stupid not to listen and act upon them.

User driven look and feel
Look and feel is also important. We always try to make sure that we have taken end-user’s perspective into consideration in whatever projects we work on – but by working with Orchard and City University London this has been taken to the next level. We have had the real sense that the users are not only at the table, but at the front and have been given control. It’s refreshing. It has been about taking a step back and looking at things from the end user’s perspective. At the end of the day, they will be the ones using the solution so it has to work for them. We have to be practical, and we cannot always do everything that they want or recommend – but if the suggestions make sense and are practical, we would be stupid not to listen and act upon them.

Driving real efficiencies
As well as successfully completing visits at the first point of contact, it is really important that we reduce duplication of effort. Right now, our housing officers go out to perform visits, fill in forms, and then have to go through all of the bureaucracy of adding notes back into the system and raising follow-up actions such as repairs when they get back to the office. We want them to do it when they are out there and performing visits – at least to start the process. We want as little as possible done twice.  Additionally, when out on a tenancy visit, we want our housing officers to throw a couple of ‘boomerangs’ too. For example, if a customer has a repairs appointment booked for the following week we can remind them about it because missed appointments are very costly. These are two key areas that I can see us making real efficiency gains.

If we get these three things right, as well as becoming more efficient we could see an increase in customer satisfaction that we have never seen before – and I am really excited about that! The potential of this is immense.

Taranjit Dosanjh, Head of Neighbourhoods, Mosscare Housing

Want to know more? Check out our ‘Orchard Digital’ page, which includes blog pieces by our staff and customers on digital transformation and mobilising your workforce.