You might expect the CEO of a sector leading digital transformation agency to trot out a list of well worn buzz words. Omni channel, digital by default, self serve and so the list goes on - but you won’t hear me talking in soundbites. Understanding your customers needs and preferences and using that insight to understand what works, what people want and how to improve customer experience is what you will hear me going on about in an obsessive way.
Take digital exclusion - we make assumptions, assumptions based on age, background, culture and economics, but what we should really do is understand preferences and needs to identify those who want a digital experience and those who have needs that aren’t met through digital. Once you start to understand your customers you can achieve channel shift objectives as the majority of customers want and expect, increased access, 24/7 service so they can interact at a time to suit their lives and visibility and transparency of communication. All of this can be achieved using Prodo’s cutting edge portal. Having everything in one place also helps you to really understand trends, challenges and service delivery reality to drive improvements and service quality.
All too often in the world of channel shift, we lead with efficiencies. Of course, delivering key services efficiently is vital as landlords grapple with multiple demands for capacity and investment. But if you can deliver service efficiently whilst meeting the needs of customers and improving access, engagement and service delivery - you can start to focus on how to channel physical resources to those who need them, so digitalisation becomes less of a default and more of a tool to meet needs.
Supporting complex needs and challenges takes time and therefore they are resource hungry and expensive to service, but if we target both digital services and resource heavy physical services based on what we know about needs, then we can use channel shift gains to deliver social value and meet the needs of customers who are excluded from a digital experience.
Interestingly, there is some emerging correlation behind a digital default only proposition for all and reduced satisfaction, but this pattern is not repeated in organisations who have a strong digital offer, supported by targeted physical input where it is required.
Another interesting pattern that illustrates the multiple benefits of understanding customers, is the impact that trust has on key performance metrics. Landlords that struggle to gain access to homes to complete repairs, service boilers or respond to complaints, typically see lower satisfaction, lower compliance with gas servicing and more persistent, long term complaints. Trust is the cornerstone for the relationship between landlord and customer and when it’s missing, everything else starts to fall apart.
Digitalisation can play a major part in building trust. One of the biggest complaints I hear from customers is that they feel like their concerns, questions, feedback or complaints go into a black hole, some kind of corporate vortex where they wait and hold their breath until they hear back or a solution is found. Feedback includes - not knowing who is owning the issue, multiple hand offs, buck passing and poor communication. Having visibility of progress, action and ownership goes a long way to building trust, and if a customer can see what is being done they are more likely to trust their landlord. Simple, easy to use, digital platforms make this visibility much easier. Having everything in one place, whether a customer is paying rent, reporting a repair, engaging with their landlord or keeping track of progress, improves the customer experience, builds trust and transparency. With new consumer regulation around the corner and strengthened standards on this has never been more important.
In the three months since I joined Prodo I’ve been busy talking to customers and really getting underneath the reality behind the stats. For example, working with a large landlord, we have seen significant capacity gains that have been directed into supporting customers who are digitally excluded, as 70% of customers are registered on their digital portal. This digital by choice approach is key in unlocking capacity and building trust, with 64% being active and over 55% of all contact coming through digital channels. Unpack this further and you have freed up the equivalent of 18-20 FTE - valuable resources that can be pointed at servicing those who may be digitally excluded or other key priorities. Housing Solutions report similar ratios and are seeing almost a third of all repairs being reported online. This creates greater visibility for customers and provides assurance that repairs are being progressed. The final insight Is the emerging pattern around CSAT scores, driven by portal user experience. We are starting to see scores some 10-15% higher than overall averages. Watch this space for greater exploration of the ‘Why’ as we start to see a correlation between access, simplicity, visibility and Increased trust. Working with groups of customers, we are starting to see and hear some interesting patterns.