P49 Social Lily Monk2
Lily Monk Director of Customer Transactions

Following merger, our journey towards building a single contact centre to serve both legacy organisations is well underway. Our big dependency is on the other systems across our organisation that also need to be integrated so that our contact centre platform can connect with them.

We are very excited to have selected a new contact centre platform for the organisation which will go live when all the systems that we depend on have integrated later this year. This will enable us to take some big steps forward in how we can respond to residents’ enquiries.  We are also bringing in new areas, such as service charge teams, who have not previously been contactable within the contact centre systems. This means that our Response Advisors can refer more complex questions directly through to the team who will be resolving the query.

Our ability to manage digital contact will also improve.  We will have better oversight of our response times and the ability to deploy more people to action queries.  We’ll also be able to bring our live webchat back online.

It’s not all about digital though - we know how important it is to be able to get through to us quickly by phone and having a single platform means that we can take full advantage of our larger size to ensure that we always have the right number of people on the lines. 

Building our new platform

Our teams manage nearly a million interactions with residents every year, so we’re really focused on getting the system build right. We kickstarted the procurement process by inviting residents to a co-creation workshop with the project team to gather feedback on the current services we offer. This gave us valuable insight into current challenges for residents and helped us to identify areas we need to focus on, such as improving the speed of response times, the ease of the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and respecting residents preferred contact channels.

We also invited residents to attend demonstration sessions with suppliers of potential contact centre systems. 33 residents supported us over a two-week period.   We asked residents to score the demonstrations from 0-5 and to provide any comments and feedback. We then had an open discussion with our residents’ forum where residents gave feedback on the demonstrations and shared their own ideas.

In response to residents’ feedback about respecting their preferred contact channels, we will shortly begin some door-to-door surveys in a few of our larger stock areas to ask residents about their communication preferences.  We will also be asking residents to help us design our new email address to make sure we choose a simple and clear option.

At the same time, we have a number of focus groups running to gain insights and feedback on the structure and wording of the Interactive Voice Response (IVR).  This will help us to get the right number of options for residents when they call, and to have clear, understandable descriptions for each choice.

Over the summer, residents will participate in the user testing for our new platform, to make sure that everything works for them as well as for colleagues. This will help us get the system build right and we really appreciate their hours of input.

Benefits of a new and improved system

We are aiming to have our new platform live towards the end of 2024, and we're excited for residents and colleagues to see the benefits that it will bring:

  • It will increase the number of people available for each call, shortening wait times.
  • Our advisers will have more automation at their fingertips, giving them access to more information, so that they can focus on their caller’s needs.
  • The system will do more work for our advisors, making it easier to tie up loose ends and be ready for a new call promptly.
  • We will have a broader digital service to allow residents to self-serve which we will continue to expand after we go live.

Some residents have told us they are excited by the prospect of self-serve, and others have shared that they prefer speaking to a human on the phone. We will factor both options into the design build to ensure we are offering a service that works for both.

In the short term...

While we are still working on our legacy platforms, we know that we are not always answering the phones quickly enough. However, we are not waiting for new systems to start improving our service. We have invested in more people, and we are still recruiting. We have invested in training and are developing an even more extensive programme, bringing in specialist learning coaches to further support our advisers. 

As a result of these investments our average wait time has fallen from 485 seconds (just over 6 minutes) in April last year to 187 seconds (just over 3 minutes). These are averages of course, so we are working hard to reduce the longest wait times as well.

We have a lot to do this year, and our teams are filled with enthusiasm for making the changes that will make a difference for our residents and homeowners.

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