New functionality for Halton Housing’s customer app
Halton Housing has significantly extended the functionality of its customer self-service app following its highly successful launch. Halton Housing is a registered not for profit housing association, managing 7,000 homes in the Cheshire towns of Widnes and Runcorn. As part of its Digital First strategy, the organisation has worked closely with Aareon, using its 1st Touch software to develop the self-service customer app along with a website portal and mobile working for its workforce.
Since the initial launch, the Self-Service App has proved to be extremely popular with customers. Two thirds of all Halton Housing's customers now access services digitally, with 99.5% of rent balance enquiries now being made via digital services. 39% of repair requests and 67% of anti- social behaviour reports are also now made online. Combined, this has reduced incoming customer phone calls by 71%. Overall Halton Housing's aim is to get 90% of customer led transactions online by 2018; they are already running at over 80%, a figure which is continually increasing.
Initially, the App delivered the ability for customers to view details of their tenancy / rent balance as well as the ability to request a repair or arranging a gas engineer visit and a number of other functions. However, after 18 months of successfully using the system, Halton Housing has now introduced a wealth of new customer-focussed features. With the new version of the App, customers can:
• Manage and pay rent by direct debit and request a rent refund.
• Update their contact details.
• Report repairs and arrange a convenient date and time for an operative to visit.
• Keep up to date with Halton's ' News' and find out more about Universal Credit, Property Pool Plus, Homeswapper and Movemaker.
• Access the organisation's 'LifeKit' – an acclaimed digital toolkit which empowers customers to take control of their finances and to live a little better.
• Reporting a local problem such as Fly tipping and graffiti.
• Use the app to make the process of moving a lot smoother, with information on how to 'Give Notice' etc.
As the customers use the App, all the information entered is automatically updated in Halton's Aareon QL Housing Management and Document Management systems. This enables management to produce insightful usage reports and to monitor service levels at a glance.
The App has generated a number of major benefits for Halton. These include significantly reduced costs and improved efficiencies along with much greater flexibility and diversity. The savings made have been redirected into other areas of the organisation to where customers need more intensive support.
Commenting on the success of the App, Halton Housing's Director of ICT, Business Improvement & Communications Carole Galsworthy said, "Our free customer App is the 'perfect portable companion' to customers as it has allowed them a quick and easy way to do more online at a time that is convenient to them and is available 24/7/365.
"The initial success of the self-service customer App gave us the confidence to develop and evolve the breadth of services we now offer online. By listening closely to our customer's needs, we have added this extra functionality, thereby adding even more benefits for customers. The 1st Touch system has allowed us to do this easily and professionally and we are already looking to add further services in the future."
Nigel Rees Managing Director of Aareon UK is impressed by how well 1st Touch technology has been used, noting; "By enhancing their self-service customer interface, Halton Housing are delivering on their primary objective to 'Improve People's Lives'. And by using the 1st Touch App technology to achieve this, they have combined both top flight customer-care and outstanding technical creativity.
"The figures speak for themselves, highlighting just how popular the App has been since its launch. Halton Housing has built on this success by adding additional functionality which should also prove popular. The benefits include: significantly reduced costs, greater efficiency and significantly enhanced customer care. We look forward to hearing about how the new functionality is received."
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