Tech for Good

In the first of a series of interviews with affiliate members, we speak to Chris Proctor, Chief Executive of Oneserve, a leading provider of field service workforce management solutions. Trusted for over a decade by the housing community, the brand provides technological solutions that help social housing providers and contractors deliver the positive repairs and maintenance service that tenants deserve and providers need.

Chris comments: “We’re all aware of the raft of huge challenges currently facing anyone working in the social housing refurbishment and response / repairs landscape. We’re seeing one of the highest spikes in repairs demands from tenants, combined with the specific challenges of damp and mould, FRA and of course, the Building Safety Act. And we can add to this, the pressure of skills shortages and high demand for training and upskilling workforces. The good news is that this is exactly the kind of environment where digitalisation can make a real difference. But social housing providers need to truly grasp it, take time out to understand the tangible benefits, and be brave enough to embrace true digital transformation. Sadly, it has been sobering for us to see just how many organisations, large and small, do not have proper systems in place or have multiple siloed spreadsheets and documents, all trying to manage operations effectively. The result? Ultimately, it’s the tenant, the customer who suffers.

“Chronic underfunding and complex regulations have put the social housing sector under a critical spotlight and there is concern about the widening chasm between tenants, landlords and regulators. The sector needs to understand how it can close the ‘Customer Centricity’ gap between what tenants want and the actual service they receive. Now is the time for the sector to usher in a new age of tenant-focused excellence in social housing.

Beyond Four Walls

“Oneserve recently conducted a ground-breaking UK-wide study of social housing tenants which revealed that tenant satisfaction levels are driven by such low expectations, that their primary driver is simply to have a ‘safe home’ – despite aspiring to receive a level of service from their landlord comparable to major service providers and retailers like Amazon.

“It was shocking to discover that 40% of respondents and 50% of those aged between 18 and 54 would consider changing providers if they had a choice. This isn’t surprising when you benchmark it against just over 40% of respondents naming fundamental health and safety checks within their homes as their number one priority. How can expectations be set so low? The social housing sector has evolved in a ‘non-competitive’ bubble when it comes to customer service and here at Oneserve, we believe this simply isn’t good enough.

Tenant-focused excellence

“Over the last decade, the technology and digital innovation in which Oneserve has invested, has had one purpose: to create better homes and better lives. Average isn’t good enough. Relying on surface-level metrics alone can be misleading. Collectively we need to get to the heart of what tenants really want and need, and deliver it. It’s time to move beyond fears about the time or resource needed to onboard new technology and start to truly embrace it. The coding, the IT, the technical bit, is what we do, so that social housing providers don’t have to worry about it and can simply focus on the huge positive impact that transformation will have on customer service. It can’t be about just meeting minimum standards anymore; the sector must strive relentlessly to exceed expectations and commit to a culture of continuous improvement.

“This commitment is strongly supported by our membership of Direct Works. Continuous improvement and collaboration are the cornerstones of this community, where we can get practical support and knowledge sharing on the key issues we face as an industry. The collective membership’s engagement and commitment, play a crucial role in all our success, the value we create together and ultimately, creating better homes and better lives.”

To see the ‘Beyond Four Walls’ survey results in full, you can download the free 32 page results report here

For more information about becoming a Direct Works member, visit www.direct-works.co.uk or call 0161 327 1719 to take advantage of a special freeze guarantee two-year membership option.