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Bringing Complaints Handling into the 21st Century

“We heard from some residents that making a complaint can be difficult and take too long – and that it can sometimes take months for the complaint to be resolved, or for the resident to be able to access the Housing Ombudsman.” 

The Charter for Social Housing Resident's whitepaper, which was released in 2020, highlighted the necessity to provide tenants with effective methods of raising concerns. Housing providers must ensure that all residents are able to make complaints and can do so confidently. It is also important that tenants understand the procedures and how the complaint will progress over time. Housing providers face time constraints to handle complaints before the Housing Ombudsman or a local MP gets involved and a formal investigation is launched.  

Social housing tenants are more likely to be victims of anti-social behaviour, and they have the right to feel safe, secure, and stable in their homes, without fear of anti-social behaviour. While local authorities and the police play a role in tackling anti-social behaviour, housing providers can also take responsibility for ensuring appropriate support and assistance.  

The key to providing all residents with the power to confidently raise complaints is omnichannel engagement. Omnichannel engagement is vital for great customer satisfaction, and provides a rounded view of tenants. Therefore, customers can log complaints through several channels, to cater to a variety of demographics, technological abilities, and circumstances.  


Using the Microsoft Stack to give tenants the confidence to raise complaints 


Tenant portals act as a central hub for queries, resources, and complaints. Housing residents can get in touch with Contact Centre Agents, where complaints can be logged, amended, and tracked – giving tenants clarity of their progress. The portals can stay with tenants during their time with the housing association and can be used for other services aside from complaints.  


Some tenants may not be tech savvy and will prefer to log their complaints via email or phone. Microsoft Power Platform’s AI Builder can analyse sentiment in both emails and phone calls using artificial intelligence to improve the speed and effectiveness of complaints handling. The AI builder can monitor and analyse whether emails or phone calls are positive, negative, or neutral – providing insights into the tenant’s responses.  

Another method for tenants to log complaints is via Virtual Agent. Tenants can chat live with Contact Centre Agents, to ask questions, discuss complaints, or be directed to the portal. Not only is this a faster response than the portal, but it is also more personal and build rapport with the tenant – improving satisfaction.  

Virtual Agent Screenshot

Throughout complaint processes, tenants will often need to upload photos to support their complaint. Microsoft Azure’s Computer Vision has the power to automate the photo reviewing process, by recognising both faces and objects. This standardises complaints by objectively reviewing the complaints, which can then be passed onto the repairs team, or other relevant department. Once again, this speeds up the complaints process and ensures fairness across all claims.  

Following a seamless complaints process, housing associations require feedback from the tenant to learn from any mistakes and share successes in the form of testimonials. Customer Voice automates the feedback process and can automatically direct tenants to place a review on Google depending on criteria.  


Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can manage the back end of the complaint handling process by automatically bringing tenant data together from legacy systems by using low-code automation. By saving time that would be otherwise spent on time-consuming, mundane tasks, housing associations have more time to spend supporting tenants. RPA can also be used for automating manual processes for external applications, such as complaints that come through the Housing Ombudsman or an MP.  



By using a range of Microsoft solutions to deal with customer complaints, housing providers can build trust with residents, all thanks to a choice of channel. Tenants can use their preferred communication method which makes the process easier and less stressful. As previously mentioned, it is still important to manage omnichannel engagement effectively, to ensure all complaints are dealt with in a timely manner. 

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