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Going beyond repairs and ASB: Escalating the complaints process to the housing ombudsman

In August, we discussed how mobile apps, portals, virtual agent (AI enabled Chatbots), and more can help housing associations manage issues such as repairs and anti-social behaviour. The next stage of this process is managing formal complaints, including escalation to the ombudsman complaints process.

In the Charter for Social Housing Resident's Whitepaper, one key issue highlighted was that tenants “didn’t feel listened to when they raised concerns and complaints”. Our recent Housing Breakfast webinar showed Housing Associations how to manage issues, but the next step is managing customer complaints - treating tenants with dignity and respect.

Tenants sit at the heart of social housing, and tenants expect to have their complaints dealt with promptly and fairly, alongside access to fair redress from the ombudsman. Complaints management is not only key to customer satisfaction, the number of complaints can also provide insight into how the housing association is operating, highlighting key ways to improve the association.

Dynamics 365 is the ultimate tool for case management. A complaint can enter the process via a simple email, which in turn triggers the creation of case, an auto-reply email, and the case is then entered into a queue. It is then assigned to a case worker, who has a conversation with the complainant to either resolve the complaint or escalate it to the ombudsman. As it allows for customers to raise complaints at every lifecycle stage - through a virtual agent, contact centre, or online - Dynamics 365 is suitable for various ages, abilities, and technologies. Complaints can be automatically passed onto the relevant department, and SLA’s can be put in place to ensure complaints are handled quickly.

As a cloud-based platform, Dynamics 365 can be accessed anywhere, allowing field staff to log, update, and resolve complaints remotely. Not only does this ensure details from home visits aren’t forgotten, it also improves the speed of the complaint for the tenant.

Customer portals mean that complainants are able to check the progress of their complaints rather than waiting for an update or chasing admin staff. Tenants log onto the portal (which can also be used to submit complaints) which leads then through a transparent process until the complaint is resolved or escalated. This reduces admin and customer service time, giving customer care teams more time to work on complex cases, and means the tenant can access all of their information whenever and wherever they want.

Satisfied tenants are the key to a successful housing association, and while reducing complaints is the overall aim, the next best option is to handle the complaints efficiently.


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