How can Local Governments shield their most vulnerable residents?

Mark Britton
by Mark Britton 12 May 2020

"Never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that: it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before." 
Rahm Emanuel

It may seem odd to consider that there are positives we can take out of the current Coronavirus crisis that the UK and much of the world is going through. And while we must never underestimate or disregard the horror and loss the pandemic has caused, it has also brought together communities, united people and transformed society with the single goal to help others.

This is nowhere more relevant than in Local Authorities (LAs) and Housing Associations (HAs) across the UK that are working at pace to shield and protect their most vulnerable residents. These organisations are doing great work to connect willing volunteers with vulnerable people, to help facilitate the delivery of vital shopping, medicines and other support as thousands self-isolate. However, identifying vulnerable residents, understanding their needs and matching these with volunteers with the skills or time to help, can incur considerable amount of time and effort, which risks slow response times. Fortunately, just as technology is keeping millions of people connected during this challenging time, it can also be used effectively to connect local authorities, residents and volunteers, to shield society’s most vulnerable.

At Crimson, we have leveraged Microsoft’s free software licensing offers to deploy templated solutions that help ease the demand COVID-19 is having on LA customer service teams.  The new Crimson Shield solution brings together three powerful Microsoft cloud service components: the AI-enabled chatbot Virtual Agent, the self-serve Customer Portal platform, and Microsoft’s revered Customer Services platform, which enables organisations to automate customer service tasks to reduce response times.

Crimson Shield enables LAs to import lists of vulnerable residents (such as those who may have received a letter from the NHS advising them to self-isolate) in one place, with rich data about each one and their needs. It then enables willing volunteers to sign up to offer support through a self-serve system, which registers their details, understands where they can help and automates a DBS check. System operators can then use this data source to match vulnerable people with suitable volunteers to ensure they can continue to support their residents with the help of the local community.

Importantly, the mobile-friendly solution also closes the loop on the support structure, enabling volunteers to confirm a task has been carried out and enabling those supported to leave feedback. Furthermore, because Crimson Shield is a self-serve solution, volunteers can also notify the system when they may be unable to carry out support, for example, if they have fallen ill and need to self-isolate. The result is technology that brings local authorities and housing associations closer to their residents and the overall community, without slowing down support response times and having to on-board additional service staff during times when typical recruitment processes are almost impossible.

But what does this have to do with Rahm Emmanuel’s quote about not letting a crisis go to waste? There has been plenty of talk about the world preparing itself for a ‘new-normal’ and one thing important to retain from the pandemic is the sense of community and support it has fostered.

Crimson’s recent Driving Digital: Transforming Social Housing in 2020 survey revealed that 95% of local authority and housing association professionals want to utilise digital technology to enhance the customer experience. By utilising Crimson Shield as an essential part of any long-term digital strategy, these organisations can better understand the unique needs and requirements of residents and tailor their services accordingly.  This creates a greater sense of community between organisations, residents and employees.

We may be in a moment of temporary crisis, but the lessons we learn can accelerate the coming together of communities and people, with local authorities, housing associations and Microsoft technology at the heart of this new societal order.

To find out more about how Crimson Shield works and protect your community, view our useful video:

Topics: Digital Transformation, Customer Engagement, Covid-19, housing associations, local authorities, Microsoft Virtual Agent, Crimson Shield, Microsoft Customer Service