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19 Mar 2019

In the ’90s, the internet emerged as the new technology that was going to transform businesses, and ultimately our lives, forever. The financial markets got overly excited, which then led to a market craze. At the same time, many business owners remained cynical about the internet’s impact, and didn’t react enough or at all.

Is the same is occurring with moving to mobile working? Many businesses have been early adopters and are way into their ‘mobile’ journey, while others are yet to even begin. But every housing association soon enough, will need to start their own “offline-to-online” shift.

Mobile working has brought housing associations closer to their customers in ways inconceivable just a decade ago. Whether it’s direct messaging with notifications or tap and pay technology with mobile wallets, handheld gadgets are key enablers.

The world of CRM is being particularly shaken up by these new capabilities. Mobile technology has changed the game. HA’s can now focus on enabling every customer to feel more part of their business and their own customer experience by using technology that fits around them and adds value at every stage. This is creating a whole host of ‘digital tenants’ across the country.

MIS AMS has seen a great shift, with 62% of their clients now implementing its Active H mobile technologies since 2016, not just enabling their customers, but also making themmore efficient. Strategically, a mobile solution strategy will deliver efficiencies and savings back to the organisation over and above a static office based solution. It’s not just about what service the customer receives – although that undoubtedly improves when you have a 360-degree view of them – but it’s also about cutting expenses incurred and employee based time costs.

Save time, save money

Mobile solutions can shave hours off regular tasks, with apps replacing forms, mobile tech replacing resource-heavy local filing and scanning and imaging functions helping keep customer or supply chain-focused staff out in the field.

But the benefits of mobile are not just for mobile workers. Customers also reap the benefits.

One of MIS AMS customers – West Mercia Homes, a West Midlands housing association and one of the region’s largest not-for-profit social housing businesses, can now fully diagnose their own repair and maintenance issues and make appointments online 24/7.

This big digital step for the housing association has been made possible by MIS AMS’ partnership with Omfax, the leading provider of Information Solutions. This shift has handed much of the control back into the customer’s hands, something they have reported to be a very welcomed step.

This new functionality does also mean that for every customer who chooses to self-serve, the association has more time to spend on doing something else, predominantly spending more energy on those customers who need additional support in sustaining their tenancy, and dealing with issues important to customers in their homes and communities.

Get rid of paperwork and endless spreadsheets

Shockingly, the average office worker still uses 10,000 sheets of paper each year. With the development of mobile, an increasing number of apps are focused on getting rid of paperwork altogether and enabling on-the-go employees to deal with documents, without the need to forward them to a PC.

There is also a focus on diminishing the number of spreadsheets team members must use. Not only again does this save time, but also lowers the level of risk – using multiple sheets will only leave room for human error.

Another of MIS AMS clients has revelled in the capabilities that mobile working can bring. Spring Housing is reaping the benefits across its teams by having the ability to work ‘smarter’ due to easier access to its customer insights in one system. It’s thankfully waved goodbye to its endless spreadsheets, which proved extremely time consuming for the housing association and human error was always a big worry for its busy team.

Putting data at your fingertips

Mobile-friendly software puts today’s housing associations in touch with their data in a way that would have been unthinkable even five years ago.

Using Mobile CRM, Mobile Surveyor or Mobile Inspector software from the likes of MIS AMS, puts clients directly in touch with their customer data, whether they are at their desk, out onsite or even travelling, it puts the business in control, 24-7.

The issue HA’s need to be aware of is making that data work for them, used in the right way providers can then deliver customers with personalised services they actually want – which of course, grows their profits. Win-win.

Collecting data is one thing, using it to its best effect in decision making within organisations is an entirely different challenge. As a whole, the sector is slightly behind the curve in terms of collecting and using data to predict trends and thus to deliver tailored housing association services for tenants.

MIS AMS is always looking to challenge its clients and invite them to become more digital – thus helping associations to be at the forefront of technology.

The future

In the future, the digital tenant will be able to use mobile software in more ways than we can imagine. But in the meantime they will make appointments online for repairs and maintenance dealing directly with a maintenance company on some of the more common problems. ‘Appointing online’ is the next wave of digitisation to reach the sector, once again increasing efficiencies for the association whilst delivering faster customer service for the tenant. We know of pilots of the technology and they are being closely watched as the next step towards the future of housing.

And beyond that? Well, we’ll have to wait and see, but virtual reality provides exciting possibilities – not least the ability for tenants to view a property without physically visiting it, and to fix basic things in their homes by being guided through the virtual process first by the repair centre.

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