During Customer Service Week, Martyn Hague, Director of Neighbourhoods at ForHousing explains how the landlord is using new technology to improve services for tenants
Over the past year we’ve been working collaboratively with tenants on how we can use new technology to improve services and empower them to take greater control over their homes.
From new apps and platforms for tenants to contact us day or night, to digital technology that is helping older tenants live independently for longer, we are always looking to innovate.
This approach is having a positive impact - we received close to 400 compliments for services we delivered last year.
But we want to do more and continue to improve, and digital technology is central to this.
For example, our My Account+ tenant app provides a completely new access point for tenants to our services. We consulted with tenants the entire way through the development process making sure that the app was tailored for their needs.
The app offers a quick and easy way for people to contact us, manage their rent account, track home repairs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and more.
By supporting more tenants to pay their rent online and manage their money more effectively, we have helped more tenants to stay in their homes, increased rent payments to over £74 million and reduced arrears by nearly £400,000.
These savings are being reinvested in building vibrant, safe communities.
We are now working towards the launch of version two of My Account+ in 2020. It will enable tenants to take control of their home in new ways, allowing them the opportunity to re-schedule and book their own appointments.
Improving lives is the foundation of everything we do at ForHousing. Technology has a key role to play as we try to keep pace with meeting the housing needs of the rapidly growing older population.
Now innovations can empower people to live in their homes independently for longer and improve their quality of life.
Working collaboratively with Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council, we piloted Smarter Homes technology, which is transforming the way people care for their loved ones, in more than 30 homes in Stockbridge Village.
The pilot saw sensor assistive technology installed in the homes of older people living independently who are reliant on a friend or family member to check in on them.
The sensors are tailored depending on the needs of the tenant, ranging from movement and door sensors to smoke and temperature sensors. These can be set to trigger an alarm after a set time period.
The sensors link to a smartphone app which alerts the tenant’s carer of early warning signs, such as a change in daily routine, that may mean their loved one needs assistance.
For example, the technology helped to quickly identify that one tenant had suffered a bad fall, resulting in medical help reaching them sooner.
It has prolonged the time tenants can live independently in their own home and provided reassurance and peace of mind for families, friends and carers.
One carer told us: “I now can have a normal conversation with my mum, the app stopped me from having a checking conversation, I have become more interested in knowing how she’s feeling and what she’s doing.”
As we continue to strive to be the best landlord we can be, tenant engagement will always be the starting point. Tenants will be the driver in how we use digital technology in the future so that we can continue to improve and tailor the services we offer them.