“We’re busier than ever, but investing in digital to deliver better services.”
The coronavirus pandemic has created many challenges for us all. On a personal level, many of us have struggled with isolation and uncertainty over work or family. On a regional and national level, we’re seeing huge changes to our economy and way of life. But what does that mean for you as a believe housing customer?
It means that top-quality support is still available, and customers are still at the heart of everything we do, that homes are still here for those that need them, and that our mission to deliver a life without barriers has not changed. But, it means that we’re busier than ever. As an example, in the last week of August alone we received 365 bids for homes, that’s up 71% on early February before the pandemic had set in. And we’re seeing those patterns mirrored in every service we provide too.
Ensuring the safety of our customers and colleagues has meant that some people are waiting longer than normal for our services and I want to thank you all for your patience and understanding. We’re doing everything we can to reduce the length of time it’s taking to get people signed up to their new home and carry out repairs as we understand the impact this has.
Over the past few months we have been gradually reintroducing more non-emergency repairs in line with government advice and focussing on external repairs.
From Tuesday, September 1 we were pleased to be able to offer non-emergency internal home repairs again, with appointments bookable using our customer app. On the first day we had 51 tradespeople working on repairs and they completed hundreds of jobs, and in the first week over 550 repairs appointments were made by customers using the appointment facility in the app – that’s over 55% of appointments overall.
Not everything is in our control sadly. It’s still the case that some materials for repairs are in huge demand and take longer to source. It’s also still the case that government advice on social distancing and safe working means that some of the things we do take longer; and some have to be done very differently or even remotely online to ensure the safety of everyone.
Just like we have done from the outset of this pandemic, we won’t compromise on the safety of our customers and colleagues. We know that you expect nothing less from a responsible and caring, not-for-profit housing association like believe housing.
We’re moving quickly on the things that are in our control. You’ll notice a huge move to do more and more digitally for example. That’s because it’s quicker for our customers and it’s more reliable in the possible event that we have to react to further changes in government advice on things like social distancing.
You can already use our customer app on your smartphone, and I’d urge you to do so because it brings a whole host of services to your fingertips 24 hours a day seven days a week.
We’re working on new platforms like a full online customer portal too. An improved phone system has been launched now, which will ensure that our contact centre is better placed to handle the increased volume of calls that we are currently receiving while we upgrade our digital options … while still allowing our people to work remotely whenever necessary.
An average day is currently seeing around 1,200 calls received, which means our customer app is often a quicker option for many.
The year 2020 is going to be remembered for many not very good reasons, but at believe housing we’re determined to make sure that we come through it in as strong a position as possible.
Finally, it’s important to remember that government guidance on social distancing is still in place, alongside other measures to limit the potential for coronavirus to spread in our communities. If you’re in any doubt about what the latest guidance is, check www.nhs.uk.