Winning such a prestigious award as the Overall Winner award is something truly deserving of praise. Gate One’s initiative and their work with the Richmond Housing Partnership shows what it means to be committed and fully supportive of clients.
Gate One is a leader in the delivery of digital transformations through advisory support that provides full support throughout the cycles of design, delivery and management of digital platforms.
Their work with the Richmond Housing Partnership particularly stands out and it’s the reason for their award in the ’16 DXA. Richmond Housing Partnership (RHP) is a social housing provider with over 10,000 properties.
They support key workers, retirees and society’s most vulnerable people including domestic violence victims and those with disabilities or mental health problems.
Gate One partnered with RHP and successfully helped them implement an Omni-channel digital transformation that improved the lives of housing associates while increasing efficiency at RHP. This is the initiative that’s going to be discussed in this blog, and we’ll be taking you through the various steps and rationale behind the developments to give you a better understanding of these amazing changes first hand.
The Context Leading to the Developments
Gate One’s partnership with RHP brought about the development of the first digital-only housing service in the UK. This change however, wasn’t without its challenges, but it was required as it would help RHP develop their organisation further while combating some difficulties they faced before.
The idea of a digital-only housing service was understandably quite complicated, as it had to be developed in an industry where traditional and inefficient customer channels are prevalent.
Because of that, customer engagement and inclusion through digital channels was even more difficult, even though the need for that change was there.
Tenants surely appreciate faster services and tangible improvements that directly affect them, and thus the developments made sense for both Gate One and RHP.
Furthermore, the need for change was even greater when considering that RHP operates on a restricted budget as a not-for-profit organisation.
Declining revenues due to government cuts, increased digital accessibility in other industries, higher customer expectations and the expectance of digital channels all resulted in RHP’s need to reinvent its business model to maintain its status as a self-sustaining, not-for-profit organisation.
About the Developments
Gate One had to come up with developments to overcome these issues. Their effort led to a big overhaul at RHP which helped them address these challenges while establishing reasonable business targets.
Gate One’s developments improved customer experience and digital inclusion. This included easier access to RHP services, a lowering of customer effort, easier methods of paying rent through digital inclusion of services as well as the peer-to-peer solving of problems through an eCommunities forum.
Furthermore, the developments also made RHP better and faster overall while decreasing costs for the organisation. This was achieved through reduced service costs and an increase in the capacity of the contact center through the addition of digital channels. Web chat and social media was also improved and made more efficient which saw a reduction in call volumes.
The Transformation Achieved
Developing the initiatives needed to change RHP required a great degree of creativity and innovative thinking from Gate One. They realised that in order to overcome all challenges, the developments had to be made with a fresh perspective that takes into account all the elements of the best digital implementations across multiple industries.
Creativity was needed to launch the first digital-only solution in the housing sector and effectively engage the vulnerable and disadvantage people who weren’t always able to take advantage of these changes.
Thus the solution also included changes in the structure of the business model which encouraged greater connectivity with clients through digital channels.
For example, the Omni-channel digital experience covered multiple systems such as web chat, social media and a new website, thus taking the changes directly to customer facing areas where change was needed.
Furthermore, internal training programmes were held to teach staff how to write for social media and get clients involved and engaged there. Employee empowerment was also on the agenda, with gamification of many processes being delivered which in-turn made employees more responsive to customers while learning about important processes in a fun yet competitive manner.
Gate One also helped to encourage more customer choice through these developments, with multiple digital channels offering more communication options with RHP.
The Self-service customer experience was also improved with changes reducing telephone calls from 85% to 35% with digital making up 65% of all interactions now. Furthermore, Gate One developed online services which allow customers to manage issues themselves, thus reducing costs for RHP.
But mainly, the developments Gate One pioneered at RHP resulted in faster and more convenient service from the organisation through these digital channels.
Gate One also designed a digital operation model which included the creation of a ‘sundown team’ that’s encouraged to resolve queries on the same day. Response time across the board has also been decreased and average turnaround time for queries has dropped from 4 days to 4 hours.
The Lesson behind these Developments
The work Gate One has done for RHP is something which is of growing importance across all industries. Digitalisation is something that has been growing and developing for a while, and it will keep developing into the future for some time to come.
These developments are also a great example of how digitalisation can affect industries where ‘just yesterday’ they weren’t seen as important. This is due to growing customer expectations and the expectation for convenience and digital accessibility across all industries.
Companies and organisations are now competing to provide the most convenient services while pioneering digital initiatives even if they aren’t a part of the same industry.
For some, this spells out opportunity, as it allows them to capitalise on the market gap and implement expected digital norms in an industry where they ‘haven’t yet’ taken hold.