Gate One’s team led the pioneering initiative for Richmond Housing Partnership (RHP) to be the first digital-only housing service in the UK; an industry first, which improved the lives of housing tenants and delivered significant efficiencies. Thanks to this initiative, Gate One won the Digital CX Innovation (Creative Thinking) category at The UK Digital Experience Awards in 2016.

The Challenge

Richmond Housing Partnership (RHP), the client, is a social housing provider with over 10,000 properties. RHP supports key workers, retirees, and those from a low socio-economic background, with a disability or mental health problems. They were faced with declining revenues, heightened customer digital expectations and a need to reinvent their business model to maintain their status as a self-sustaining not for profit organisation.

RHP’s less digitally savvy customer base and restricted budget made an extensive omnichannel digital transformation, which would be a challenge even for large corporates, even more difficult. Creativity and innovation were needed to help launch online services and the first digital-only solution in the housing sector. It was this approach that made the Gate One initiative stand out: the team undertook this challenge with a fresh perspective and enthusiasm, taking elements of the best digital enablement examples across multiple industries to develop an innovative strategy with RHP.

How We Helped

In a bold strategy Gate One delivered an end-to-end digital transformation, covering all elements from omni-channel strategy, customer experience mapping, operating model design, building digital capabilities, piloting new technologies, customer channel migration – all underpinned by innovative culture change initiatives and a focus on benefits realisation.

The digital transformation was achieved by engaging with the customer throughout the whole 2-year journey through a collaborative working style, fostering a genuine partner relationship and effective change, which was affordable and sized correctly for RHP as a notfor-profit organisation. Several headline benefits were delivered:

1. Improved customer experience and digital inclusion: services can be accessed at any time from any device. Most customers now self-serve through digital channels – 80% of repair bookings are made online (up from 9%) and 99% of payments are electronic (up from 60%). As a result, the customer satisfaction level is 84% and rising.
2. Faster and more responsive service delivery: issues are now resolved in 4 hours instead of 4 days. Web chat and social media serve customers more efficiently, seeing a reduction by 31% in call volumes.

3. Reduction in organisation costs: largely by using cheaper digital channels and moving to customer self-service. The contact centre has reduced cost to serve by 45%, reallocating 30% of customer service staff to other activities.

Because of the team’s determined approach, RHP achieved its hugely ambitious aims of significantly increasing their Customer Service Index rating, becoming a top 25 service delivery organisation in the UK. RHP is now ranked #1 in Dolphin Innovation Index and is seen as a leader in the digital arena. RHP’s residents have also experienced wider benefits: they are more digitally included, therefore more financially and socially included – and more likely to self-serve, find work, and pay their rent.

We chose to enter our initiative into the awards because, quite simply, we wanted to share this outstanding piece of work. As David Done (RHP CEO) commented, he was “inspired by [Gate One’s] ideas. [Gate One] have made me think completely differently about online service delivery – and what’s possible”. Entering the awards allows Gate One to demonstrate to other housing associations seeking to replicate RHP’s digital journey what is achievable.

Gate One has felt the benefits of the initiative as well as RHP: the overall results are a significant achievement considering this type of change had never been achieved in the industry and the lack of digital capabilities of both RHP’s customers and staff. The team were recognised as overdelivering on the original objectives, directly leading to five Digital Experience Awards being awarded to Gate One for digital strategy and innovation culture delivery. This has led to us working with The Guinness Partnership, and we continue to work with RHP on their service offer, and innovation.
To develop our initiative further, the work has been ‘wrapped up’ into a commercial package so it can be offered to other housing associations.

Professional Bio – Umbar Shakir (Principal):
Umbar is an experienced Management Consultant, specialising in digital / omni-channel strategy and implementation. Umbar relishes a good challenge: the thrill of the journey to solve a good puzzle; the buzz you get when helping a client have a ‘light-bulb’ moment; or the excitement of turning ideas into reality. Outside of work, Umbar is a committed political activist, working with the FCO to organise the 2014 Global Summit to Prevent Sexual Violence in Conflict, drafting Angelina Jolie’s keynote speech. She regularly mentors junior female consultants in Gate One and other firms, and runs business workshops for aspiring photographers and designers.

Professional Bio – Becci Marsden:
Becci is an experienced consultant who has spent over 7 years shaping and delivering complex programmes for clients in the private, public and third sectors. Having had the opportunity to advise on and deliver projects on 4 continents, she has finally ‘dropped anchor’ in consulting terms at Gate One. Becci is driven to deliver her maximum on every client assignment and always supports her team to do the same. She believes that, while the ultimate aim of any transformation programme is sustainable organisational change and realisation of business benefit, it’s the journey to get there that is the enriching part. Away from work, Becci is rarely seen in the UK as she loves to travel far and wide – wherever she goes indulging in plenty of exotic food & drink, interspersed with bouts of a variety of fitness and sporting activities.

Professional Bio – Claire Laing:
Claire is an experienced Manager at Gate One, she thrives on experiencing different cultures and the challenge of adapting to new environments, whether this is travelling the world or getting stuck into a new market sector through her consulting work. She specialises in end-to-end transformations; helping clients to define their strategies, fully design and implement their solutions and embed changes to realise ongoing benefits. Claire joined Gate One seeking a firm whose values align with her own: working side by side with clients and focusing tirelessly on delivering lasting business results. Claire has worked across a range of industries to develop innovative and engaging approaches to business transformation, her keenest interest being the people change aspects of any complex programme.

Professional Bio – Jamie Powell:
Jamie’s passion lies in digital innovation and how disruptive technology will further shape and change industries in the future. This began at Accenture where, during the first 3 ½ years of his consulting career, Jamie worked on a range of complex transformation programmes involving organisation design, technology implementation and change management. He later joined the Retail banking division at a large UK bank, helping to define and shape their distribution strategy. He also led the design and delivery of a new concept branch format for the bank. Outside of work he can usually be found training for the next sporting event – be it a sprint triathlon, Three Peaks challenge or mega bike ride. He also enjoys fine wine (any vintage) and trips to Stamford Bridge to watch his beloved Chelsea (2016/2017 vintage in particular).

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About The Author

Gate One is a consultancy specialising in business transformation. Our ambition is to create a different kind of consulting firm; one that works in genuine partnership to transform our clients’ businesses for the better.