IMPROVE TENANT SATISFACTION MEASURES WITH FIELD WORKFORCE MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE
4 min. reading time
6 April 2022 ·
James Alex Waldron
rom Governance and Financial Viability to Home and Tenancy Standards; Social Landlords and Housing Associations face a growing pack of economic and consumer balances before placing their first occupiers.
The Tenant Satisfaction Measure is another important piece of consumer regulation and is scheduled for delivery in April 2023. In line with this proposal, the Housing Ombudsman has undertaken a benchmarking review with particular focus on complaint handling procedures for existing tenants. Whilst a unified standard is good news for all stakeholders, digital workflows and dynamic software are key to managing the 5 million-plus UK homes in the social housing sector.
The first Housing Ombudsman Service Annual Complaints Review has identified six key issues. Whether you are a social landlord, or a maintenance/repairs provider to the sector, here we look at the three Operational topics and how the application of field workforce management software can improve service to prevent complaints.
SOCIAL HOUSING AND FIELD SERVICE EXPECTATIONS
As a provider of maintenance/repairs services, 'poor communication and a lack of follow up' is the number one factor negatively impacting satisfaction scores. Workforce management software tracks your field KPIs, and centralises the control and the monitoring of field operations and their communications. This is already assisting providers to meet or exceed expectations.
There are two central themes to achieve this. The first is a guarantee that all field operatives are working with a recognised criteria (tasks, tools, results) and that these results are of an acceptable quality. The software should assist schedulers and dispatchers to manage their operational processes and respond dynamically to field requirements. Integrated call centres, self-service ticket raising, and emergency response are standard ‘always-on’ channels for tenants to engage with your workforce management system.
The other is to safeguard physical locations from slow responses by removing patches/hard borders when scheduling. Modern software consults geocodes (not just street addresses) to include time-of-day driving data for trillions of journeys. With a minimal amount of human administration, the system will always reflect what is physically possible, whilst balancing field operative skills and workloads fairly. Scheduling and route planning with an overlapping radius produces less travel, and tenants are prevented from feeling that they are in a service desert.
Once visited, the connected software may send an exit survey to the tenant and transparent field scheduling answers with the opportunity to book a follow-up appointment in real time. An example: the same field operative is booked for a shorter visit, two weeks later. That binding appointment is placed into the schedule, and new, route- and cost-optimised appointments may be scheduled around it. The appointments are linked, meaning that should the repaired asset fail in the meantime, the already-booked appointment is considered in the schedules and the tenant is notified with efficient options. On the day, they can check the progress of their ticket. All results from the exchange are written back into the CRM for audit.
Engaging the developer of field workforce management software means learning from their experiences to ensure tenant repairs workflows are future-ready. Sector knowledge, whether it’s specific to Housing, or the dozens of appointment types required (such as regulated utilities or voids) is critical. Whilst the new measure will work across the sector, each organisation (and each occupier population) is unique.
Scheduling optimised field appointments means making a calculation against cost parameters, the SLA, and countless background data points. Even with a visit planned for the best outcome, some operators are damaging their social tenant satisfaction scores with 'missed or unproductive appointments'. Whilst initially 'no access' seems to lay with the tenant not opening the door (neither the fault of the dispatch process or the field operative) the report emphasises two fundamental factors that contribute to this metric. These are in fact, a 'no show' from the field operative, and/or 'incorrect skills or equipment' to provide a first-time fix.
Real-time workforce management software mitigates these risks through digitised instruction and continuous optimisation. It begins with a move toward high quality appointment data. This can be asset details, impact, the nature of the household, even the length of time from fault to the report being made. Continual refinement of the fields may see the questions change, but a 'real' real-time workforce management system will consider as many parameters as possible to determine the true requirement. It can then satisfy optimal skills, parts, vehicle, and time (time to fix within a highly accurate, appropriate window).
To lessen the risk of no access, the choice of cost-optimised appointments is then presented back to the social tenant, either over the phone, or via a portal (login, or email, or SMS). Tenants may schedule and reschedule via FLS PORTAL at their convenience. It also produces reminders, increasing satisfaction and lowering cost risks at head office—such as unnecessary field operative down time/driving and overstocks of supplies. New, transparent data is available within the business to analyse trends and empower customer service teams to action any slip in tenant ratings.
Social Landlords and Housing Associations are legally bound to ensure properties are ‘free from hazards, warm enough, and in a reasonable state of repair’. But tenants with urgent maintenance requirements find the backlog presents an impossible choice.
WORKFORCE MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE
CAN END HOUSING MAINTENANCE BACKLOGS
Easily take control of both sides of the appointment equation – the request and the dispatch.
Surveys across tenants, the field workforce, and head office highlighted 'inadequate records'—particularly incomplete, or missing repairs logs. This inefficiency directly links with the tools made available to field service operatives.
Mobile workforce management software digitises the workflow between social housing assets—such as domestic heating or an estate’s fire safety systems—and the appointments technicians are allocated to service these. Asset management using a connected ERP provides a single source of truth to include the manufacturer’s lifecycle and the recommended maintenance intervals. With this information, head offices can proactively schedule regular inspections and longer-term planned maintenance/replacement programmes.
When an asset fails, such a secure entry system, a reactive visit required. Scheduling this field appointment in real time with FLS VISITOUR gives dispatchers an instant picture of technician availability and route planning for the best outcome. A mobile app, such as FLS MOBILE provides a live link to the mobile workforce and gives head office the tools to reschedule in-shift (no batch or overnight processing). An asset’s repair logs may be delivered to the workforce as paperless, searchable data. Further tools such as photography of completed work and digital signatures are written back into the CRM/ERP. Head office may then use the appointment data to satisfy record keeping requirements and to identify patterns to detect and prevent future failures. Appointment details can be shared with building managers and individual occupants to reinforce trust, and create a cycle of continuous improvement.