8 ideas for chatbot deployment in the housing sector

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Homeowners and tenants are increasingly expecting more from their service providers. If their boiler has broken, or they need to report an ASB incident, they do not want to be placed in a call queue and wait lengthy times to report the issue. Customers increasingly expect to be able to self-serve and report such issues instantly.

To meet the needs of today’s digital-savvy, housing associations have begun to use chatbots to enable customers to get their job done quickly and efficiently via whichever channel is convenient to them. 

There are a range of uses for chatbots within the housing sector, but let’s take a look at some of the most beneficial….

1. Automate general enquiries

Housing associations often receive a high volume of questions into the contact centre, ranging from simple questions such as ‘’Can I keep a pet in my property?’’, to the more complex questions such as ‘’I’m struggling to pay my rent this month.’’. 

Using Conversational AI, a chatbot has the capability of answering more than 70% of users’ questions. When integrated with existing core back-end systems and platforms, the chatbot has the capability of answering some of the more complex questions as well as completing certain tasks for customers, consequently further increasing the percentage of questions that can be handled by a bot.  

2. Internal support

As more organisations adjust to hybrid working models, customer service teams must find ways of effectively communicating and sharing knowledge with one another remotely. The impact of not doing so leads to longer handling times in the contact centre, a poor customer experience and an increase in complaints. 

A chatbot can be the perfect tool for effectively managing communication and preventing knowledge silos. With an internal chatbot at hand, customer service staff can upload content into the chatbot and find the information they need instantly at any hour of day, resulting in quicker response rates and a better customer experience.

3. Voice-enabled assistance for the elderly or vulnerable

For the elderly and vulnerable who struggle with mobility issues or vision problems, a hand-held device may not be usable. For Housing Associations looking to make their services more accessible, a voice activated chatbot within a smart speaker is the perfect solution for assisting customers who may struggle to make contact with their housing provider via the traditional devices or channels.

Using an omni-channel chatbot platform, Housing Associations can build their chatbot content once and apply to many channels, meaning that customers can obtain the same level of service from the chatbot across all channels, whether that’s via a smart speaker, or a website.

4. Streamline repairs process

Within the Housing Association sector, questions relating to repairs are amongst the most frequently asked. With a chatbot in place that is integrated into the repair management system, the chatbot not only has the capability of answering simple repairs-related questions, it can also complete tasks for customers such as rescheduling a repair or raising a request, drastically reducing the number of repair questions entering the contact centre.

5. Information gathering before human handover

In the instance that a customer has a highly complex or emotive question, a chatbot may not be best equipped to handle that question. It may also be the preference of the customer to speak to a human. 

While a bot may not have the specialist knowledge or empathy to deal with highly emotive or complex questions, the chatbot can greatly assist the human agent in dealing with those questions. Prior to the question being handed over to a human agent, the chatbot can take as much information as possible from the customer (e.g. customers personal details and nature of enquiry) before handing it over. The human agent then has the information it needs to pick up from where the bot left off and handle the conversation quicker than it would have been able to do without those details.  

6. Tips/advice for customers

With the rising costs of household energy, millions of homeowners and tenants have been forced to find ways to reduce their energy consumption. An AI chatbot can be used to educate households on energy usage and provide tips and tricks on ways to reduce their consumption. 

7. WhatsApp chatbot

With more than 2 billion users and nearly double the number of users of Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp is the most widely used messaging app around the globe. Yet only a small percentage of businesses are currently using the solution to reach their customers. 

One of the key benefits that WhatsApp offers is an improved customer experience. As more business begin to utilise WhatsApp, customers will find themselves being able to do everything seamlessly from under the one roof; from chatting to their friends, or tracking an order, to checking when their rent is due, or even scheduling a repair. No need for customers to download and use multiple apps. 

8. Rental Arrears collection

For customers that are struggling to pay on time, a chatbot can offer a less invasive and more friendly way of collecting payments from the customer than the traditional approaches of hounding them with phone calls and warning letters.

When customers fall into arrears, an SMS could be sent to the customer reminding them of their missed payment. Within the SMS, Housing Associations could place a link to a landing page containing a chatbot, where the user could then be presented with the following greeting:

‘’Hi {name}, it’s your friendly Digital Assistant here. I just wanted to let you know that you recently missed your rental payment of £XXX.XX. I’m here to help you get your account back up to date 😊. If you’re really struggling to pay, then I can put you through to one of my human colleagues who can help you set up a payment arrangement. Please could you let me know what you’d like to do?

  • I’d like to pay now
  • Commit to pay later
  • I’m really struggling to pay and need to speak to someone’’

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