In the aftermath of a positive and lavish customer service awards season, it is has come to light that contact centres for social housing organisations are making quite the impact.
Ceremonies where social housing contact centres shone in 2011 included various regional Contact Centre Awards, the European Call Centre and Customer Service Awards, and the Customer Contact Innovation Awards. Housing organisations saw stiff competition from both public sector bodies and private sector companies, including utilities, financial corporations and other industries. With such a diverse range of finalists, social housing contact centres stood out in their categories, at times making up an impressive one fifth of the winners.
Results like this weren’t seen at turn of the millennium. More often than not, housing organisations were flooded with complaints from residents: not only the expected calls about their properties, but also about the customer service they were receiving. It was the private sector shining through at awards again and again, and something had to change.
So what triggered the turnaround? The housing sector decided it was time to focus on the customer, or indeed, the residents. The housing sector exists not only to provide people with affordable living options, but to keep them happy in that accommodation as well. In a mutually beneficial move, an increase in customer service has not only meant happier residents through better advised call centre agents and better organised repairs, but also a financial saving to the housing organisations through the same principles.
Nationwide, groups and organisations within the housing sector have been investing in software systems and solutions to empower agents in their contact centres to deliver a good service. Calls are now dealt with by agents who, if they don’t have a full understanding of the caller’s problem, can be prompted via their computer screens on how to further handle the situations. Actions from the calls can then be efficiently scheduled, leaving happy customers at the end of the call. Such success, as seen with increasing winners at award ceremonies, has sparked interest from other organisations to follow the lead, improve their customer service, and enter awards in their multitudes.
Excellent customer service from the housing sector has emerged over the last decade, and will continue to improve with dedicated agents and evolving software supporting them. Perhaps this is the dawn of an arms race between the housing sector and its competition, where organisations, in both the public and private sector, will be ever increasing their customer service standards to outperform the other. For now, it seems that social housing organisations are taking the lead and certainly setting a standard with their contact centre customer service.