The Liquid Voice platform empowers customers to use a wider range of contact channels and makes it easy for them to contact us at any time in the way that is most convenient. It is enhancing the customer experience at every touchpoint.Halton Housing
Formed in December 2005 following the transfer of homes from Halton Borough Council, Halton Housing is a not for profit housing association that manages 6,800 homes across the North West.
With over 280 employees, including 80 specialist tradespeople in its property services team, Halton Housing is focused on delivering the highest level of customer services that improve people’s lives.
In common with the public sector as a whole, Halton Housing wanted to enhance service delivery whilst achieving best value from available budgets and to enable them to focus resources where they are most needed. To achieve this, the organisation has adopted a ‘Digital First’ strategy to encourage customers to switch to digital channels instead of using the telephone or face-to-face for each contact. The decision to adopt this strategy was validated by extensive research which shows that around 85% of customers are able to access the internet using broadband at home or via their smart devices.
The target of the programme is to achieve 90% of customer-led transactions with Halton Housing to be via its digital services by 2018.
Having already developed a number of online portals and a new smartphone app, Halton Housing wanted to upgrade its existing Liquid Voice recording system to provide additional functionality including CTI and IVR-based routing of incoming calls.
As a long-term supplier of interaction recording systems to Halton Housing, Liquid Voice was asked to recommend a suitable solution that would assist in this transformational project. After helping to scope out a solution that was a ‘best fit’ for the digital programme, Liquid Voice installed a new recording platform with advanced CTI and IVR (Interactive Voice Response) functionality. This would allow the identity of customers to be quickly established based on criteria such as telephone number and tenancy details.
Used in conjunction with tenant profiling, inbound calls are now prioritised and dynamically routed to specialist teams to provide relevant advice and guidance on a wide range of issues including repairs, tenancy enquiries, Welfare Reform and debt management. This capability allows Halton Housing to focus on its most vulnerable customers and encourages customers with access to the online services to use these methods as often as possible.
According to Carole Galsworthy, Director of ICT, Business Improvement and Comms at Halton Housing: “The Liquid Voice system is playing a key role in the success of our transformational digital project and helps to provide customers with greater choice regarding the channels used to contact us. It also helps customers to get the help they need from the most appropriate person and has enabled us to focus on those customers who most need our support.”
Customers have enthusiastically embraced the ‘Digital First’ programme and Halton Housing is well on the way to achieving its targets. This is evidenced by the fact that by the end of the first year, 61% of households were already accessing the organisation’s digital services on a regular basis. Reducing the volume of inbound telephone calls has freed up existing staff resources to spend more time supporting vulnerable customers and those that are unable to use these new digital channels. The introduction of a Liquid Voice PCI-DSS compliant IVR-based payment system has further reduced the number of telephone calls into the organisation.
“Switching to digital self-service channels will significantly reduce the average cost per customer transaction in line with the expected increase in the number of transactions over the next three years and help minimise the overall net impact of the introduction of Universal Credit,” added Galsworthy.
Additional service improvements are also starting to be seen through the adoption of a revolutionary, new online direct debit process that makes it quicker and easier for customers to set up regular payments. Developed by Liquid Voice in partnership with Halton Housing, this eliminates the time consuming manual processes traditionally required when setting up direct debit payments by enabling customers to provide all required information online.
The information is then automatically uploaded to the organisation’s Aareon CRM system and Docuware document management system. Staff are automatically alerted when direct debits are set up in this way enabling them to complete the process.
Liquid Voice has designed the system to deliver full end-to-end automation through integration with direct debit providers using their APIs (application programming interfaces). Whilst Halton Housing is not currently using this additional capability, it will enable all information to be automatically sent straight to direct debit providers for further validation checks before final authorisation is given to set up the direct debits.
Since the start of the programme, whilst access to the internet has increased in line with national trends, around 15% of the Halton Housing’s customers are still unable to get online. Halton Housing continues to pro-actively help vulnerable customers, identified using extensive in depth data collection and analysis. It has set up a specialist support team responsible for a targeted roll out of tablet computers to qualifying customers, including a £5 per month SIM card with 1GB of data usage. To date, over 200 tablets have been distributed enabling users to derive other social, health and economic benefits available from having access to the internet.