We recently launched a survey with Inside Housing to understand how far along social landlords are in their digital transformation plans. The social housing sector over the years has faced increasing pressures—be it social, economic or political. Several investigations into social housing failures have also increased the pressure on social landlords to do more to listen to their tenants’ voices. The lack of physical contact during the pandemic exacerbated the pressures even more, catapulting adoption of digital solutions across the housing sector.
Digital technology presents an opportunity for many social landlords to engage with residents in an efficient and effective way. For many, it’s proving to be quick win solution and a necessary step for improving resident experience and enhancing communication. However, it’s important that these transformation plans continue and that we don’t go back to the pre-pandemic old ways.
We wanted to understand the reality of where social landlords are in their digital transformation plans, their priorities as well as the opportunities and challenges ahead.
An increase in digital adoption
Inside Housing in association with Futr, surveyed 140 organisations, with 54% of those being housing associations, 28% councils and 7% ALMOs. The survey results were encouraging, showing a really positive trend towards digital adoption with the housing sector looking to increase choice for residents in how they communicate with their landlord.
When we asked whether their organisation had a clear digital transformation strategy in place, 40% of respondents said they already had a strategy in place while 50% were either developing one or had one but were yet to implement it. 32% of respondents said that digital transformation is a top priority and 65% said that their leadership team is 100% committed to driving digital transformation forward and believe it is key to their organisation’s development.
Improving choice and engagement
What’s interesting from the results is that although 90% of respondents said that tenant choice was very important in how they get in touch with their landlord out of hours, nearly 70% relied on email for out-of-hour, non-emergencies while 4% had no option at all.
It may then come as no surprise that, 41% believe improving tenant engagement will bring a quick win to their organisation, while 25% of respondents believe that enhancing resident communication will.
Social landlords are looking at ways in which they can improve tenant engagement and communication and the survey results show that social media could play a big role in improving that. 66% of respondents said that they plan to promote social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp as routes to engage with tenants. This is a really encouraging step because as well as increasing choice for residents, social channels could help improve accessibility by enabling social landlords to engage with residents in the messaging apps that they are already using.
Barriers for digital transformation
Although there is a desire to move towards better digital adoption, there are some barriers that are holding social landlords back in their digital transformation plans.
According to 53% of respondents, the main barrier is the lack of digital skills or resource while over 48% said that the lack of good quality data is a barrier.
Technology has come a long way and the right solutions could help social landlords overcome some of these barriers. In the absence of digital skills and resource, intuitive technology can help overcome this barrier. With Futr’s chatbot for example, deploying it doesn’t require extensive digital skills and you could go live overnight if you wanted to. It is this plug and play nature of the technology which makes it a quick win solution for many social landlords.
Good quality data from such technology can also help uncover valuable insight on what residents are asking, which can be extremely useful in developing strategies for improving engagement with residents.
Learn more about digital transformation in housing
Social landlords are using chatbot technology to help achieve their digital transformation goals. Download our eBook: The ultimate guide to chatbots in social housing, to find out how Futr’s chatbot is helping social landlords to listen to their tenants’ voice.