AI & Data Science can tell social landlords which tenants are at risk of falling into arrears and how this can be avoided. AI represents a lucrative new avenue to explore previously unearthed insights, giving housing associations the ability to optimise existing processes and tap into the potential new technology offers.
“In a recent survey[ii], nearly 94% of the 70 organisations surveyed are either currently delivering some form of transformation programme or planning to implement one soon. The main drivers for this transformation are seen to be the delivery of efficiencies (61%) and the need to improve the customer experience (53%).” - Colin Sales, Managing Director of 3C Consultants, a specialist IT consulting service providing expertise to the social housing sector.
In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, housing associations are facing unprecedented demand for services and support whilst simultaneously facing higher staff shortages due to the crisis. According to a report by Housemark, landlords built up a repairs backlog of 800,000 jobs during the April peak of the crisis.
AI isn’t all about predictions; simply automating tedious manual tasks can free up time for housing officers to turn their attention to crucial tasks, ensuring optimal customer service levels at a time when it’s most needed. AI customer service platforms can allow tenants to self-report maintenance issues at any time and match them to the fastest and most appropriate solution, minimising logistical challenges.
At a time when tenants are spending an increasing amount of time in their homes, maintenance issues are more likely to occur. This runs the serious risk of issues piling-up creating an overwhelming backlog for your teams to manually resolve. Typically, these issues seldom fall within the nine-to-five and to compound this, tenants can often be unavailable to report these issues within this time-frame due to work commitments. A 24/7 enabled AI platform takes the hassle away from both association and customer, resolving complaints and concerns with minimal fuss.
This is crucial more than ever after gas safety compliance tests were halted, dipping to 91.2% from normal levels of 99.9%. That means that more than 380,000 homes across the UK sector are without a valid gas safety certificate and with lockdowns and fluctuating restrictions, this number can readily increase. Organisations can hire more staff to attempt to remedy backlogs, but this doesn’t represent true value for money, but rather a clutch at straws to preserve the status quo. It’s here, where AI can help.
Whilst AI can help match a customer to a repair or appointment as quickly as possible, it can be just as effective in a more proactive manner. Algorithms prove their worth with their predictive power, utilising data to make accurate predictions on not only customer behaviour but machines too. By training algorithmic models with manufacturer utility data such as boilers and pipes, coupled with service information, models can make accurate predictions for when structural and maintenance issues are likely to occur. These predictions allow you to schedule repairs and servicing to ensure that requests for maintenance repairs never hit your inbox.
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Crucially, as these virtual processes take over the running of routine tasks, they free up time for property managers to turn their attention to more pressing matters that require complex human intervention.
Using a process called Machine Learning, these virtual assistants are able to self-teach best practice the more often they carry out tasks. This is ideal for scaling or migrating solutions to other areas of the business, with models knowing exactly what works perfectly for your company.