“You’ve got to start with customer engagement and work back toward the technology, not the other way around.” -Steve Jobs Apple.
As more and more organisations attempt channel shift, having high customer engagement becomes crucial. Martin Cutbill a director from Alertacall, the organisation that provides the Housing Proactive housing management system, shared his insights on how to identify the eight main barriers in digital engagement and how to effectively overcome them.
Firstly, he stated that the ideal scenario for creating high engagement with high satisfaction is ideally to adopt a “nudge messaging’ and prompting approach with customers as opposed to closing down contact channels and forcing people to interact digitally like the banks have done”
Given that most associations espouse exceptional customer service, Martin went onto explain what he believes are the eight key challenges of digital adoption.
1. Ensuring Residents Having Suitable Devices
“In 2019, about 80% of the adult UK population had a smart device”, Martin said. But what to do with the remaining 20%?
As Martin highlighted, “we’d be ensuring residents have suitable devices and they are using them for ‘transactional interactions’.”
In a study involving over 200 social housing professionals, the results revealed the major barrier in their organisations was giving people a suitable device. Source: Alertacall 2020
2. The Lack of Broadband or Internet Access
“There are about 7% of homes in the UK that do not have internet access”, Martin said. He pointed out that this small percentage is more likely to be from the socio-economic group that benefits from social housing.
The solution he believes is to assist in providing access. In the case of his company, Alertacall, they already provide such a service through a device. These self-contained digital units are non-Wi-Fi dependent, as they all include a SIM card, as well.
3. The prohibitive costs of Funding Digital Devices for Residents
The prohibitive cost of funding digital devices is a risky financial investment but it is worthy in the long-term. Strategically speaking, that initial investment on interactive touchscreen solutions is going to be beneficial.
4. Problems when Downloading/Installing and Bookmarking Content.
One of the issues is having access to the right website/apps. Downloading issues can be solved if apps/associations portal etc are preload advance, just like AlertaCall’s devices are already doing. Some providers, like Alertacall, already provide devices as part of their service.
5. Not Accessing the Website or Application
Having the right app, website address and accessing can be a real challenge for the elderly and those at high risk. Another strategy is to have the company’s app up and running on the device’s homepage, to be ready to use.
6. Prompting to Engage
Why is a good idea for customers to use the devices to have access to the app/website? “Because it generates ideal ‘high levels of usage'”, comments Martin.
7. Digital engagement can increase the risk of feeling isolated
“We should aim to solve one problem without creating a new one”, shared Martin. For that reason, AlertaCall is actively using his call centre team for those wanting contact.
We shouldn’t underestimate how preventing social isolation in the elderly groups has a major impact on companies’ engagement levels
8. User-Friendly Interfaces
As Martin said, “this is ‘potential significant issue'”. Simplicity matters. Easy-to-use interfaces and services are of paramount importance and can also help to raise clients satisfaction levels.
A Proactive Action Plan
Focusing on increasing digital engagement offers huge benefits. However, digital inclusion goes beyond simply having an app/portal. We’ll need to aim for:
- Suitable devices
Also, higher needs groups at risk of social isolation will need an integrated solution, which does not replace human contact. We’ll need to also consider how to integrate and fast track higher levels of engagement.
For more information on how AlertaCall is delivering enhanced housing management during the pandemic, https://www.alertacall.com/services/housing/
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