The world is evolving at an unprecedented pace, and the social housing sector is no exception. As we look ahead to the next 3 to 5 years, social housing providers must understand the changing landscape and adapt to the needs and expectations of the future customer. In this blog post, we will explore the key findings from the “Customer of the Future” report and discuss how technology can play a pivotal role in meeting these evolving demands.
According to the report titled ” Understanding the Customer of the Future in Social Housing,” conducted by Service Insights Ltd on behalf of six housing associations, the future customer in social housing will be more diverse, ranging from the most vulnerable to those who traditionally have had housing choices. Activism, hardship, and poverty will be prevalent characteristics among these customers. This diversity highlights the importance of social housing organisations in catering to a wide range of needs and expectations.
One of the key findings of the report is that the future customer will have higher expectations for the quality of services and homes provided. In an era where information is readily accessible and customers have a platform to voice their opinions, social housing organisations must strive to meet these expectations. The future customer will be more willing to publicly challenge organisations when standards are not met, necessitating a focus on continuous improvement and accountability.
The “Customer of the Future” report concludes that social housing providers must evolve in the next 3 to 5 years by better understanding customer needs, demonstrating practical changes, improving homes through technology, evolving organisational culture, and striking a balance between private and public sector practices. To achieve these goals, organizations should consider the following trends:
As the social housing landscape evolves, organisations must stay attuned to the emerging trends that will shape the future customer experience. This research delves into the expectations and demands of the customer of the future in the social housing sector, providing valuable insights for organisations looking to adapt and thrive in the next 3 to 5 years.
Hybrid Working: Embracing Flexibility and Collaboration
One of the key trends impacting the social housing sector is the rise of hybrid working. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of flexible work arrangements, necessitating a reimagining of how organisations operate. By combining on-site and remote work models, housing providers can create a more agile workforce and foster collaboration among employees. This shift towards hybrid working not only enhances employee productivity but also enables organisations to respond effectively to customer needs in a rapidly changing environment.
Contact-Free Customer Experience: Meeting Evolving Expectations
The future customer of social housing has higher expectations for service quality and is willing to publicly challenge organisations when standards are not met. Contact-free customer experiences have gained prominence, driven by the preference for online service delivery and the need for convenience. To meet these evolving expectations, social housing organisations must redesign their systems and customer journeys, leveraging automation, self-service options, and digital channels. By providing seamless and contact-free interactions, organisations can enhance customer satisfaction and build trust.
Management of Talent: Adapting to Changing Skill Requirements
The digital revolution and the growing emphasis on technology in service operations have led to a shift in talent requirements. Automation and self-service technologies have reduced the need for transactional tasks, while specialised skills in areas such as technology, customer experience design, and data analytics have become increasingly valuable. To address this change, social housing organisations must invest in talent management strategies that attract and retain individuals with the necessary skills. By fostering a culture of continuous learning and offering training opportunities, organisations can ensure their workforce is equipped to meet the evolving demands of the customer of the future.
Aligning with the Customer of the Future: Strategies for Success
To successfully navigate the changing landscape and align with the expectations outlined in the Customer of the Future report, social housing organisations should consider the following strategies:
- Embrace Technological Advancements: Technology will play a pivotal role in meeting customer expectations and driving operational efficiency. Organisations should invest in digital tools and platforms that enable automation, data analytics, and predictive capabilities. This will facilitate faster response times, personalised service delivery, and improved overall customer experiences.
- Foster Collaboration and Innovation: Collaboration among employees, customers, and stakeholders is essential for fostering innovation and driving positive change. Social housing organisations can create platforms and initiatives that encourage idea-sharing, co-creation, and feedback loops. By involving diverse perspectives, organisations can develop innovative solutions that address the evolving needs of the customer of the future.
- Prioritise Customer-Centricity: The customer of the future expects social housing organisations to better understand their needs and expectations. Organisations should invest in customer research, data analytics, and feedback mechanisms to gain valuable insights. By tailoring services and housing solutions to meet individual needs, organisations can enhance customer satisfaction and build long-term relationships.
- Invest in Talent Development: To meet evolving skill requirements, organisations should invest in talent development programs. This includes providing training opportunities, encouraging continuous learning, and fostering a supportive environment that enables employees to acquire new skills. By developing a workforce that is adaptable and equipped with the necessary skills, social housing organisations can thrive in a rapidly changing landscape.
- Embrace Continuous Improvement: Social housing organisations should strive for ongoing improvement by actively seeking feedback, measuring performance metrics, and implementing iterative changes. This includes leveraging technology to streamline processes, enhance service delivery, and drive organisational efficiencies. By demonstrating a commitment to continuous improvement, organisations can establish themselves as leaders in the sector.
In conclusion, the future of social housing lies in aligning with the expectations of the customer of the future. By embracing hybrid working models, prioritising contact-free customer experiences, and adapting talent management strategies, organisations can position themselves for success. Through the adoption of technological advancements, fostering collaboration and innovation, prioritising customer-centricity, and embracing continuous improvement, social housing organisations can create a customer experience that meets the evolving needs and expectations of the future customer. This proactive approach will not only enhance customer satisfaction but also drive organisational growth and resilience in the years to come.