Automated Communication for the Digital Housing Provider

Alex Brodholt, Marketing, Switchee

With communication becoming a larger and larger part of housing providers daily lives, automating unnecessary communications is becoming more and more important.

Not all communication requires bespoke messages – especially when so many of the daily messages, letters and phone calls are relaying the same information over and over. Utilising modern automation platforms can be a scalable solution to a lot of these issues. They allow teams to automate daily tasks with a degree of personalisation, giving you time to focus on personalising one-to-one advice and helping solve emergency resident issues. This can be achieved in several different ways – but we’ve gone through the three most popular automation methods below.

Email Automation

With email being such a large channel for modern communication, it is no wonder there has been an explosion in modern email automation software designed to give you optimal control over the messages you are sending. The three most popular are Oracle’s Eloqua, Campaign Monitor and MailChimp. All three platforms have their pros and cons but selecting the right platform usually revolves around your specific technology stack, the features you are interested in utilising and the cost of the software. All three, however, allow you to automate standard email communications based on rules you set. For example, if you wish to gather feedback after every maintenance visit, you can have an automatic email sent when your property management system registers a visit has taken place. This can extend to common troubleshooting tips – freeing up troubleshooting time for more complicated and less common problems.

Email is still one of the most prevalent communication channels in the world – so automating some of those communications will save a lot of time.

Text-based appointment scheduling

Utilising text as a means of scheduling and confirming appointments can significantly increase conversion rates. Text messages do not require an immediate response – helping to improve the communication rates of people without access to their phones during the workday. It also allows residents time to check their availability thereby reducing the number of double-booked appointments. Text messaging also allows for mass-automation and automated follow-up. Where ringing a resident requires time, automatic texting does not. The most utilised text scheduling goes as follows:

  • A resident receives a text requesting an appointment either on a specific day or with two to three options
  • If the resident responds, they receive a confirmation text with further details sent immediately upon their confirmation. They will also receive two follow-up texts – one a week before and another the day before. After the visit, they might also get a text-based survey request
  • If the resident does not respond, they are sent follow-up texts at regular intervals and then are given alternative options to schedule a visit.

Automated surveys through IoT devices

For you to improve your customer service you first need to understand where you are going wrong. On a small scale, this might not be a challenge as direct accountability ensures mistakes are corrected on an individual level. This begins to break down at scale, however, because multiple people are often involved in a single interaction, for example, a repair order. Ensuring surveys happen regularly and that progress is tracked impartially and objectively helps to praise good interactions and learn from bad ones. Gathering surveys through in-home IoT devices is the best of both worlds. The device is already in the home which ensures deliverability and the form of communication is minimally intrusive. Ensuring residents feel comfortable giving genuine feedback is also important and is achieved by the anonymous nature of an IoT device. Switchee provides housing providers with an instantaneous communication channel directly into resident’s homes with a built-in survey function. This allows you to administer portfolio-wide surveys and ensures on-going accuracy in results. This allows you to focus on improving on areas the survey has flagged up, and not on the accuracy of the data itself.

Automation saves time

Utilising automation efficiently ensures residents get better customer service whilst freeing up time to focus on more complicated tasks. Ultimately the channel you chose to automate is dependent on the organisation that you work for but automation at scale is always a good idea. This is especially true for organisations looking to further delve into the digital world.


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