Case Study: Thirteen
Thirteen is a social landlord based in the North East of England, with around 33,000 properties.
Collection Rate: 100%
Arrears Reduction: Reduced arrears by over £400,000 in the first year
Thirteen was formed through an amalgamation of four housing organisations, at that time, just one of which was using RentSense. Thirteen introduced a new integrated Housing Management System (HMS) and considered using it as an alternative option to RentSense as Director of Neighbourhoods at Thirteen, Kay Glew explains.
“We did try to see if the new HMS would produce an accurate workload. After testing we realised without RentSense we would lose important functionality, so we made the decision to further invest in RentSense.”
RentSense also helped their staff deliver a substantial reduction in arrears as they fell by £400,000 in the first year of use across the group.
At the beginning of 2018 Thirteen also changed their customer service model, switching from specialist departments and officers to generic neighbourhood coordinators.
“Feedback from customers told us they thought they had to deal with too many different people and departments. The business also shared this view, and there was a real focus on further improving customer experience and satisfaction,” explains Kay.
The decision was made that a neighbourhood coordinator approach would help with this customer centric culture, with coordinators managing every matter involving each tenancy, leading to a more joined up approach.
RentSense helps support the customer centric ethos as it enables landlords to put the customer first. It reduces colleague caseload, presenting just the cases that need action at their earliest stages, so organisations can support and serve customers at the most appropriate times.
“RentSense has helped with the transition to the new operating model. It frees up time, so our Neighbourhood Coordinators can spend time out and about in their neighbourhoods. We also identify debt quicker and we can intervene earlier and have a conversation with the customers and offer that support, building those relationships.” comments Kay.
Not only are Thirteen benefitting from having the software, but the service is also a key element, as Director of Finance (Transactions and Planning), John Wright explains.
“The relationship with Mobysoft is great. We have regular meetings and get quick responses to any queries. Others have also commented on this, and the user group session staff have recently been to was really beneficial. Overall it’s a great customer experience.”
Helping with Customer Service strategically and operationally
RentSense has helped Thirteen take a more proactive approach to collecting income as well, as Kay explains.
“The biggest element of delivering customer satisfaction is helping someone in a difficult situation, whether that’s a crisis or getting a new property. RentSense helps us intervene and help customers out of debt, and out of the worry and stress that entails. But by doing that it also gives staff a huge amount of satisfaction.”
“It flags the cases at the earliest opportunity,” comments Neighbourhood Coordinator, Ali Kirby. “If someone’s DD or Standing Order has bounced, we know straight away. When we call the customer, most of the time they just don’t know, and they say, ‘I’m so glad you’ve phoned.’”
“It’s the same with rent accounts that RentSense categorises where housing benefit has stopped being paid, we contact the customer and have the conversation with them. Quite often customers are not even aware their housing benefit has reduced or stopped. So, we can get the account back on track, it’s a win-win really for us and the customer,” comments Nikki Walton, a Neighbourhood Coordinator at Thirteen.
Like other social landlords, Universal Credit is seen as a risk to revenue within Thirteen. However, their hands on and supportive approach has thus far minimised the impact. They intensively support and coach their tenants through the process to ensure claims are both accurate and made on time.
“RentSense helps identify UC cases straight away. This means our UC team can support those tenants impacted,” states Kay.
Like many large organisations data insight is critical for identifying overall and individual performance. For Thirteen the reporting elements of RentSense offer a much-needed overview across the team.
“RentSense is a great reporting tool. It picks up cases not actioned, and as a manager you need to know which accounts have not been touched. The reporting suite for managers gives them all the information they need at a touch of button.”
RentSense also enables a team approach and cultivates a culture of staff helping one another, as they can see and action one another’s workloads.
“The fact that users can access colleagues’ caseload ensures that our Neighbourhood Coordinators regularly complete 100% of their caseload,” states Kay.
“It’s great. We dip into one another’s work when they are on leave. It just means you don’t have the stress or anxiety of coming back to an unmanageable workload, as it has been done for you,” highlights Ali.
As with all landlords Thirteen’s key priority is sustaining their tenancies and supporting their customers.
“The model in place is there to sustain tenancies, the customers know their neighbourhood coordinator and staff can now spend the right time with the right people, and RentSense has certainly been a contributory factor to us sustaining tenancies,” comments Kay.
When asked if they would recommend RentSense to other social landlords both and Kay and John are unequivocal in their responses.
“Yes, I would recommend RentSense. It avoids waste so you have time to speak to individual customers. It ensures you target resources in the right way,” explains Kay.
“We would not be able to manage our debt without RentSense. Also, Mobysoft are always looking to develop the product and the level of service is excellent. RentSense is able to adapt to our business and needs, and it is very flexible as it is able to link across other systems,” comments John.
“RentSense just shows the accounts I need to look at. You don’t see cases you don’t need to action and you don’t get missed cases. In the past we were given lots of cases that did not need action, and cases got missed too. So, when you called tenants to ‘say you are four weeks in arrears’, tenants would be upset and angry and ask, ‘Why haven’t you notified me sooner?’ With RentSense you don’t get that. It just makes our job much easier,” explains Ali.
Both strategically and operationally RentSense has helped Thirteen put their customers first and give them that time to focus resource. What’s more Thirteen’s new operating model is already paying dividends with customer satisfaction scores improving along with performance.