Helena Homes - The housing association that went digital

Going digital

We began working in partnership with Helena Homes in 2013, to develop a channel shift strategy which has revolutionised the way Helena delivers services and interacts with its tenants. The first step in the project, before any development commenced, was to determine the best course of action by looking into the costs, benefits and feasibility of a range of ideas and identifying problems with their existing facilities which may have been holding back the channel shift agenda. We identified the problems and setbacks with the existing facilities through interviewing tenants and analysing data from the CRM system, to determine the most effective strategy for improvement. After studying a sample of 5000 calls to the Helena One Call Team, we concluded that the most popular reasons for contacting the team were: reporting repairs (43% of calls), queries or payments relating to rent (18.3%) and scheduling or checking appointment dates (14.3%); all of which were available, yet overlooked, as online services.

Channel Shift

As part of the planned channel shift from phone to tenant self-service, we worked alongside Helena to improve their overall online presence. This involved creating a responsive, user-friendly website which had a clear focus and was transactional as well as informational. Previously, information had been spread across three different websites, which resulted in duplication of content and confusion for users, however the current website displays all relevant content in a coherent and organised manner. The website directs attention to key online services such as reporting repairs, viewing rent statements and making payments. The website is now responsive (i.e. mobile-friendly and tablet friendly), which is a significant and vital improvement as 50% of visitors were using either mobile or tablet devices to access the website, despite the site's inability to adapt accordingly to facilitate use on these devices. Furthermore, we found that those accessing the website via a mobile or tablet were more likely to be seeking transactional services rather than simply browsing content. After analysing data from our initial research, we discovered that mobile and tablet users were more inclined to utilise online services than alternative methods, however this did not happen in practice due to the limitations of the website’s functionality.

Implementing these changes enhanced the accessibility of the website and succeeded in encouraging the shift to online self-service, as evidenced by the following positive results:

  • 217% increase in tenant logins
  • 154% increase in payment page visits
  • 110% increase in the number of page views compared to the old website
  • 168% increase in tenants viewing their rent statement online
  • 43% increase in tenants viewing their tenancy details online

Repairs System

Once the website and portal had been redesigned, we were able to incorporate an intuitive, easy to use, online repairs system which simplified the process of logging repairs and booking appointments for tenants. This resulted in a substantial overall increase of online activity. In fact, the average time taken to log a repair and book an appointment using the new system is 99 seconds.

Implementing Active Housing’s online repairs diagnostics tool has triggered the intended shift to online self-service, resulting in:

  • 266% increase in repairs reported online
  • 88% of repairs logged online have appointments scheduled at the time of booking. Before the implementation of the new repairs system this was 0% as the facility wasn’t available.
  • 309% increase in customers who started repairs process

Connected Housing Survey 2015

In short, two years on, Helena’s Going Digital strategy has translated into a resounding success for Helena Homes. We continue to work with Helena as digital partners to build on this transformation. Helena’s outstanding success is demonstrated by their performance in soaring from 67th to 8th place in the Connected Housing Survey in 2015.

The success of Helena’s channels shift programme is proof that establishing a purposeful and refined online presence can digitally awaken the social housing sector, allowing it to respond to the evolving demands of the digital world.

"It has been a pleasure to work with Hallnet on the design, development and implementation of a new digital platform for Helena Partnerships. We continue to work with the company to deliver a corporate Channel Shift programme. Hallnet’s main focus and strength is to provide quality over quantity and this was demonstrated throughout the project. I have been particularly impressed with the way Hallnet build strong and solid relationships with customers, and are customer-centric in their approach to any project. As our digital partner, Hallnet have spent time understanding Helena’s business processes and systems in order to develop a fit for purpose solution that fits our needs. I would have no hesitation in recommending Hallnet to anyone."

Nasrin Fazal, Head of Programme Delivery and Digital - Helena Partnerships