Deeplake works with Social and Private Landlords and Letting Agents, providing solutions for customer communication to improve customer service, and reduce operating costs.
Repairs and Maintenance
Tenant Self Service
SMS named as Strength in Audit Report
Gained efficiency savings in Rents and Repairs
Fortis gained an excellent result in their Audit Commission Inspection following adoption of Deeplake's Communications Manager to assist in tenant engagement and drive effciency gains. The system has been implemented in rent management and repairs and plans are afoot for future expansion of the SMS service.
Rated as 'Two Star with promising prospects' following an inspection by the Audit Commission. In 2009, Prime Minister Gordon Brown congratulated WCH on being one of the first 100 organisations in the country to achieve the government's new Customer Service Excellence (CSE) standard.
WCH uses Deeplake's Communications Manager to communicate with tenants via SMS in a range of areas, including Rent Arrears Management and Repairs and Maintenance.
Craig Garrington of the WCH ICT team commented, "We use SMS text with tenants in several areas including rent arrears to remind tenants of outstanding payments, but also the self-service function which allows tenants to inquire on their rent balances via SMS text, which is regularly used."
The system has improved customer access, and has also helped WCH to gain efficiency savings, by reducing costs in rent collection and repairs.
Craig was closely involved in implementing the Communications Manager system. He said, "We have been very pleased with Deeplake's Communications Manager Software. The product is very reliable, and does exactly what it says on the tin. The product is so easy to configure.
Audit Commission Inspection Boost WCH's adoption of Deeplake's Communication Manager has paid dividends in their services and inspection rating. The National Audit Commission Inspection report for WCH stated: "We found the service to be good because customers can access services in a wide variety of ways and WCH is making good use of modern methods of communication."
Fortis's proactive approach to gaining tenant feedback to improve customer service was also mentioned in the inspection report: "Fortis actively seeks and acts on customer feedback to improve services, and customer satisfaction with services has improved. Use of modern methods of communication widens choice and increases convenience for customers, who can access information and services at a time and place that suits them."
Audit Commission praise use of SMS
Benefits for Tower Block Management
Tenant Self Service
Matthew Phillips - Newlon Housing Trust Deeplake's Communication Manager has enabled Newlon Housing Trust to open up new channels of communication with residents who have historically been hard to reach.
Newlon began using the Deeplake Communications Manager in Spring 2009, and has found it to be an excellent tool for communicating with housing association members who are dispersed over a large metropolitan area.
Following the implementation of Pyramid Messenger powered by Deeplake's Communication Manager, Shian Housing Association have been able to dramatically increase the response to arrears management communications which as a direct result has lead to a reduction in overall rental arrears. Phone calls into the association have also reduced, enabling staff to focus their attention on other areas of their work.
Matthew Phillips, Customer Service Manager at Newlon Housing Trust, explains:"When residents call to book a repair, we send a text message straightaway confirming the appointment time and details. We then send another reminder message the day before the appointment, which gives them the option to cancel the appointment simply by replying to the text message.
"If residents choose to cancel, they get a call-back from one of our staff to reschedule the repair. Using this system we have been able to reduce the number of 'no shows', where our maintenance staff arrive at the appointment to find the residents aren't there. It has helped us to make the repair service more efficient both for our staff and for the residents."
"We manage a number of blocks of flats, and we have used the Deeplake SMS system to send group messages to the residents where there may be 50 calls about the same issue. This reassures tenants that a problem is being dealt with.
"For instance, if a lift wasn't working, we might send a first message alerting them to the problem, and letting them know that we are aware of it. A second message later in the day would inform residents that the engineer was working on the problem., and a third message could be sent once the lift was up and running again."
"We were recently inspected by the Audit Commission and they were very impressed with this use of the Deeplake technology - it's an excellent innovation."
Using SMS messaging has enabled Newlon to reach residents who had experienced difficulties communicating in the past. One resident with hearing difficulties has embraced the new system and has been able to address issues that have been unresolved using old methods of communication.
"It had been very difficult for us to talk to one lady previously - she was using Type Talk to make phone calls, which means that all messages go through an intermediary, and we found that messages would get lost in translation or misunderstood.
"Now that we have introduced the SMS system she's in much more frequent contact!" says Matt. "It's great because we have finally been able to sort out a number of problems for her."
"We're delighted with the Deeplake system," says Matt. "It has enabled us to move away from doing exercises on paper - things like satisfaction surveys - and gives us much better value for money. It has been very popular with the residents because it shows that we are responsive and care about customer service. It's much easier to get messages out to people."
Tenant Self Service
Deeplake is delighted that Christian Action have upgraded to our new V6 release, taking advantage of new Social Media features and digital channels.
Marlon Shaw is head of ICT at Christian Action, a Housing Association founded in 1966 as a local, church-based, response to the need for affordable housing for rent. Today it owns or manages over 1550 properties in four North London boroughs - Enfield, Barnet, Haringey and Waltham Forest.
Marlon recently upgraded to Deeplake's CMGR v6.0 "We are really pleased with version 6 and the Tenant Portal. The support provided when we have had any technical glitches or issues with the Portal has been brilliant."
Marlon was astonished with the turnaround from the initial Deeplake presentation of v6.0 and the tenants' portal to implementation and roll-out. The speed, support and low cost was particularly impressive, along with a really user-friendly platform that was received internally with great enthusiasm.
"I've been in IT for over 40 years and I've never had such a positive experience excellent, really excellent"
Marlon thought the support he received from the team was ‘amazing', with issues being resolved, in some cases, within hours. He felt this helped him keep the momentum behind the initial enthusiasm for v6.0 and enabled an efficient and effective promotion to customers.
Christian Action has been promoting the tenants' portal via newsletter and email to date and have started a staff incentive scheme to increase sign ups. Marlon believes being able to make payments online 24/7 is a real benefit for their customers. They have seen huge benefit in being able to confirm appointments via text and are planning to roll this out for repairs. Marlon is also determined to take on the arrears module to help identify payment trends for early intervention.
London Borough of Barking and Dagenham
18,780 Council Homes
HMS: Capita Academy
Elevate East London (Elevate) was set up in 2010 as a joint venture between the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham (LBBD) and Agilisys, a provider of digital and business solutions.
The partnership, established as a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) involves delivering services through more effective and less costly methods.
Deeplake's Communications Manager (CMGR) was initially selected as the SMS supplier to cut down on paper costs, increase tenant engagement and reduce the number of costly missed appointments - LBBD have approximately 3,600 missed appointments per year, at a cost of £270,000 per year.
They started using CMGR for Arrears Reminders, Balance Requests and Ad-hoc information to tenants, e.g. notification of resident meetings.
The Balance facility is very popular with customers as they are able to get balance information for their rent account at any time of day and without having to call the call centres - which is already at capacity.
In-bound Balance self-service requests alone saves in excess of £2300 per month - not including overhead costs
Tenant participation in events and resident engagement meetings has increased through tailored communication with CMGR
LBBD recently upgraded to CMGR v 6 and are actively looking at ways to increase usage based on the new functionality and features, such as Social Media.
Capita Open Housing
Choice Based Letting
Deeplake's Communication Manager enabled United Welsh to broaden the scope of
tenant communication across a number of departments and make significant savings by
re-engineering their Choice Based Letting Scheme.
United Welsh was established in 1989 in South Wales to provide good quality, affordable social housing. United Welsh manage nearly 4000 properties with a diverse range of tenants old and young with associated support services.
United Welsh is a member of Integrate - a consortium of eight like-minded housing associations in South Wales who have joined forces to offer the best value in development and maintenance services and materials.
United Welsh began using the Deeplake SMS system in November 2006 and found it to be an excellent tool for communicating with residents and non-residents who are dispersed over mixed geographical areas.
Initially, United Welsh introduced the Deeplake SMS system to improve the collection of
rent arrears with new tenants. Tracy Williams Head of Information Systems explains
"We trialled the system initially to help with reducing rent arrears. As soon as a new tenant
fell two weeks in arrears on their rent a text message was sent welcoming them to United
Welsh and advising them of their rent status.
"Reminders would be sent out at regular intervals. When payments were received we would sent a text message thanking them for their payment and confirming their rent balance. The system was also able to let tenants check their rent balance by SMS text. "We find that SMS is a very quick, and inexpensive, method of contact and the messages are more likely to be read and responded to than a letter."
In summer 2007 United Welsh used the Deeplake SMS system to reduce costs in their
Selectahome Choice Based Letting scheme, where the cost of sending printed brochures
to tenants on each new available property was high, and which also created a significant
amount of administration. United Welsh wanted to find a better way to support the
Tracy Williams described the objectives "We wanted to introduce a new way of working that reduced our costs and was more efficient, but filled the voids more quickly and was more convenient for our applicants. We found a combined Web and SMS solution achieved this.
"Before using SMS we would print, stuff and post flyers with the details of all new properties to all on our application list and ask applicants to confirm their interest by post or telephone. These "bids" would be entered into a selection process with the successful tenants being notified by post.
"Using Deeplake's SMS system we would select and send text messages relating to the only those properties an applicant was eligible to apply for . Applicants could reply directly
to "bid" directly via SMS text. The property details were published on our web-site or printed in-house for the small number of tenants who could not access online details. "The new system was very successful with almost half of all bids being returned via SMS text with no administration on our part. Over the initial 12 months of operation we estimate
there was a cost saving of over £55k, which was an immediate return on our investment. "We are continuing to improve and streamline our procedures but this was a great example of what can be achieved with SMS communication."
Tracy was pleased with the help and assistance provided during implementation saying "Deeplake worked well with us in developing in developing out applications on their platform. We are pleased Deeplake's SMS platform has been adopted as the preferred SMS solution with Open Housing as it brings our future support and integration requirements under one roof".
Repairs and Maintenance
Rent and Income Management
Reducing Waiting Lists
Gained efficiency savings in Rents and Repairs
Properties were filled in days when RCT started to use Deeplake's Communication Manager to promote vacant housing to people on waiting lists in nearby regions.
The forward thinking housing association is using the technology in a number of innovative ways, and has a range of future plans to further utilise the system.
RCT Homes is Wales's largest social landlord, with nearly 11,000 homes on more than 60 housing estates and in 27 sheltered housing schemes.
RCT Homes operates a contact centre for tenants to report repairs or make enquiries.
Deeplake's Communication Management system has been implemented to enable tenants to send enquiries via SMS and be assured that they will be dealt with.
"Tenants can text 'CUST' + their query to the contact centre and it will be added to our email queue," explains Alun Dowling, Head of ICT at RCT Homes. "Our customer service staff can deal with the enquiry and send a response to the tenant via SMS or email, or if the query requires discussion or a more complex explanation, they will call them with the information"
RCT Homes manages properties on more than 60 estates, and the popularity of different areas varies. It occasionally occurs that a property will become available in an area with no waiting list for housing.
"We don't want properties standing empty, especially when people are waiting for homes in other areas," says Alun. "We have started sending out SMS alerts about available homes to people who are on waiting lists in other nearby areas. This has been incredibly successful and the properties have been filled within days."
"As a Community Mutual, we want our tenants to become members and become involved in the running of the association," says Alun. "Although we have around 1200 members and are growing all the time, these people tend to be in the older demographic. We wanted a way to engage younger tenants and get them involved."Using Deeplake's Communication Manager we have been running a campaign called 'Word on the Street', to get our younger tenants to connect and become part of the community. We are encouraging them to make a 20-second video on their phone telling us about their neighbourhood, and then text 'WORD' to our team to receive instructions on how to send their ?lm to us. We will judge the videos on 31 August, and give the three best entries the opportunity to make a professional short Im about their area."
"Deeplake's system is great for us as we are driving improvements across the board and it provides a simple way to empower our staff and offer new services to tenants, all in one package."
Capita Open Housing
Howard Cottage was one of the UK's first housing associations. It was set up in 1911 to create affordable homes for workers who had migrated from the cities to take up employment in Letchworth, the world's first Garden City, taking their name from the founder of the movement, Sir Ebenezer Howard.
Current key themes for the organisation include delivering value-for-money services to all residents at all times and continuous improvement.
Housing Manager Allison Blunt deployed Deeplake's CMGR on-site and recently the resident involvement group discussed the value of text reminders for residents ahead of planned maintenance visits.
"We currently use the system to notify of repairs booked and reminder day before to reduce numbers of failed appointments.
We send a text when we send a pre notice of seeking possession letter and another one when we print off the notice. These are particularly useful and very often residents have rung in before they even get the NOSP through the door.
We had a fantastic response when we text to remind residents how to sign up to the residents online account and numbers went up by 20 % overnight.
We use it to advise of things like a change in gas contractor, when our office electricity was out all day so we couldn't take calls, to tell residents about estate walkabouts, etc."
Allison was the only end-user of CMGR but after seeing a demo of CMGR v6 she believed that it could easily be rolled out throughout the organisation.
A lively day ensued as a whole host of applications were discussed gas servicing, adhoc messaging, appointment confirmations, welfare reform measures, rent balance monitoring and mutual exchanges.
CMGR v6 is accessible, flexible, easy-to-use and has a whole host of new features such as exportable reports, arrears trending, mapping, social media, and so on. Allison is now considering the tenants portal and smartphone app as the next step in demonstrating continuous improvement and value for money.
Shian is a community based housing association, established in 1989 to cater for the general housing needs of ethnic minority people in Hackney and neighbouring areas. Shian H.A. originated from a voluntary organisation called Harambee II which provided short term housing, youth training, a community drop-in centre and welfare services for the local community, as well as support for ex-offenders.
Owning and managing over 450 homes, Shian H.A. have founding principles of tenant satisfaction, growth and happiness, all of which were important considerations when selecting and purchasing an integrated SMS solution.
Successfully managing rent arrears has always been a high priority for Shian and the association has always taken a pro-active approach in using the latest technology to aid with this task.
"We found that the majority of our tenants used a mobile phone daily" said Office Manager Karen Lindsay, "therefore, we wanted a solution that would enable us to communicate with them in their preferred communication format".
"Since utilising Pyramid Messenger, we have noticed a significant reduction in the associations outstanding rent arrears, coupled with a large increase in positive responses to arrears management communication" she says. "Tenants are responding better to SMS messages with regards to their arrears and this has allowed our Housing Officers to put plans in place to tackle these arrears, whereas previously we may not have had any response to a letter until a much later stage in our arrears policy".
Karen pointed out "another recent addition to the system which is proving to be a benefit to both tenants and staff, is that Pyramid Messenger automatically sends an SMS message to tenants who have failed to make a payment during the month." She continued "a few of our tenants have thanked us for this service, as it has highlighted problems that may have been caused by their bank or benefit payments. This is also giving us tighter control of rent arrears and lets the tenant know that we are monitoring their accounts more closely".
"Tenants have also benefitted from the ability to get an up to date balance of account, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week without having to call the office during opening times". Karen says "tenants simply text in to the system with the word ‘BAL'. Their mobile phone number is then seamlessly validated and depending on whether the account is pre-paid or in arrears will depend on the message returned. If the account is in arrears, tenants are given the options to either make a payment or discuss their account with their Housing Officer."
Karen continued "not only has this dramatically reduced the number of calls into the association, but it's also opened up new channels of communication with tenants that we have been unable to successfully contact in the past."
"Shian' means ‘home' in the Ghanaian language Ga" says Karen "and it is this we have strived to provide. To us a home is not just bricks and mortar, but somewhere our tenants can identify with, somewhere they can be part of a community. The association often hosts or runs events, whether it's a youth training session or a children's Christmas party and tenant engagement is always key to the success of these events. We have found the use of Pyramid Messenger to inform our residents of times and dates to be very quick, efficient and easy, but most importantly it is not expensive."
Shian H.A. raise approximately 1000 repairs per annum and wanted a fully automated solution to confirm repair appointments with tenants.
Karen explains "When a tenant reports a repair, it's immediately entered into Pyramid, our Housing Management system. Pyramid will then seamlessly initiate a text through Deeplake's Communication Manager that confirms the appointment details, time and date."
Furthermore "Pyramid automatically initiates another text message the day before the appointment is due, to remind the tenant of the appointment. It also gives the tenant the option to reschedule the appointment by simply replying to the text. If a tenant chooses to reschedule, a member of staff will contact the resident to rebook the appointment at another convenient time"
"Using this new system has allowed us to significantly reduce the number of appointments that are not fulfilled by our contractors. It's also improved our overall repairs service to tenants and helped us to become more efficient whilst reducing call out fees"
"We were looking for a solution that would directly integrate with our existing IT infrastructure, specifically Pyramid, our Housing Management system, that was also easy to use and was cost effective" says Karen. "What we have got is all of this, plus a system that has increased our communication with tenants, helped us to improve our rent arrears and directly aided our repairs service. Also we have the added bonus of reducing phone calls into the organisation and freeing up staff time to deal with other matters" "We are constantly looking for other areas where we can use SMS as a mode of communication as it has been so effective for us so far. OmniLedger have been fantastic and have taken many of our ideas and turned them into a reality with Pyramid Messenger."
Now used by Housing Services, Income Officers and the Repairs & Maintence teams, Deeplake's CMGR is used for balance enquiries, repair appointment reminders.
Arrears letter notices and meeting reminders - both resident involvement and board. Also being able to send ad hoc messages means being able to text a block if the lift's broken, or there's a drainage problem or a leaking roof.
Has made their life a lot easier. Leonard is particularly pleased with the increased response rate from their satisfaction surveys which they used to send in the postt - with little success. Just three short text questions has helped limit complaints and the message log presents .
Just three short text questions has helped limit complaints and the message log presents both resident involvement and board.
Is used for balance enquiries, repair appointment reminders, arrears letter notices and meeting reminder.
Due to the partniship between Deeplake and OmniLedger, Westway's housing managerment system supplier, the implication was carried out quickly and easily.
Leonard's now keen to explore the latest version of CMGR with WhatsApp and other social media options to further reduce cost's whilst maintaing good contact with tenants in these challenging times.