Increased collection rate
BITMO (Belle Isle Tenant Management Organisation) manages around 1850 properties in the Belle Isle suburb of inner-city Leeds. The specialist income team comprises six members, including two financial inclusion officers and four income officers utilising Voicescape’s Collections solution to engage tenants around their debt and enhance daily operations. Interestingly, BITMO is a Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) which is an organisation set up by tenants to manage some or all of the tenant management tasks on behalf of the council, —a more prevalent practice in the south of the country, but relatively rare up north. The key impact of this is that tenants’ needs are always at the forefront of decision-making.
BITMO faces a challenging paradox—balancing resident wellbeing and expectations amidst continuous budget cuts and a 2023 rent increase of 7%. Complicating matters further, the Belle Isle suburb contends with high levels of worklessness and higher than average rates of ill health, resulting in increased financial hardship and unpredictable income streams for tenants. And with universal credit benefit increases having only recently aligned with real-time earnings, people’s struggles during the cost-of-living crisis have intensified. All these challenges are what a modest-sized BITMO team are contending with in collecting rent arrears.
The Collections solution has been part of BITMO's toolkit for four years and use of it gained traction three years ago, with a change in manager. Noteworthy adjustments include updating scripts with recognisable voices from staff members to foster trust and recognition in voice notes and phone calls to drive engagement. Furthermore, the flexibility in how Collections can be used, such as frequency per week and volume of calls, allows income managers to tailor the technology to the team's needs, accommodating for periods of absence, for instance. Voicescape Collections has emerged as an invaluable and innate tool, facilitating quicker and more efficient target achievement.
Voicescape Collections serves as a catalyst for successful phone connections, significantly increasing the number of meaningful conversations. Response rates from voice notes have reached an impressive 51%, remaining stable around the 40% mark. This positive trend is reflected in BITMO's ascent on Leeds Council’s collections league table of 22 housing offices — from 13th place to consistently securing one of the top 3 positions since Christmas 2022. The collection rate is gaining recognition, even from neighbouring housing offices with less turnover of tenancies and more stable tenant bases across Leeds, that cover more affluent areas.
Beyond the quantitative achievements, the Voicescape tool has uncovered added benefits to tenants through more conversations, such as promoting their warm space offering, pay-as-you-feel meals, and weekend social events for families. Voicescape acts as a conduit for communication, allowing BITMO to inform tenants about these additional benefits or uncover other issues tenants may be facing. This is something that the team are proud of offering.
“Since we really started to embrace Voicescape Collections a few years ago, we have seen a real impact on tenant engagement and the arrears rate. Our team has adopted the system with ease and it complements our day jobs, helping us through times of absence so that we don’t miss any KPIs.”
Stephen Oldham, Income & Tenancy Manager at BITMO
This transformation journey has not only enabled BITMO to meet procedural milestones and KPIs with fewer resources but has also contributed to increasing collection rates from 95.66% (Mar 2020) to 96.4% (Nov 2023) which is a cash saving of £59k, showcasing the organisation's accomplishments despite its smaller size. The BITMO case exemplifies how strategic technology implementation that is embraced by income teams can lead to significant positive outcomes, even for smaller organisations with limited resources.
BITMO’s journey with Voicescape Collections doesn’t end there, as they are pushing forward with trying new and innovative ways to use the solution. The next step is to refresh scripts that reflect behavioural insights best practice in particular tenant situations, which may resonate with them more as challenges change, driving further engagement. If you want to learn more about the ways Collections could positively impact your organisation, then get in touch with us today!