"Voicescape's Caseload Manager has significantly transformed our operational efficiency."
Greatwell Homes formed as a social landlord in 2007 after transferring stock from Wellingborough Borough Council. Managing 5,200 properties, primarily in Northamptonshire, they are a key housing provider, dealing with two local authorities: North Northamptonshire and West Northamptonshire councils. Described as "hyperlocal", they maintain a robust local presence in various neighbourhoods and communities, providing a variety of low-cost social rented homes including, shared ownership, market rent, and independent living for older customers. With a focus on two tenancy management teams—neighbourhood tenancy management and income recovery—Greatwell Homes serves a diverse range of communities, from the more deprived urban areas to affluent rural ones.
The organisation is deeply committed to digital transformation, particularly when such initiatives yield positive outcomes for tenants. With a strategic appetite for innovation, Greatwell Homes is dedicated to leveraging digital advancements to enhance overall tenant experiences and outcomes.
Welfare Reform and Income Recovery
A key challenge faced by Greatwell Homes was the impact of welfare reform, specifically the transition from housing benefit to Universal Credit. This shift introduced uncertainty regarding rent payments, requiring increased effort from the income recovery team to engage customers and secure payments. With the rollout of Universal Credit in 2019, Chris Holloway, Executive Director, needed to find an effective solution to cope with the rising workload and uncertainties.
The Cost-Of-Living Crisis and the Arrears Target
During the challenging cost-of-living crisis, there was a significant decline in household income and living standards across the nation, marking a situation unprecedented in a generation. In contrast to counterparts grappling with escalating arrears, Greatwell Homes proactively endeavoured to withstand economic challenges and navigated these financial pressures. Establishing a target to keep arrears under 3%, equivalent to approximately £793,417.29 of the rent revenue, the organisation strategically implemented effective solutions. These initiatives showcased the resilience of Greatwell Homes in supporting its tenants.
Continue reading to explore the details of their successful approach...
Voicescape's Caseload Manager Selection
Chris Holloway explored two options to help the organisation meet its challenges: increasing staff capacity or investing in software solutions. Having positive experiences with Voicescape's Collections solution, which provided customer engagement for income recovery and consistency during staff absences, Greatwell Homes already trusted the effectiveness of Voicescape solutions. They conducted soft market testing, considering various products, and found confidence in Voicescape's Caseload Manager. The decision was further influenced by Caseload Manager's Machine Learning, AI capabilities, and built-in behavioural insights and encouraging results for other landlords.
During the implementation period, the onboarding process proved to be a pivotal phase for Greatwell Homes. Despite the inherent risks associated with adopting a new solution as early adopters and transitioning away from a dominant legacy system in the sector, the organisation found tremendous value in the experience.
The implementation meetings with Voicescape's technical and customer success teams were characterised by openness and honesty. Meeting weekly allowed for a proactive approach to address any teething issues promptly. Remarkably, the responsiveness to queries and concerns was exceptionally high, with resolutions often implemented the very next day. This level of responsiveness, combined with the pre-existing reputation established through the Collections solution, instilled confidence in Greatwell Homes.
The tangible benefits extended beyond the immediate problem-solving capabilities. The ongoing relationship between Voicescape and Greatwell Homes was marked by a commitment to value-added, non-tangible benefits. The organisation appreciated the depth of this relationship, emphasising the importance of trust and responsiveness in ensuring that details were promptly addressed, contributing to a successful onboarding experience.
Daily Processing of Rent Arrears Data
Caseload Manager's Machine Learning and daily data processing were regarded as particularly powerful. The continual data refresh and daily updates allowed for the latest information on customer payments, addressing the challenge posed by Universal Credit payments taking place at different cadences. Additionally, Caseload Manager's ability to automate communications within the system helped mitigate GDPR risks, providing a secure environment for customer engagement.
With the previous legacy solution, Greatwell Homes encountered an issue of receiving over-recommendations, they observed that the product had not undergone development or investment for an extended period, and it proved to be considerably more expensive compared to Voicescape’s Caseload Manager.
What is Caseload Manager?
Caseload Manager utilises Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), behavioural insights and data science to intelligently predict individual cases' risk factors for social landlords. Since its inception in April 2022, the cutting-edge technology has been adopted by many registered housing providers as their main income analytics and engagement platform. By processing data and automating interventions, Caseload Manager streamlines caseload management, allowing housing associations to optimise outcomes for both them and residents. The system efficiently prioritises interventions, deciding on actions like automated engagement or manual intervention, thus reducing the generation of rent arrears caseload overall and of cases requiring manual intervention from officers, allowing for them to focus on cases that require higher intensity support.
Seamlessly integrating with existing collections technology, the solution enhances officers' efficiency, enabling them to focus on tenants most likely to benefit from personalised manual interventions.
Performance and Mitigating Risks
For Greatwell Homes, Caseload Manager played a crucial role in maintaining arrears at pre-crisis levels during the cost-of-living crisis, showcasing its resilience and effectiveness. It provided a buffer during staff absences, avoiding the need for costly agency staff. The solution's automation capabilities enabled strategic decision-making, and the dashboards provided clear insights into performance at both operational and executive levels.
Building Trust and Meeting Customer Expectations
Caseload Manager enhanced the trust between Greatwell Homes and its tenants. The system's reliability and ability to provide relevant and timely information aligned with customer expectations set by their everyday experience of customer service in the private sector. Staff confidence in the system translated into more meaningful, solution-focused conversations with tenants, strengthening the overall relationship.
Future Development and Recommendations
Greatwell Homes sees potential for Voicescape’s AI and ML capabilities beyond income recovery, considering its integration into other areas, such as compliance. Chris Holloway encourages other organisations in the social housing sector to explore the benefits of AI and ML, emphasising the positive impact on service levels and customer satisfaction.
"Voicescape's Caseload Manager has significantly transformed our operational efficiency. As an executive overseeing the strategic landscape, I now receive comprehensive weekly reports on our arrears performance, enabling a nuanced view of both high-level and operational insights. The ability to audit each tenancy as a snapshot of the account has proven invaluable, especially during downtime of our [Orchard MRI] housing management system. Caseload Manager seamlessly steps in, allowing us to maintain customer contact. This level of detail and adaptability has truly elevated our tenant management capabilities."
Chris Holloway, Executive Director.
Partnership with Voicescape
The partnership with Voicescape was built on trust, transparency, and responsiveness. Weekly implementation meetings ensured a smooth transition, addressing concerns promptly. The relationship goes beyond a client-contractor dynamic, with Greatwell Homes enjoying the collaborative approach, even influencing the development roadmap at Voicescape's annual customer conference.
"I’m happy to endorse Caseload Manager; it's not just a good product, but one that has delivered remarkable benefits for us. I genuinely believe in its potential to elevate services to unprecedented heights through the integration of Machine Learning and AI. Encouraging fellow organisations to explore this innovative tool is a no-brainer. Embracing Caseload Manager is a strategic move toward excellence, and I am eager to be at the forefront of this transformative technology. I want nothing but the best for our customers, and this solution is a key component in achieving that goal. I encourage others in the social housing sector to join us in embracing the future of intelligent arrears management."
Chris Holloway, Executive Director.
Voicescape's Caseload Manager has proved to be an invaluable solution for Greatwell Homes, addressing the challenges posed by welfare reform, maintaining performance during economic crises, and fostering trust with tenants. This case study serves as a testament to the power of innovative technology in the social housing sector, if you'd like anymore information on how we can help your housing association then click the button below!