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    Formed through the integration of five organisations in 2018, Onward Homes is one of the largest housing associations in the North-West underpinned by a commitment to deliver an excellent customer service by listening and getting the basics right. Their commitment to elevating customer engagement, naturally fostered a robust and productive collaboration with Voicescape. This longstanding partnership has been integral to the development and refinement of innovative solutions within the housing sector.

    Meeting Increasing Service Demand Through Technological Advancements

    In response to heightened external demands, Onward Homes recognises the necessity for refined and intelligent engagement on a larger scale. The surge in customers facing economic challenges, increasing debt levels, and a rise in rent arrears over recent years underscores the greater need for high-quality services. To meet this demand, Onward is proactively embracing automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to create capacity within the team, allowing for more meaningful and responsive engagement with customers, ensuring they feel supported by their landlord in times of need.

    "Embracing automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning enables Onward Homes to efficiently engage with a larger volume of customers, fostering more meaningful interactions compared to manual processes."

    Helen Bruce, Customer Accounts Manager

    Onward Homes and Voicescape have been working closely for many years, co-developing and refining solutions, with a particular focus on tenant engagement for rent collection. This collaboration has been pivotal in shaping the platform's trajectory. The initial discussions revolved around addressing Onward's concerns and aligning the solution with their objectives.

    Part of the strategy involved integrating Voicescape's behavioural insights, data science and nudge theory dynamics. This strategic approach aimed to enhance the effectiveness of tenant engagement, a critical factor in addressing Onward's challenges. Read on to learn how…

    Breaking New Ground with AI, ML Through Caseload Manager.

    The introduction of Caseload Manager, an advanced income analytics and automated engagement solution, marked a significant milestone in the ongoing collaboration with Voicescape and the social housing sector. Launched in 2021, this ground-breaking platform, rooted in the widely shared vision of delivering efficiency, reducing manual processes and improving outcomes, builds upon the successful arrears collection framework established by Voicescape.

    Onward Homes, with its commitment to using technology to improve outcomes for customers, played a pivotal role in adopting this transformative solution. The collaboration reflects a forward-thinking culture, leveraging AI and ML technologies to enhance tenant engagement and streamline income collection processes.

    “Onward’s commitment to innovation and leveraging cutting-edge technologies is integral to enhancing performance and elevating customer engagement. In early 2023, recognising the transformative potential, we decided to adopt Caseload Manager, foreseeing its substantial value. By consolidating arrears analytics and engagement within this single solution, we aimed, not only to streamline performance management, but also to implement strategic team changes, aligning with our comprehensive plan to execute the income strategy successfully. This move signifies our dedication to staying at the forefront of technology for improved outcomes."

    Rob Davies Head of Customer Accounts & Money Advice

    From Collections to Caseload Manager.

    The journey from Collections, Voicescape’s automated engagement solution, to Caseload Manager reflects a nuanced messaging strategy evolving into a sophisticated AI-driven approach. The impact on Specialists is notable, emphasising usability, accuracy, and prompting meaningful conversations with customers.

    Results So Far Are Very Positive

    Caseload Manager, consolidating arrears analytics and engagement, surpassed expectations, providing Onward Homes with a unified platform. The solution has aligned seamlessly with Onward's "Digital Onward" strategy, enabling greater efficiency and stabilising income collection during July and December 2023 when severe economic challenges to customers would otherwise have seen an increase in arrears.

    Onward’s arrears performance during this period has bucked the sector trend and has remained steady in a very challenging economic environment – where there is increasing levels of debt for many. Caseload Manager has connected the team with the right customers, and the automation has provided excellent engagement levels to ensure that Onward’s reach of support is extended widely. These regular touchpoints and nudges with customers have enabled us to maintain good levels of income collection. As a result, we also have been able to connect with, refer and support our customers to our Money Advice team who have achieved record-levels of performance – year-to-date up to December 2023, £2.3 million of additional income. That’s nearly 1,000 customers who have received help from us to strengthen their financial health to help to sustain tenancies; in part enabled through the increased engagement activity from Caseload Manager.

    "Caseload Manager takes us to the next level – offering a higher accuracy in recommendations and engagement. We were particularly drawn to the platform's advanced capabilities. Consolidating this innovative solution under the expertise of Voicescape, with whom we already share a strong relationship, instilled confidence in our decision to transition away from our previous income analytics solution. The move positions us strategically to elevate our performance and deliver enhanced outcomes for our customers."

    Helen Bruce, Customer Accounts Manager

    Managing Former Tenant Arrears

    From an officer's perspective, Caseload Manager has streamlined processes, offering a user-friendly journey. The daily processing capability and reduced caseload have enhanced responsiveness, allowing for more focused customer assistance. Notably, the ML -led automation effectively tackles former tenant arrears (FTA), a complex area, allowing Onward Homes to engage former tenants with low propensity to engage and recover FTA often without any manual intervention.

    "Caseload Manager has been game-changing for Onward Homes, providing not only daily processing capabilities, but also a significant reduction in active caseload, enabling our team to be more focused and responsive. In contrast, our previous income analytics product offered only a weekly data refresh, causing delays in addressing customer needs, which meant we were potentially acting on outdated data."

    Rob Davies Head of Customer Accounts & Money Advice

    "Caseload Manager has revolutionised the officer's role; conversations we’re having are now higher quality and solutions-focussed. The ability to send texts, emails, and letters directly through Caseload Manager eliminates the need to ‘swivel-chair’ between systems, enhancing efficiency,"

    Shirley McFarlane, Customer Accounts Manager.

    A Smooth Implementation with Dedicated Support

    Implementation, guided by regular communication and support from Voicescape's Customer Success Management team, has been smooth. Onward Homes acknowledges the positive experience and the ongoing strong relationship with Voicescape.

    "Voicescape really listened to what we needed and even came to our office, which made getting Caseload Manager up and running super easy. The Customer Success team were there for us whenever we needed help, not just with the tech side of things, but also in getting our team on board. Working together made switching to Caseload Manager smooth, and we've kept a great relationship with Voicescape. It shows our partnership is a real success!"

    Helen Bruce, Customer Accounts Manager

    The evolution from legacy income analytics solution to Caseload Manager underscores the collaborative and forward-thinking partnership between Onward Homes and Voicescape. The new solution has not only stabilised income performance, but also empowered officers and addressed nuanced challenges, showcasing its transformative impact in the housing sector.

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