I have heard enough housing professionals over the last 15 years say how much harder it is now than it used to be – this is really code for saying things used to be dead easy! But now our chickens have come home to roost as there really is an unprecedented series of changes for housing associations on the horizon.

In many ways our collective comfort blankets have been taken away as the grant reduces for social housing, the rent increases are turned upside down and our precious stock numbers are put at risk. But guess what, this is the future and of course when you start to think about the future you think of new ways to make things simpler and more efficient – and this should of course include a digital or technological aspect.

Housing association budgets are being reduced across the country and the pragmatic amongst us want to keep going and deliver new homes and great services, but of course we need to do this for less in many cases. Our IT resources are then put to the test as we seek efficiencies, work arounds and we continue to direct our customers to cost efficient digital options. The days of talking about customer internet usage, channel shift and 'ranges of options' are going to move quickly behind us as we bring our old worlds of doing everything for customers sharply in to line with other areas of customer services. The challenge for us is how to do this while still retaining our distinctive features and bringing our rent paying customers at least partially with us on this journey.

At ForViva we have six marketing campaigns planned for next financial year to promote automated payments, social media, ihousing, texting and webchat. The aim here is to create the ability for genuine 24/7 communications with our customers and to eat into the 30% who currently do not use digital methods.

Paul Carhart, Group Director of Customer Services, ForViva

Paul Carhart will be speaking at IT in Housing 2016 alongside Sarah Smith (AmicusHorizon) and Caroline Moore (Yarlington Housing) on identifying the efficiency savings that can be made with greater IT management.

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