Claire McGinley - Online Engagement Manager, Texthelp

Takeaways from Housing 2017

In June, I attended the Housing 2017 conference in Manchester, England. There were great sessions on a range of interesting and important housing topics, all of which I wish I could share with you. But, there was one key takeaway that really stood out, and this was - Customer First! 

This year, there seemed to be an increased focus on digitalisation and self service strategies. A number of speakers shared their own digital transformation stories, offering guidance and best practices based on their experiences. 

One myth that I’m sure you all have heard, is that people who live in social housing don’t have access to the internet. Nick Atkin from Halton Housing turned that myth on its head by announcing that 83% of their residents have access to the internet themselves and 11% have access elsewhere - through family or friends. With over 6,000 residents contacted, this is a fantastic revelation and a great step towards digitalisation. 

Offer Choice 

Due to the increase in demand for using digital services in the housing sector, Joanne Tilley from EMH Homes advised delegates to encourage their residents to make contact in the way they want. By putting the customer first, residents will be able to choose how best to communicate or transact with their housing association. Residents will feel empowered and organisations will enjoy benefits of reduced costs and improved efficiencies. 

Our good friend and fellow speaker during the event, Barbara Grehs from Hanover Housing also stressed the importance in putting the customer first. A firm believer in user experience, Barbara has transformed Hanover Housing’s website by working with staff and residents to ensure improved navigation and further into the future, a seamless self service experience. 

Barbara hit the nail on the head when she asked the audience 'how can we help and how can we empower?' Like Barbara, I believe housing associations should ask themselves this question at every opportunity when considering their next steps in putting customers first.

Technology of the future

Barbara also raised the topic of technology of the future and the need to think beyond digital. Accessibility products are provided in the tenants home if needed, so why not offer it throughout the organisation? When asking the audience how many use accessibility solutions on their websites, very little raised their hands. This was slightly concerning. Barbara believes, ‘Accessibility is the future’ and it has pride of place as one of their core values - for their tenants AND their staff. And we agree with her.

As a team, we’ve come away from Housing 2017 with a strong belief that as a company, Texthelp is contributing to ‘Customer First’. We’re not just about software and we don’t just help your staff and residents with reading and writing - we help them fulfill their potential. So I know our customers and our users really are at the heart of everything we do. 

It's great to see the huge steps housing associations across the UK are making to ensure their customer comes first too. There are housing associations around the country doing some exceptional digital work and are already seeing benefits - this is great to see. Happy, digitally skilled residents saves money and this money can be spent on other valuable projects -  a win win for both residents AND housing associations. 

If you were at Housing 2017 and keen to transform your digital strategy, we would love to hear from you. 

To learn more and find how we can contribute to your digital transformation, send us an email:


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