NHMF Awards 2022 - Best Customer Impact Winner : Orbit
Judges’ comments: -- A good initiative and one that is clearly benefitting Orbit and customers. -- Some high numbers here. Self-registration particularly good. -- Eye to the future with clear targets set.
What was the project?
To improve Orbit’s online customer portal, ‘myAccount’ (launched over 10 years ago) by addressing issues and using suggestions from customer feedback. The main objective was to improve customer experience by providing key services (booking a repair, managing their finances), on any device, every day of the week, at a time suitable/convenient for customers. Orbit conducted focus groups and customer research to explore attitudes and use of portals. 85% said they would use a user-friendly portal (if provided) and demonstrated a significant possibility to increase the % of customers interacting with Orbit online – enabling it to free up the time and resource of its face-to-face customer service teams.
What was the problem?
Orbit’s first customer portal was launched over 10 years ago but customer surveys and portal usage reports showed fewer than 10% of customers were logging on and those who did were primarily checking their balance. Customer feedback explained the previous portal was hard to navigate, with simple tasks, such as booking repairs, complicated and hard to do, with many customers saying it was quicker and easier to phone a contact centre.
What is innovative about the service provided?
Before embarking on changing its online offer, Orbit wanted to really understand the appetite for digital services within its customer-base, what customers needed and wanted so it conducted focus groups and customer research to explore attitudes and usage of portals. Customer research was also key to developing the ‘myAccount’ functionality with the insights gleaned helping to transform its look and feel, to massively enhance user experience. As a result, the language and terminology used throughout is consistent, user options are simple and easy to understand, its new repairs module is more straightforward for customers to use and a new enquiries module has been added too. Orbit will be seeking customer feedback to understand what further changes they would like, and will be monitoring usage and feedback through its continuous improvement programmes.
What are the measurable benefits to the client, the contractor, the resident and the neighbourhood?
‘myAccount’ was launched in June 2021 and in its first 2.5 months, 1264 repairs were raised online that would have previously been calls into the contact centre. ‘myAccount’ also allows customers to raise call centre queries online or report incidents – 442 of these were received in the same period, ranging from logging a complaint to adding people to their tenancy. A further benefit has been more customers registering themselves for the portal rather than when Orbit had to do this. Since launching self-registration in August 2021, registrations rose to 456 compared with the highest rate of 219 when Orbit registered them. There is also a higher usage rate when customers register themselves for a service.
Orbit’s customers are getting younger and many of them, whatever their age, are more tech savvy. Most notably, people of all ages are much more used to using apps on smart phones or tablets for services like online banking or live chats to discuss utility services. Customers today expect digital accessibility and, understandably, social landlords are being compared to retailers and service providers, who are leading the way in digital ecommerce and online services.
What are the financial costs and measurable cashable benefits over a defined time period?
‘myAccount’ not only empowers Orbit’s customers to take control of their own accounts, but allows Orbit to free up the time and resource of its face-to-face customer service teams. It is a huge improvement on the previous platform, but it is very much the first step on a longer digital journey. Orbit has set itself a target to reach 70% customer usage with ‘myAccount’, quite an ambitious goal, but Orbit knows that if it delivers the right user experience and service, it is achievable.
How relevant is this as an example that might be followed by other organisations?
Customer research can be used by any social landlord, even if they do not have an online service currently. Orbit’s approach provides a model for organisations wanting to understand and serve their customers better and to monitor the if customer service improvements are achieving what was intended.
Launched in June 2021, ‘myAccount’ allows Orbit’s customers to manage their account digitally 24/7. Customers benefit from a better online experience thanks to the simpler navigation and improved look and feel, making it easier to find the information they need, when they need it.
‘myAccount’ is fully responsive meaning it works just as effectively on a laptop or a mobile device, it allows customers to book a home or communal repair or maintenance work. Orbit’s repairs contractor will then contact the customer to arrange a convenient time. Customers can also log in to see the status of the repairs from start to finish. In addition, they can:
- Talk to Celeste is Orbit’s new chatbot that can guide customers through the most commonly asked questions and provide useful tips on how to manage their account; send enquiries and make online requests directly to its helpful advisory teams; update their contact details without the need to spend any time on the phone. Amendments are made in real-time and are updated with immediate effect.
- Manage their money, including paying their rent or service charges, setting up and managing a Direct Debit, view and download rent statements, rent balance and transaction history.
- Get involved with decisions that impact them and their communities through Orbit’s online customer engagement platform, Your Voice.
- Access messages or documents specific to them via the secure message area.
- Find the details of their dedicated property manager should they ever need to contact them.
By taking more of these day-to-day transactions for customers online, it means Orbit’s employees can focus on adding value to more significant or complicated issues, so the benefits of a better digital experience are felt by all its customers at every touchpoint in the customer journey. ‘myAccount’ will also capture customers’ key marketing preferences and whether they prefer to receive service notifications via email or SMS, allowing Orbit to expand its messaging capability in the future and engage with customers more effectively. ‘myAccount’ incorporates new functions to ensure it is accessible for all customers including ‘browsealoud’ where the text can be read aloud for users. There is also an option to translate the text into different languages.
Orbit’s first customer portal was launched over 10 years ago and since then there has been significant changes to society’s digital usage and expectations. ‘myAccount’ is Orbit’s new and improved online customer portal - a dedicated, secure, web-based app that allows customers to login and self-manage certain aspects of their account. It has improved Orbit’s customer experience by providing key services such as booking a repair or managing their finances on any device, every day of the week, at a time to suit their requirements. Shaped by the feedback from customers, ‘myAccount’ not only empowers Orbit’s customers to take control of their own accounts, but it allows Orbit to free up the time and resource of its face-to-face customer service teams.
Check out all of our NHMF Awards 2022 winners here.