Case Study: Success For Grove Community Housing Association In The All-Ireland Housing Awards

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The challenge

When the pandemic hit Grove Community Housing Association (GCHA), like so many other organisations was faced with the extremely difficult challenge of having to continue to support their tenants, limited by reduced financial and staff resources and the need to protect both their own employees and their residents through proper implementation of social distancing regulations and minimising opportunities for transmission. This was particularly problematic in a number of areas but especially acute in the area of repairs, maintenance and inspections which necessitated workers to visit a property, is an understandable area of huge concern for all parties as it provided a potential risk of exposure. From the outset, Grove Community Housing Association looked to see how they could use technology to help better serve their tenants, especially vulnerable ones who were already experiencing incredibly high levels of anxiety. In this case, how technology could be used to continue to provide the same levels of service to their tenants while keeping visits to properties to a minimum.

Remote Visual Assistance (RVA)

Grove Community Housing Association’s research indicated remote visual assistance (RVA) technology was likely to be a good solution for this challenge. Remote visual assistance technology, or remote visual inspection, was a relatively new technology whose usage case was already delivering operational efficiencies for customer service and inspection teams before the pandemic. Remote visual assistance works by allowing the user, usually a customer service team member or inspector, to take over the smartphone of the customer, get to see what the customer sees, and then help them through solving their problem by using augmented reality to annotate on their screen and/or verbally describing the right problem-solving steps. It helps customer service teams to solve problems faster, reduce visits, and allow inspectors to carry out evaluations without being present. Grove Community Housing Association recognised the value of the technology for repairs and inspections during any period of time, but especially how it helped resolve problems remotely during the pandemic. After evaluating a number of providers, Grove Community Housing Association decided to select Hostcomm for the sophistication of its technology solution, as well as its comprehensive UK-based customer support, customisation and added value features.

Key Results

Grove Community Housing Association initially rolled out Hostcomm’s RVA solution to focus on helping with gas servicing and gas repairs. Maintenance teams used RVA to guide the tenants remotely to help with things like, for example, correct identification of boiler numbers or visual troubleshooting of a problem.

The result was that those teams and Grove’s tenants were able to benefit in many ways:

  • Quicker assessment of a problem meant that could help more tenants even though they had limited resources;
  • The resolution of simple issues over the phone without the need to visit a property;
  • Carrying out inspections without having to enter a property, reducing anxiety around meeting face-to-face;
  • Ensure the right contractor was booked and that they could take the right part with them to make sure they would only need to visit a tenant once;
  • When a problem was more complex than expected, contractors could conference in more experienced team members to make sure it was solved on that first visit.

The success of remote visual assistance across gas servicing and repairs persuaded Grove Community Housing Association to quickly roll it out across the ‘Big Six’ Home Safety areas – electrical checks, asbestos management, legionella management, fire safety, lift servicing – where it also helped their teams to solve problems quicker and reduce tenant visits.

All-Ireland Housing Awards 2022

On the back of the successful implementation of Hostcomm’s RVA solution, Grove Community Housing Association decided to enter the All-Ireland Housing Awards 2022. The awards, which are organised by the Chartered Institute of Housing, are one of the most important events in the housing calendar in Ireland. In a competitive field, Grove Community Housing Association won in the Excellence in Housing Innovation category. Commenting on the award winners, Justin Cartwright, national director of CIH Northern Ireland, said:

“The All-Ireland Housing Awards and accompanying Good Practice Compendium is one of the most important activities in the housing sector each year. It pulls together examples and case studies of how housing professionals make a difference – a difference to the tenants and communities that we serve across the region and wider public policy objectives that make a difference in all our lives. The importance of sharing good practices has taken on an even greater significance as we continue to improve as a sector, evolving in the face of new challenges to help everyone across the sector create a future where everyone has a place to call home.”

About Hostcomm

Hostcomm helps organisations transform their customer service, outbound sales campaigns, data security, internal employee interaction and more. Our solutions include cloud-based diallers, remote visual assistance, live chat, AI virtual assistance, chatbots, PCI-DSS certified payments and CRM functionality. We help organisations transform their customer service journey, reduce costs and boost productivity through secure, reliable cloud-based solutions. For over 15 years, Hostcomm has combined industry and technical expertise, highly secure platforms and excellent customer support to deliver solutions for organisations to fully engage with their customers.

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