Report a Repair: our work with Hackney Council

dxw has been working with Hackney Council to improve the public beta of the Report a Repair service.

Report a Repair is for social housing residents in Hackney to report repairs they need on their homes. They can book appointments for simple repairs themselves at times that suit them.

Every year, around 170,000 repairs are reported, predominantly by phone call, by the 25,000 tenants and leaseholders in the borough. The digital service makes it easy for residents to book repairs, but for the council, it can reduce the number of calls going in and out of the Repairs Contact Centre; a crucial but overburdened part of the Council’s infrastructure.

Working together, Hackney and dxw developed the Report a Repair service from alpha to a simple beta that was made available to residents at the end of February. The early data showed that 30% of repairs reported in the service did not require a call to the Repairs Call Centre with the residents successfully scheduling their own appointment. That means freeing up time for a  busy call centre agent to process more complex cases. A good start.

But the work wasn’t finished.

Launching is just the beginning

Continuous improvement is an essential process in delivering and maintaining quality digital products and services. Without an ongoing cycle of informed iterations, it’s difficult to respond to change or address the developing needs of users. It’s an approach that helps de-risk the future and provides valuable insights into what is working and what needs improving.

Whilst 30% of the repair reports not requiring a call is positive, the majority of repairs still needed a call-back from the call centre. And not all of the repairs that resulted in a self-booked appointment were reported correctly and needed manual intervention. This is significant because the cost of sending a plumber or electrician out to a repair job that they don’t have the skills to fix is much higher than an agent taking a call and making sure the right tradesperson is sent out.

dxw and Hackney reconvened in May to evaluate the data collected since February and improve the service. We spoke with users, both residents of the borough and the Hackney Repairs Team, to understand their experiences of using and working Report a Repair. Based on what we learnt, we designed and implemented some changes to the service. These included changes to content, iterations of the journey paths, and the development of new features to increase functionality.

The results have been immediate. 55% of repairs being reported in the service now do not require a call. That’s a 25% decrease in the number of calls required and makes up the majority of repairs being reported. And even better, every repair reported that didn’t require a call since the changes went live has been reported correctly. That’s fewer calls, more resident booked appointments and less pressure on the call centre.

As part of this work, we wanted to make it easier and simpler to understand the ongoing performance of Report a Repair. Pulling the data from the service, we created Hackney Council’s first real-time performance dashboard. The dashboard shows how many repairs are being reported, what type of repairs are coming through, and if the report needs a follow-up call or resulted in a resident- booked appointment.

This work took four weeks. In that short space of time, we were able to understand how the service was performing, test the service with users, decide what improvements we could make, make the changes, and provide the infrastructure to support future improvements.

Next steps

The next steps are to complete ongoing reviews of the service. Now that Hackney Council and the Repairs team have access to a live dashboard, they can monitor real-time service performance and continue to iterate it. This process can be a continuous cycle. As time goes on, Report a Repair will then get better and better, and the number of calls going in and out of the call centre will continue to decrease.

By adopting a continuous improvement approach, dxw and Hackney Council have been able to quickly, and guided by user needs, make some significant enhancements to Report a Repair that can be built on in the future. It shows that to build better services, we should always be doing, rather than done.