Metropolitan Thames Valley: scaling our online services for social housing residents

We are really excited to be expanding on our work with Thames Valley Housing. We’ve been working with them for 5 years, initially creating and now helping to run an online service for social housing residents to pay rent, log and track repairs – MyTVH.

MyTVH has completely transformed the user experience and makes life much better for residents. As significantly more residents now go online, it also saves time and money for call centre staff so they can focus on more complicated queries and supporting vulnerable residents.

Scaling the service

TVH has recently merged with Metropolitan Housing to form Metropolitan Thames Valley (MTV).  Together they will manage 57,000 homes. In the MyTVH service, we have a proven model for taking payments and raising repair requests that can be scaled and adapted for use by different organisations. So we’re going to develop it for use by former Metropolitan Housing residents too.

We kicked off the work this week and expect it to last until the autumn.

Metropolitan Thames Valley

A better service for residents

MyTVH lets residents do things much more easily than before. £7 million of payments were taken online in 2018 alone, and over 6,500 repairs have been submitted online since the service went live.

90% of online payments are completed successfully, and 75% of repair requests. The repairs process is a bit more complex because the user has to explain what they need and that takes longer, so there’s more drop out and some people still prefer to call or email.

Adapting the service to meet new user needs and work with different backend systems

Metropolitan residents will benefit from an improved service in the same way TVH residents did, and we expect to see similar savings for contact centre time. We’ll start by doing some discovery research to see if there are new user needs that we need to meet.

As the 2 organisations have come together, there is a new brand and a new organisation, so there will be some re-design work happening too. There will be a longer term piece of work to do to explore future operating models including processes and the IT estate. In the meantime we’ll ensure that MyTVH is able to talk to the existing different back end systems, while providing the same high-quality experience for all users.

Keep iterating

We’re constantly looking to improve the MyTVH system based on user needs, and in the process reducing operating costs so resources can be deployed onto higher value work.

We’re currently looking at the use of logins. Residents need to use a login to access all MyTVH services at the moment. This will always be needed for some payment transactions, but for lower risk transactions like repairs this might not need to be the case. We’ll be testing that soon, with a view to making it as easy as possible for users to access services. We built an online system for Hackney residents that just deals with repairs. That doesn’t require a login, and we’d like to do the same for MyTVH if we can.

We’re also trialling sending SMS updates to residents about things like incidents or emerging repair issues. Taking a more proactive approach to this type of communication will keep residents better informed. It also means they won’t need to contact the call centre as often, as they will know the council is aware of issues and is acting on them.

What next

We will keep blogging about how we’re developing the service and what we’re learning along the way. If you’re a local authority or housing association and would like to find out more, please get in touch.

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