How Notting Hill Genesis are improving digital experiences in social housing

the Genesis Housing website

The recent merger of Notting Hill Housing Association and Genesis Housing to form Notting Hill Genesis has created one of the UK’s largest housing associations, with around 119,000 homes across London and the south east of England. Luckily, the new organisation is well-placed to serve the evolving needs of its residents (who number in excess of 150,000), thanks to an ambitious aim of delivering services digitally by default and through a versatile, scalable and reliable technology stack built on Drupal 8 and the Acquia Digital Experience platform.

Digital challenges in social housing

The social housing sector has been facing multiple, severe challenges since the beginning of the decade: a reduction in subsidies from government; a shortage of housing supply resulting from a sustained economic downturn; and increasingly stringent regulations for the estates they manage. At the same time, as with all consumers, the populations served by housing associations have become increasingly digitally savvy.

All of which puts housing associations in a bind. They need to digitise their services to better serve their customers, and to benefit from operational efficiencies, but budget constraints, a hodge-podge of legacy systems (often accumulated during previous mergers), a historical approach to customer service rooted in paper-based forms and telephone/email communications, and organisational structures which make embracing digital difficult, all present significant barriers.

However, the leading HAs know that digital is here to stay, and are making the technological and cultural changes required to meet customer expectations, and benefit from the attendant operational efficiencies. Notting Hill Genesis is a leading proponent of this kind of Digital by Default thinking in the social housing sector, as a new case study on Acquia.com testifies.

Improving digital experiences for Genesis customers with Drupal and Acquia

When Genesis Housing (pre the official merger) first approached us in 2017, their website had been in use for as long as the organisation had been in existence, and wasn’t serving the current needs of their diverse customer base. Essential content was hard to reach, and vital services such as repair/fault reporting were diverted to the Genesis contact centre.

We worked with Genesis Housing to redesign critical user journeys to remove obstacles for customers, make important content easy to find through a new information architecture and intuitive navigation, and, in a major innovation for the industry, provide a repair reporting service that mirrored the experience of talking to contact centre staff through a conversational form.

As the case study reports:

“In the first four months of operation, the new site, with its improved information architecture and redesigned user journeys, saw over 300,000 page views”, with engagement stats such as pages per session, average time on site and bounce rate all improving markedly.  Important content that the organisation wanted to highlight, including ‘Buying Your Home’ and the site’s financial advice section, also saw significant increases in the number of page views.

“Due to the large number of interactions with the ‘report a repair’ form, FAQs and other forms, it is estimated that, between November 2017 and February 2018, an estimated 11,467 calls to the contact centre were prevented as a result of the new website – that’s an average of 2,866 enquiries per month that the website is now able to answer for its users.”

The new website, powered by Drupal and the Acquia Experience platform, is just the first phase of Notting Hill Genesis and Manifesto efforts to bring digital experiences in the social housing sector in line with customer expectations and realise the manifold benefits that come with a Digital by Default approach to service provision.

As legacy platforms are phased out, and as the organisation’s confidence with both technological innovation and Agile digital delivery methods grows, we fully expect Notting Hill Genesis to continue to lead the sector in digital innovation.

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