CS: Housing Repairs Defining a Common Service Pattern

Southwark Council and Partners

 Improving online housing repairs

(a National Exemplar Project)

Get the free Online Housing Repairs research report

The report will give you:

The results of over 200 interviews with housing repairs customers

The barriers that Social Housing need to overcome to convert customers to online

The high level financial benefits Councils can expect based on 4 independent savings estimations. 

And much more!

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Housing repair reports tend to be one of the biggest demands on contact centres but digital take up is often low. Digitising housing repairs services can help local authorities realise significant savings.

OrangeMaple partnered with Southwark Council, Lewisham Homes, Gravesham Council, Lincoln Council and MHCLG to run a discovery project to explore the barriers of digitising housing repair reporting services, and identify a common housing repairs customer journey for all four organisation


-We were able to dispel some of the myths and internal assumptions that can deter organisations for digitising services – for example, people with low English literacy often prefer digital.

-Developed a business case template for Local Authorities to calculate the benefits of getting online repairs working.

-Mapped a common digital customer journey for housing repairs services which was agreed with the four local authorities, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and two industry associations.

-Identified transactions users are making online, and key insights on behavioural traits and motivations to support successful channel shift.

“OrangeMaple conducted very detailed and comprehensive user research. It helped us better understand our users and their motivations and also dispelled a number of myths as part of designing the first iteration of the housing repairs common service pattern”

-May-N Leow, Southwark Council

Our approach

As well as researching industry best practice, we spent a great deal of time carrying out direct research with 200 residents, via interviews, online surveys and call listening. We also reviewed 35 websites and spoke with some key IT and industry leaders.

This gave us a true understanding of who our users are, how they interacted with the service and the friction points they encountered.

The insight we gathered enabled us to accurately identify and group common needs, frustrations and motivations for users of housing repairs reporting services. In total, eight behavioural archetypes, 17 user needs and five customer journeys were distinguished.

Importantly, our research with staff and residents highlighted breaks in the user journey and key barriers impacting the uptake of online housing repairs reporting:

-23% of residents did not have online capabilities

-Residents of all local authorities received a better experience from call centres than online services due to complicated systems and poor content. Even though Southwark’s contact centre had long waiting times, users still choose to call as this channel was more attractive than the digital service.

-Trust issues with housing repairs services meant users needed assurance their report was being dealt with. Many residents’ had experienced a poor service from housing repairs in the past, with jobs not being completed or contractors missing appointments. As a result, they chose to call and speak with a person so they could be sure their issue had received attention.

-Mobile versions of services were unresponsive, inaccessible and complicated.

-Forcing registration created friction and dissuaded users from using digital services. Southwark Council’s site required the user to link their tenancy details to their MyAccount, which residents found difficult to manage.

-Breaks in the digital service were adding to call volumes. Reporting repairs online didn’t automatically generate appointments, meaning residents had to wait 24 hours for confirmation, leaving them unsure of next steps and triggering follow-up contact.

The limited functionality of online reporting systems meant council’s were missing key opportunities to reduce demand on contact centres and increase ROI. Although viewing and editing existing bookings was a high-volume contact for Southwark and Lewisham councils’ contact centres, this functionality was not built into their systems

Next steps

We are working with Local Authorities and Housing Associations up and down the country who want to provide a better online experience for their tenants and also reduce costs.

Please reach out if you would like to know how we are changing the face of digital repairs.

“The team integrated really well. Everyone warmed to their approach and to the individuals themselves. It was evident that the OrangeMaple team wanted to help us get the most out of the project and were willing to go above and beyond the expected requirements to support us in delivering the required outcomes. ”
– Fraser Trickett, city of lincoln