Curo's Executive Director of Customer Experience, Paul Harris, looks at how we'll soon be offering customers more choice and better services through smarter use of digital technology... and how you can help shape this future.
Over the last five years or so we have seen many digital technologies become proven in sectors across the UK and beyond. While we aren’t all going to be replaced by robots tomorrow, many of the futuristic ideas that have been talked about are here today.
Companies and governments are using machines (artificial intelligences) to interact with customers and carry out certain business tasks; an economy based on digital currency exists; sensors connected to the internet can order food for you when your fridge runs low; and voice recognition systems are now so much better than just a few years ago.
Futuristic technology is here today, and the pace of change is growing.
At Curo, we have a diverse ranges of properties, places and customers across the West Country. We are not one of the early movers in the digital race, but we are now considering how best to use digital technologies to improve life for our customers. One of the obvious places to start is our Contact Centre. We receive more than 150,000 calls each year from our customers, and that number is increasing, alongside emails and social media messages.
Sometimes we just aren’t able to deal with all the customers ringing in at the same time, and so we are now looking at alternatives which will provide information and services online (for those comfortable using smartphones, computers or tablets), and giving our telephone call handlers more time to deal with customers who prefer to use the phone, or have complex enquiries which we can deal with in detail. So at some point we’ll introduce some new ways of getting in touch, and we’ll encourage customers to use our website, app or maybe even a chatbot.
In order to provide the great service we aspire to, we also need to have decent systems behind the scenes, and keep all of our data safe. Customer-facing colleagues need to be able to access information on our properties, who lives there, and a record of previous contact, so they can help more quickly. We’ll be looking at our current systems and seeing whether they are fit for the future, or if we need to invest in more modern IT infrastructure to provide a modern service.
In your homes there are also opportunities to take advantage of new technology. Many people today use a smart meter for their boiler and heating system, and this can help save money on bills. There are a wide range of similar devices which can provide information on every appliance and machine in a house, and help the customer avoid things breaking down, and help us repair things when they do go wrong. ‘Damp sensors’ can also help identify problems with windows, doors and air circulation, and for more vulnerable customers there are huge numbers of devices which can help with everyday chores, taking the right medication, or dealing with isolation and loneliness.
We’re at the start of this journey but are very clear on a few things – we want to provide our customers with a range of choices for how they get in contact with us, and we want to improve our services.
If you’d like to help – and perhaps win £200 in shopping vouchers – we have launched a very short customer survey to get a better understanding of how you see the digital opportunity. Over the next few months we will also be working with a group of our customers to update our resident involvement approach, and this too will see us launching new digital channels to encourage more customers to get involved in the way we run our business.