Going digital for the Voluntary Right to Buy pilot

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18 October 2016 | 18 October 2016

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With more and more of our residents spending their time online – to pay their bills, do their shopping, and speak to the businesses they deal with – we are working hard to modernise our services and make it easier for our residents to interact with us.

That’s why we’ve been focused on taking advantage of technology and introducing more digital ways of working.

And that’s why, when we decided to take part in the Voluntary Right to Buy (VRTB) pilot, we also decided to take a digital-first approach.

Going beyond the traditional

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While we used traditional methods such as email, letters and local events to directly tell residents about the scheme, we also used targeted Facebook adverts to generate interest.

These ads were linked to post codes where we had the highest concentrations of stock, and we invited people to find out more and sign up to an event in their area.

Once the resident had decided to take the opportunity further we made sure the application form on our website was easy to use.

We also included a postcode checker in the first section which automatically excluded applications for properties outside the pilot, so residents knew straight away, without filling in tonnes of paperwork, whether their home was available.

The rest of the process was just as customer-focused. People could:

  • move backwards and forwards through the form
  • save information as they went so they could return to it later
  • upload supporting documents
  • pay the administration fee online

We also included a mortgage calculator and links to Zoopla to help applicants better understand the value of their property and how much they may need to borrow.

Applications would then transfer into our CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system, which managed the rest of the process.

Almost all aspects of the application process were handled digitally.

As the sale progressed we visited the applicant in their home, which provided an important face-to-face element, both to check the property and see any important documents, such as proof of identity.

But we didn’t forget the minority. While most residents preferred to apply online, a few still needed a traditional application form, which we provided for them.

A win-win for our business and our residents

Offering online options saves more than just print costs. It means we can be more agile. It means we can provide a better service too.

For example, we’ve continued to develop our application form as the pilot has progressed, adding functionality and information guided by customer feedback, smoothing out the process.

Digital solutions save money, yes, but they also improve the customer journey for our residents, and save time for everyone.

 

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