Connected Tenants – How to Encourage Digital Adoption in Social Housing
We’re entering a new digital age.
In the next 10 years, more than five billion new people will come online. This is both an exciting and dangerous prospect all at the same time.
More people adopting the internet means we’re all more connected, both with each other and with technologies. This can open up a whole realm of amazing possibilities where technologies can be used to make our lives easier. But a digital divide still exists between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ of internet-enabled technologies and sadly, it’s a reality that tenants in social housing are less likely to adopt and regularly utilise digital technologies.
This is the reason why (for the most part) the Internet of Things, hailed as a ‘game-changer’ that will ‘transform lives’, has been somewhat of a disappointment. If these technologies are not implemented properly and embraced by tenants then their potential will never be realised.
So what can be done to encourage digital adoption in social housing? We’ve compiled recommendations given by academic researchers and sector experts and applied our own digital expertise to reveal the best ways to encourage tenants to adopt digital technologies that will empower them and ultimately improve their lives and experiences as tenants.
Getting over the first hurdle: Provide education and support
It’s estimated that around 20% of tenants struggle with getting online, but that more than half of those 20% would want to if they were given the right support and encouragement.
If many of your tenants are falling at the first hurdle, then the lack of available education and support may be why. It’s also important to note that providing the education to get tenants online will not only benefit the housing provider, it will also make a positive difference to the wellbeing and lives of tenants. Internet access improves social inclusion and not only can it make things like paying bills and registering maintenance issues easier, the internet can also open up a whole new world of socialising, entertainment and learning.
Understand how tenants use the internet
2019 is around the corner and Statista reports that more than 63% of all website page views next year will be visited via a mobile phone.
It’s for this very reason that social housing providers must place a priority on delivering mobile-first digital solutions.
Sanctuary-housing.co.uk – page loading issues / page partially loaded (15 page resources not loading on mobile)
LQGroup.co.uk – page loading issues / page partially loaded (24 page resources not loading on mobile)
Riverside.org.uk – page loading issues / page partially loaded (8 page resources not loading on mobile)
Homegroup.org.uk – page loading issues / page partially loaded (18 page resources not loading on mobile)
Placesforpeople.co.uk – page loading issues / page partially loaded (4 page resources not loading on mobile)
Wdh.co.uk – page loading issues / page partially loaded (6 page resources not loading on mobile)
Midlandheart.org.uk – page loading issues / page partially loaded (19 page resources not loading on mobile)
Hyde-housing.co.uk – page loading issues / page partially loaded (11 page resources not loading on mobile)
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Anchor.org.uk – page loading issues / page partially loaded (16 page resources not loading on mobile)
Understand what motivates tenants
Encouraging digital adoption amongst tenants makes commercial sense and so it’s important to think carefully and strategically about what it is that motivates tenants to adopt your technologies and software. A pilot run by one housing association with the blessing of the Department for Work and Pensions, saw tenants receive discounts on their rents of up to £20 a month provided they went paper-free, transacted online and paid on time. This kind of incentive, along with an attractive, easy-to-use customer portal, meant that 59% of their customer transactions are now carried out online and this continues to grow.
Keep it simple
Over-complicating the education process, incentive and even the design of the platforms and technologies themselves can significantly reduce the chances of tenants utilising tech tools.
Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Instead, talk to an individual or team (like ours!) with years of experience in transforming the rate of digital adoption in the housing sector. A good team will be able to understand your tenants and their needs and design a simple platform that is easy to use for both tenants and staff.
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