The tenants can also use the portal to make appointments for repairs themselves, cutting out the middle man and ensuring the tradespeople actually find someone at home when they call. Paper, printing and postage costs can also be cut because communication via the portal means less communication by post – especially when, as will be the case in future, safety certificates for equipment like gas water heaters can be stored digitally in a legally compliant manner. As Battersby highlights, that will negate the need for up to 20,000 printouts and generate huge efficiency gains.
“The time and money we save on admin by using the customer portal can be put to good use elsewhere. For instance, we can invest more in our buildings and improve other services for our tenants.”
But there was another decisive aspect for Curo: collaboration. Curo has been using the Aareon QL ERP system since 2011, and the 1st Touch Self-Service App since 2016. The difference between the portal and the Self-Service App is that the portal can be accessed via browser only, but offers the tenants more details. It also grants them greater control over changes to their customer accounts, like updating personal data. Both of these have one advantage, according to Battersby:
“Everything can be combined easily; all our data is stored with a single provider and everything has the same look and feel.”
It is important for Curo that there are no functional gaps, adds Battersby. That makes the system future-proof, he says, and ensures the company can achieve its digital strategy. Curo obtained quotations from other software providers in order to compare prices.
Within three months of the launch, 2,300 tenants had registered to use the portal, and about 50 new ones are joining up every week. “The whole project is a process, because the 360 Customer Portal requires our customers to change the way they do things. It takes them time to get used to it,” says Battersby. Curo is not the only housing company in the UK that has successfully rolled out the software. “Six customers have already gone live with the portal. We are currently in the implementation process with another eight. And we have another seven in the pipeline ready to start”, says Tim Birkett, Professional Services Manager – Digital Products at Aareon UK.