The Salford housing association, which owns over 8,000 homes, has given its tenants the option to manage their own tenancy digitally, with the introduction of a portal and a chatbot.
The platform, MySalix, will enable tenants to diagnose and schedule repairs for when it suits them, with the chatbot using real-time technology to figure out what the issue is, a first in the sector according to the association.
Tenants can also track the repair, keeping them in the know up until someone turns up on their doorstep, as well as report and track other concerns including anti-social behaviour and environmental issues.
Sue Sutton, executive director of operations at Salix Homes, said: “The housing sector has been one step behind for too long when it comes to technology, but as we enter a digital era it’s crucial that we innovate our infrastructure in order to engage better with our customers.
“MySalix not only provides a great new way for our customers to report and schedule a repair, but unlike other portals in the industry, the technology also completely removes any manual intervention from our teams to raise the repair – it’s all in real-time for our customers.”
In 2015, the housing association set out on a five-year plan to provide digital services to cope with demands in the future.
Rob Chantler, director at specialist business consultancy Exactly+, who supported the development of the chatbot feature, said: “Salix Homes’ rethinking housing initiative made it possible for us to fully challenge the traditional approach and thinking behind a property services solution.”