“Orbit is one of the UK’s leading housing groups, creating thriving communities with a growing portfolio of over 45,000 affordable social rented homes in the Midlands, East and South of England. For over 50 years, we've been a force for positive change, particularly during this continuing housing challenge,” explains Zoe Gould, Orbit’s Digital Operational Lead.
Orbit has been working to enhance its digital offering to customers, creating a new digital customer ‘myAccount’ portal to replace the previous iteration. Feedback had shown that only 10% of Orbit’s customers were using the service and tended to use it simply to check their balance. The portal needed an overhaul, and as part of that work Orbit approached us to create a chatbot that would give its customers more contact options.
“We chose to work with CM.com to strengthen our omnichannel offering to provide our customers with the access and service they require. CM.com believe that technology exists to enhance people's lives. And that's why we introduced a chatbot to Orbit, to enhance our customer experience,” says Danni Leadbetter, Orbit’s Digital Content Officer.
To reduce dependency on its customer service team, Orbit’s new portal enables customers to log in and see their account details. They can also interact with Orbit’s chatbot ‘Celeste’ from the customer website if they can’t find the information they need. Celeste guides customers through frequently asked questions, provides tips on how to manage their account and allows them to make requests to Orbit’s advisory teams.
Zoe continues, “Customers want the flexibility to find the information that they need in the most effective way possible. Not everybody can or wants to talk to a customer service agent, so our chatbot is a quick and reliable way to provide instant support. At times, they may prefer or need to have a more in-depth discussion with one of our colleagues, but the chatbot ensures they can get the information they require at any point.”
Danni Leadbetter explains how the chatbot has changed customers’ approach to contacting the company. “We've seen our customer recognition rates improve from 69.7% to a whopping 83%, with our monthly users increasing from 790 to 1835. It's great for our customers because it drives the traffic away from our call centre and they don’t have to wait in a queue for information about their account.”
Customers can also submit repair requests that are automatically filtered through to the repairs team for triage and response. This has made the process slicker and much more efficient. They can also access Orbit’s Better Days support and advice service. In the first two and a half months post-launch, 1264 repairs were reported online; reports were previously made directly to the customer service team via phone.
A crucial part of the project was to also provide Orbit’s internal team with a wealth of information to call on to answer customer queries effectively.
“We have regular sessions with Orbit to support them with their chatbot. In these sessions, we review the data with the team to ensure we capture optimisation possibilities,” says CM.com account manager Yasmin Inkero, “and we look at the roadmap ahead. It's important to us to have a close relationship with the Orbit team so we can help them achieve success.”
“CM.com’s reporting allows us to see where we need to focus to continue supporting our customers. We use things like gap analysis to see what questions customers ask and the answers they receive. And we can use that to optimise our responses further, so customers get a better, more complete answer. That, in turn, improves recognition rates.” – Danni Leadbetter, Digital Content Officer, Orbit
In addition to the external, customer-facing chatbot, Orbit has now turned its attention to internal communications.
“We've started a project to bring our internal chatbot to life with the aim of using it as a learning tool for our internal colleagues,” explains Danni, “it will answer a host of basic questions with links to processes, procedures and links to support them in their day-to-day roles. Perhaps they’re having a telephone conversation with a customer and don’t have colleagues readily available to help. They’ll be able to open a chat with the internal chatbot, ask it anything, and get the answers they need quickly and efficiently.”
“An internal or knowledge base chatbot is deployed inside the client environment instead of externally facing. In the case of Orbit, the internal chatbot that they want to deploy will assist with speeding up the learning process with new hires and ensure a consistent customer experience,” says Stewart Mackay, Senior Business Development Manager at CM.com. “You can use an internal chatbot for various things. You can use it to assist with onboarding new hires, with the chatbot able to quickly retrieve the information the new starter needs on policies and procedures. You can also use it to ensure consistency in customer answers. For example, a customer could call in and speak to a staff member who can look up the customer’s query in the system and find all the approved information they need to answer. It really helps to reduce the volume of erroneous responses.”
In addition to its external and internal chatbots, Orbit also uses our voicebot solution, which it calls ‘Celeste Speaks’. The voicebot goes live after 8pm on weekdays and also over the weekend and has five main topics that point customers to the location of more information.
“There's a need for housing associations to put the customer at the heart of all that we do. Tenants deserve the same standard of customer service that they expect from other service providers, and we aim to deliver the same high-quality standards,” says Zoe.
“Over the last ten years, technology has changed how we communicate with each other, our customers and other organizations. The growth of smartphones, apps, social media and digital communication platforms allows consumers to communicate instantly with whoever they want at the touch of a button. Our omnichannel approach allows customers to contact us in a way and at a time that suits them.”
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