Social housing providers are adapting to uncertainty within the marketplace by leveraging digital transformation technologies. These approaches greatly enhance service delivery, streamline internal systems and reduce costs.  

Some typical solutions include combining machine learning with AI through the use of chatbots and predictive analytics, or by leveraging social media engagement to achieve housing centre automation. In addition to this, it is also possible to observe tenant sentiments using a tool such as Microsoft Social Engagement.

By embracing IoT technology (the Internet of Things) it is possible to monitor household energy and gas consumption, whilst being able to view service related information of household items.

The collation and analysis of data such as the one’s mentioned above will help to reduce social housing expenditures while simultaneously improving the quality of life for tenants.

Let us take a look at how all this can be achieved.

The Usage of Predictive Analytics

AI has technically advanced to the point where it is now a viable solution to employ within the social housing sector.

Predictive analytics will leverage techniques including (but not necessarily limited to) statistical analyses and data mining to accurately anticipate any future events as they may arise.

One of the main benefits associated with machine learning is that this process can effectively analyse numerous metrics at the same time.

These will include tenant requirements, issues with the elderly and even specify if a property will require maintenance in the near future, this assesses the relationships between data, probability and current trends.

This can be highly useful in the event of a tenant that is experiencing financial hardships. It will also help keep housing providers informed of this type of scenario before the situation gets adversely worse. AI and data analytics will offer an “early warning” system which considers variables such as late payments or recent loans.

Housing providers are able to take the appropriate actions to lessen the burden on the tenant in question. This will help to guarantee a reliable flow of income while also encouraging renters to better manage their personal finances. This inclusion of data science enables relationships, trends and observations to be accurately interpreted.

Some examples of the uses of real-time data analytics in the housing sector include:

  • Regular maintenance of a property.
  • Recovering lost income.
  • Detecting and preventing fraud.
  • Interpreting the insight of tenants.
  • Breaking clients down into individual demographic segments.

Those associated with textual analytics are often:

  • Client surveys.
  • End-user customer services.
  • Addressing complaints and performing physical repairs.


The Use of Chatbots

Another benefit of advanced AI solutions can be seen in the introduction of chatbots. These algorithms will appear similar to human counterparts and yet, they are available 24 hours a day and seven days a week if the need arises.

Queries can be addressed virtually and instantaneously, and these AI solutions are inherently scalable. This mitigates strain on internal resources and enhances efficiency.

Specific types of chatbots known as Headless User Interfaces (HUIs) will further help to reduce costs while offering customers well-informed answers in the blink of an eye. This enables housing agents to better focus their resources upon real-world organic interactions.

The number of inbound calls will drop while the levels of customer satisfaction associated with a live customer representative will rise. Chatbots will eliminate the need for a live customer service representative in many instances and when a serious issue is encountered, it can be addressed with clarity and insight.

There are a handful of other benefits specific to the social housing sector. Chatbots and headless user interfaces can bridge the gap for individuals who are not able to get access due to a deficiency in computer skills.

Chatbots can also serve as digital “bridges” between the social housing agency and the end user. Common issues such as when the next rubbish collection is due or upcoming housing association meetings can be addressed with ease.

While still somewhat in the developmental stage, experts estimate that no less than 30 per cent of common Internet queries will be addressed with the use of headless user interfaces by the year 2020.

To summarise, these are the primary benefits associated with chatbots and headless user interfaces:

  • These channels are active 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.
  • They will help to replace traditional methods such as SMS messages, phone calls and face-to-face meetings.
  • They can handle multiple requests simultaneously.
  • They will direct specific enquiries to human representatives if required.


IoT Housing

Also known as IoT, the Internet of Things is already changing the ways in which big data is interpreted and how home-connected sensor technology is improving the lifestyles of tenants.

These smart devices can now monitor metrics such as energy efficiency, levels of carbon monoxide, temperature and even humidity.

This will enable landlords and similar stakeholders to address small issues before they “snowball” into considerable (and costly) problems. Investments are better protected, and entire property portfolios can remain secure.

We also need to point out that efficiency and cost benefits are not the only advantages associated with IoT. Landlords and social housing councils will be able to deliver their services in a targeted fashion.

Looking at the bigger picture, IoT enables housing providers to better appreciate how renters are living as well as the performance of their properties. This provides further benefits such as adopting the correct construction techniques and even drawing parallels between health and residency variables.

The Use of Microsoft Social Engagement Tool: For Social Listening, Engagement and Management

Social Media Management Centres

Social media management centres can often be used to automate many actions within the housing centre itself. This method is associated with some truly powerful advantages. One of the primary benefits is that less time will be required to address and rectify any CRM or tenant related issues.

Traditional communication methods such as VoIP systems and phone calls can be integrated with Microsoft Dynamics 365 business solution. Additionally, solutions such as Microsoft Social Engagement offer powerful social intelligence that is highly scalable and flexible.

Advanced algorithms are employed to collate and collect user input from social media feeds. This data can then be analysed and interpreted with a user-friendly graphical interface.

This is an effective approach when utilised in synergy with a comprehensive customer engagement solution such as Dynamics 365 CRM. 

The result is that costs will be significantly reduced while housing service representatives will be freed up to allocate their skills in more complex areas.

Some additional features of the Microsoft Social Engagement Tool include:

  • The ability to automatically or manually enter tags to better understand the social dimensions of posts.
  • Link posts directly to Dynamics 365 as cases, enabling staff to respond to information and support requests.
  • Office 365 Outlook Mail Application Integration, providing capability to distribute automated emails to alert you to pre-defined scenarios which you can setup via the message centre console. Some examples of this include, alerts to a change in volume of social posts, or a particular issue which needs immediate attention.

A solution such as Microsoft Social Media Engagement pulls and collates data from across a variety of different digital channels. This is critical in terms of stock and asset management. MSE can render effective and pre-emptive solutions before minor problems will have a debilitating effect in terms of time, cost and customer satisfaction.

MSE functions by providing information based off specific parameters associated with pre-defined topics, semantics and keywords. Values will be assigned to this data within an easy-to-interpret format. The user can select from a kaleidoscope of reporting views which are accessed via a central dashboard.

Interestingly enough, it is also possible to identify the intentions found within posts. For instance, maintenance requests can be directly routed to the appropriate department.

This cuts down on potential waiting times and enables the right individuals to proactively engage with the clients in an efficient manner. Posts may also be sent to key team members and labels can be assigned to establish well-organised workflows.

Housing providers are not only able to engage directly with renters through the Microsoft Social Media Engagement Tool to resolve any potential issues in real-time, but in addition to this they are also able to discover and analyse emerging trends well in advance.


There are many challenges currently facing the modern social housing sector. This article has highlighted some of the most important and pertinent hurdles to overcome.

cloudThing has the knowledge and expertise to help housing providers enhance their service delivery and completely revolutionise their business operations through the effective deployment of digital transformation programmes. Speak to us today to find out more.