01 July 2021
The world is rapidly changing, and so too are customer expectations. Digital technology has become the driving force behind most of our everyday interactions, whether we realise it or not. It’s essential property managers have the right digital solutions in place to meet these expectations and successfully adapt to the new technology-driven era, which FirstPort is leading the way on.
Here, Anthony Vaz, our Director of IT, discusses our pioneering digital transformation programme, The FirstPort Way. It’s revolutionising how we interact with our customers, clients, contractors and colleagues and will enable us to provide them with better service than ever before.
“This transformation journey is really exciting because what we’re doing is truly industry-leading. We’re implementing a cutting-edge digital platform that will enable us to capitalise on four core competencies as a business; customer service, accounts, supply chain and asset management, and make sure we get the very best out of each of them,” explains Anthony.
“We’re using specific best of breed technology for each competency; we’ve not made any compromises by choosing one piece of software to cover all four. However, the data that’s generated within each area can only do so much. But when you stitch it together correctly, which we are doing via The FirstPort Way, that’s when you get that element of differentiation. And this is what will enable us to deliver better experiences for all.”
Communication that’s built around our customers’ needs
Delivering customer-centric service is something we are already focused on and care deeply about. The FirstPort Way, which is focused around our four Ps – People, Process, Platform and Passion for Customers, will enable us to react quicker, be more efficient and communicate better, with greater transparency than ever before.
“Customers’ expectations of all service providers are far greater now. Technology has made everyone far more ‘tech-savvy’ and understandably, more demanding. So, how they want to interact with us has totally changed,” explains Anthony.
“Some people may want to contact us while they’re working from home, on their way into work on the bus or when they’ve finished their shift in the evening. We need to be able to have on-going conversations with customers when they want to and how they want to. We recognised that our existing systems weren’t allowing us to do this as well as we’d like to.
“We want to make life easier for our customers, and this digital transformation work means they’ll start to see benefits in their interactions with us. For instance, from an online perspective, our customer portal provides them with the ability to start what we call ‘customer journeys’ themselves. They can log on to My Home and tell us about a broken light in the main corridor and we can respond more efficiently, thoroughly and accurately because all of the data we need to fix this first time is at our fingertips. We can tell the contractor exactly which light is broken, precisely where it is located, and provide all of the other information they could possibly need to carry out the work required. Customers can track the progress of this repair, receive automatic updates, and also see any other requests submitted by their neighbours.
“As for our clients, The FirstPort Way means they get the reassurance that their assets are well-managed and that customers are getting the service and value they deserve. Plus, we can better harness the wealth of data available to us from across the business to make more informed decisions. Ultimately, it will make working with FirstPort even easier.”
Significantly enhanced customer and client interactions
Our customers and clients may think The FirstPort Way means we’ll be relying more on digital interaction and less on human interaction going forward. In fact, by upgrading and integrating all our systems, information and processes into one platform, we’ll be giving more time back to our colleagues to deliver better human experiences for customers.
“For example, at a glance, our property managers and customer service teams will be able to see everything that’s happened with a customer without having to trawl through different files and systems – that customer history will be immediately available at their fingertips,” explains Anthony.
“Having all of the data they need in front of them when a customer gets in touch – whether that’s face-to-face, over the phone, or online – means they can provide a more timely and accurate response.”
Implementing and refining The FirstPort Way
A considerable amount of work on understanding all of our business areas and how the many processes and customer touchpoints can be more customer-centric has been carried out. This work has been fundamental to shaping The FirstPort Way.
“We took this invaluable insight on how we should work and applied it to a technology solution. We spent over a year designing and building the technology to support our new way of working, which involved configuring the software systems to work in the right way for us,” explains Anthony.
“We’re currently migrating all of the information from our old systems to this new platform, which is being done with the utmost of care. We look after 290,000 homes so we are doing this work at a steady pace, rolling out the new platform in phases between now and the end of the year.”
Anthony concludes: “While we may be currently implementing The FirstPort Way, we can already say that plans for its future development look exciting. It won’t be the end once we’ve implemented it. It’s a digital platform for change that will involve continuous integration and development, just like an app on your phone that updates every few weeks. Small or significant changes, we will continue to drive it forward and pave the way in delivering customer-focused property management at its very best.”
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