In the next article of our series introducing you to the Help Desk, we speak with Help Desk Support member, Tammy. She filled us in on why she loves working with the Help Desk and what she finds most rewarding about the role…
First up, tell us about your role
I know and work across all of the Housing Partners products, but the main product I work on is PRAH, which is our homelessness product. PRAH helps local authorities to manage their duties under a new law that aims to reduce homelessness.
All my colleagues were a bit put off by the complexity of the product, but I fell in love with it and learnt it, so it became my baby. We have a lot of queries from local authorities working with the product and I deal with most of them.
What do you love about your role?
What I like is that I know I’m helping people to find a home, whether that’s a home swap or a permanent home away from homelessness. It’s amazing to see in such a real way that through what we’re doing, people are actually finding homes.
I also love creating relationships with customers; that can include tenants, landlords or local authorities. We get testimonials after speaking with customers and we get such lovely comments, which are really inspiring. It’s amazing to read that someone has found the home their family will live in forever. I try to go through testimonials in the mornings - it’s a lovely thing to do to start the day.
You just think, ‘that’s what the service is for’ – we know a lot of our tenants aren’t in the best situations when they come to us and it’s really great to know that they and their family are in a safe situation after using our systems.
How did you get into this job?
I’d worked over 20 years in customer service – since I was 16! - so it was a bit strange for people that I’d moved to a software company, but Housing Partners is all about passion for the customers. Customer service is still a big part of my role and that’s something that’s really important to me.
I was working at a company that’s neighbours with Housing Partners, but was offered redundancy, which I took. I then moved onto Housing Partners after having the role sent through by a recruiter. I’m still working with landlords and tenants, which I was doing in my previous role in property management, so there’s really not too much of a shift in the role.
I started with the HomeSwapper system, then learnt Home Hunt and then moved onto more specialised products. I’ve gone from specialising in one product to another throughout my time at Housing Partners but have now settled on PRAH; it’s really become my baby.
What’s it like working on HomeSwapper?
Since I’ve been here, the site has developed and changed so much and people are using the tools we’re giving them a lot more and in much better ways, so we’re getting less and less queries.
I think it’s a very detailed system, so the more accurate the information the tenants put in, the more they’ll get out of it. Some of the features are fantastic if you know how to use them well. MultiSwaps are a little more complicated of course, but if you are able to create one, then it’s fantastic. Instead of one person finding a home, it’s 4 or 5 finding their swap!
In my previous job, I was taking 80-100 calls a day and now it’s around 15 at Housing Partners because we mostly give email-based support. If you’re giving tenants step-by-step instructions, it’s so much clearer in email, where you can list them out as bullet points. We find that if we’re on the phone with tenants – it’s harder to explain exactly where they should be clicking and make sure they’re following the steps to work out the problem they’re having.
What are the biggest challenges about working on the Help Desk?
I think it’s getting tenants to understand what they can and can’t do on the site and getting them to understand timescales that are accurate. They can’t just go on one day and find a swap the next and they’re also not going to find the exact home they want.
Some people have such a clear image in mind, but that home may never exist; they have to look at what they actually need and be a bit flexible about what they really want. We’re then there to help them to understand how to use the product better.
What’s the best thing about working on the Help Desk?
I think it’s the reward of knowing how many people we’re helping across all the products; it’s the responses we get back to say how many people are finding the home they want, while on PRAH it’s knowing how many people are escaping homelessness.
I also have a fantastic relationship with all my customers – it’s real teamwork getting them through the issues they’re coming up against. When they thank me for the support I’ve given them, it’s a great feeling.
Another brilliant thing about working on the Help Desk is the colleagues I work with; we have a great team. We’ve all worked through quite a lot of changes in the last year, but it’s made us stronger and stronger; we’re really supportive of each other, they’re just a great team to work with.
Why does HomeSwapper matter to you?
It’s our key product, it’s always been the focus of our queries on the Help Desk, so it’s really important to us. It’s a product that develops every day; we always put our input into it and if we ever see any development opportunities or issues, we work with the development team to make suggestions as to how it could get better.
We all work really hard on the product and supporting our customers to use it. It’s one of the products that we all enjoy the most; it’s fun for us to work with and it’s challenging but we’re always thinking, ‘how can we make this better’. We do have sessions on this sometimes, as a team and occasionally alongside customers; we like to think about how it can be there in the future but even better for customers.
Do you have a favourite moment you can share about your job?
I’ve had some fantastic moments in the role, but there’s one really sweet one, where one of our customers was struggling to put up some photos and asked for our help as he was finding the technology tricky.
He sent them over and in every photo of the different rooms of his house, he was there in the middle smiling at us and waving - it made me smile for days! This is such a good example of the loveliness of most of our customers; so many of them want to get onto HomeSwapper and use it properly, but don’t yet have the ability to.
If you could tell swappers one thing what would it be?
They have to have the right expectations when they go onto the site and use the tool for what it’s intended; to help them advertise their home and look for others.
Maps and being able to zoom in on them are also really useful if the tenants know they’re there. When I’m talking with a tenant, I always try to send screenshots so they can know exactly where to click. I would also point them towards the blogs, to get them going in the right direction as much as possible – there’s so much useful information there!