Resident Scrutiny Team Report - Digital Communications Awareness (August 2017)

Published , updated

The team decided to look at how Derwent Living communicate with their customers through digital methods, namely the website. As well as how Derwent Living are raising awareness of digital communication.

As part of their review the RST took part in a variety of methods to gain further information. This included the following:


Looked at a variety of other housing association websites, as well as non-housing association websites, such as utility companies and GP surgeries.

Websites viewed included;

  1. Affinity Sutton
  2. Riverside
  3. New Charter Homes
  4. MiNT Partnership
  5. National Rail
  6. Appletree Medical Practice
  7. E-On


As well as our own website, RST looked at customer portal. Members of the RST attended the Northern Housing Consortium conference and took part in workshops from Halton Housing Trust and HACT around digital engagement.

Performance data

RST met with Marketing Team Manager, Steve Atkin and discussed statistics surrounding digital engagement; average age of DL customer is 41 years old. 86% of DL customers have internet access in some form; the national average is 87%.

The RST were informed that as a result of channel shifting; 37% reduction in manual telephone handling and 82% of rent payments now automated. The DL website has 40,000 page views per month and is optimised for mobile devices, ie phone and tablet.

The RST were informed that Derwent Living smart phone app has 2200 downloads, used predominantly as a reporting tool, with average 100 repairs reported per month via the app.


  • Although there are a number of recommendations for improvement, the RST recognises the hard work that has gone into designing the website and the ongoing work of maintaining the website, in addition to MY, app, etc.
  • Several of the websites viewed by the RST used live chat and this was seen as an effective method for digital communication.
  • When reviewing other websites the RST feel that consideration should be given to the use of colour and appropriate colour schemes, as well as use of search facility and easy to use homepage.
  • The RST found it frustrating when viewing websites, if links do not work or documents/policies cannot be found.


 The RST make the following recommendations: 

  • Explore options for introducing live chat on website.
  • Consider incentives for managing account online and setting up direct debit
  • Include section on website for help to get online (as per Amicus Horizon website) and why customers should go online.
  • Separate area on website for ‘help to pay rent’, financial difficulties and signposting to external agencies who can help with debt advice.
  • Include categories such as ‘favourites’ for rent, repairs – so that they are easily accessible for customers.
  • Homepage/landing page should have easily identifiable options for report repairs, pay rent – using data around most used elements.
  • On website; pay your rent, report a repair; should be totally different colours
  • On website; within repairs section, include information on maintenance and responsibilities
  • In terms of automated repairs reporting, ensure this is not too complicated or lengthens the process of reporting a repair
  • Gas Safety Policy on MY and; ensure all relevant policies are available
  • Reword Account Management on MY to MY Details or MY Profile
  • Policies should be easier to find on website
  • Improve ‘search’ facility to be more accurate – too many results
  • Make sure all job titles and team names are up to date, eg resident involvement team
  • Explore ways of encouraging internet access on retirement schemes; eg wifi
  • Carry out user testing for new website, using focus groups and scrutiny team
  • Website to identify users through login, and show recommended items or recently viewed – homepage specific to tenure types