Clarion Housing Group (Clarion) wanted to dramatically boost engagement with their customer base, and give them access to all the services they need, whilst at the same time improving service levels.

Highlights

Design icon

Built on Sitecore 9 & Azure IaaS

Know your visitor icon

1% increase in online resolution of customer cases

Devices icon

Improved mobile customer experience

Campaigns icon

Over 2 points TrustPilot rating increase

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30% increase in registrations

Payment integration icon £

23% uplift in payments

Challenge

With 70% of their transactional customers accessing their services via mobile devices and a poor existing mobile experience, along with objectives to drive cost savings throughout the business with a channel shift from call centres to digital self-service, Clarion required a new online account product to allow customers to manage their home via the device of their choice, including easy ways to make payments, update details, request repairs, and get in touch.

Clarion’s new website, against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, has seen significant increases in registrations, payments, online case resolution, and customer satisfaction scores, which the team expects to improve even more over the coming months and years.

Solution

Working as the technical implementation partner in the ”Better Homes Consortium,” a group which included Clarion’s in-house digital team and the experience design partner, Splendid Unlimited, Codehouse built the new digital platform, using Sitecore, the world’s leading digital experience management software. Clarion has been a Sitecore customer for a number of years.

Following a proof-of-concept in order to demonstrate the multi-site capabilities of Sitecore, which would provide a perfect foundation for Clarion’s digital aims, Codehouse built the new Housing Association website from the ground up, deploying a highly stable, best-of-breed, Sitecore 9.2 solution, with Sitecore JavaScript Services (JSS), in Azure IaaS.

Sitecore was the perfect choice to meet Clarion’s digital platform objectives of:

  • Re-usability in application and infrastructure
  • Industry-leading accessibility
  • High performance, stability, and extensibility, with the potential for innovation
  • Simple and easy-to-use
  • Total customer focus with the ability to personalise content and services
  • Seamless and robust integration with third party systems to drive a perfect end-to-end customer experience

The solution sought to address Clarion’s key operating challenges by introducing efficiencies in every area, starting with a re-considered and re-designed online presence with an Online Account for customers to manage their accounts and tenancies.

In order to provide customers with a seamless digital experience, Codehouse configured complex integrations between Clarion’s back-office systems, third parties, and payment providers. This enabled a fully-automated and easy-to-use self-service experience, reducing the need for users to interact with call centres and customer service personnel – particularly through the introduction of LiveChat and chatbot – and ultimately helped to meet Clarion’s channel shift objective.

As with all digital platform development initiatives, stringent data handling and compliance with legislation for security and data protection were fundamental system-design principles from the outset. Privacy by design and by default influenced key decisions around application and integration-point design, as well as Cloud architecture and hosting.

For enhanced resilience and scalability, the chosen hosting provider, supported through Codehouse Managed Services, was Microsoft Azure in the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model with a three-tier architecture featuring WAF Application Gateway, SQL Elastic Pools, Azure Cache for Redis, Solr Cloud cluster and Azure CDN with replication in alternate regions for failover in case of disaster or disrupted services. The end result truly showcases the flexibility, capability, and benefits of platforms running on Sitecore in the Cloud.

To ensure a smooth launch, Codehouse developed custom journeys to easily migrate existing website users onto the new website. This ensured customers could transition to the new website with a far better user experience and a richer feature-set, with minimal disruption.

Clarion customers now have a highly personalised digital experience, with their data providing invaluable insight into trends and service requirements, used to tailor the end-user experience. Additionally, as an operational high-priority item especially during uncertain times, Clarion has the capability to quickly and regularly update customers with notifications for service availability and general information.

Towards the end of the initial Housing Association website implementation, the team made full use of the multi-site capabilities of Sitecore, and launched the first of many microsite implementations – Love London Working – a replacement for an existing website, and part of Clarion’s cost-saving initiative which effectively re-used components from the main Clarion design system. The design system from which the Sitecore implementation is based, is multi-brand, runs to the component and module level, and re-uses design and functional components and modules.

As the programme continues, it will see the consolidation of all brand sites on Sitecore. As of June 2021, the Better Homes Consortium will have built Latimer Homes on the platform, with the Group website to follow by the end of March 2022.

Your Clarion
A personalised experience

On top of continuous improvement and product development, Codehouse provides Clarion with ongoing operational support through complete Managed Services and a variety of other post-production services in the digital marketing domain, including Analytics and SEO consultancy. Using valuable data pulled from Google and Sitecore, together the team are working on continuously optimising and enhancing the digital experience for customers.

By choosing to adopt the Sitecore JSS headless technology as part of the technical strategy at the outset, based on established long-term ambitions, the opportunities for innovation across multiple platforms in the future have been enabled and continue to drive initiatives as the digital roadmap evolves. Channel shift and content distribution over a wide-variety of mediums and devices continues to be a priority and is enabled by the versatility of the platform, powered by Sitecore.

Our latest project, by the Better Homes Consortium, is for Latimer by Clarion Housing Group, the property development arm of Clarion. It is a lead generation website for people who are looking to buy a house. This new website takes advantage of the highly re-usable modularity of the platform, whilst driving Latimer’s own unique, high-end end-user experience.

At the time of writing, we are excited to announce that we will soon be releasing the features to the Housing Association website from the Online Repairs Experience Optimisation project that will allow tenants to book appointments, get updates on active repairs, and make changes in real-time. Clarion already handle 4.5k repair requests every month and expect this to be a major driver both of channel shift and registrations.

Clarion login features
Clarion login features

Results

Clarion’s new website is meeting all their objectives. It has significantly boosted engagement levels with their customer base, increased service levels, improved the mobile experience, and driven considerable channel shift.

Within just 6 months of launch, the new site has delivered 13,000 new registrations – a 30% increase from 34k to 47k. This surpassed the team’s KPIs.

Payments through the new site have increased from 57% to 80%, boosted by the Covid-19 pandemic, but also thanks to the improved customer experience, especially on mobile.

The new site has also delivered a 1% increase in online resolution of customer cases. Not only this but Clarion’s TrustPilot rating has improved almost 2 points – from 1.4 to 3.3 – thanks to the introduction of LiveChat support.

Outside the improvements in metrics, the Sitecore platform has also delivered multiple benefits to Clarion internally. The implementation of call-back forms and conditional logic has enabled the routing of queries to dedicated teams to answer customers’ questions quicker and more efficiently, ensuring a higher level of customer service and satisfaction.

Optimisation is planned to deliver aggressive growth in registrations (16K) and resolutions (3%) over the coming year, and trials of the new personalised updates feature have delivered a strong 400% increase in customer engagement with campaign content, which all bodes well for a successful future for Clarion.

Visit the new Clarion website at www.myclarionhousing.com

Despite working remotely through lockdown, Codehouse and Splendid have established themselves as trusted partners - part of Clarion’s extended digital family. Working together on a continuous development and optimisation basis, and taking advantage of our re-usable design system is enabling to us to develop and launch new sites and features at pace – and the results speak for themselves. Simon Nash, Senior Digital Product Manager, Clarion Housing Group

About Clarion Housing Group

Clarion Housing Group provides good quality, affordable homes and neighbourhoods to people failed by the market. With 125,000 properties and more than 350,000 residents, they are the largest housing association in the country.

We look forward to the coming year, as we plan to use personalisation to offer more relevant experiences to customers, launch new services that will make our customer’s lives easier – all the while delivering back to the business in terms of savings and efficiencies. Simon Nash, Senior Digital Product Manager, Clarion Housing Group