The benefits of involving your customers in your digital telecare plans from the outset
The business case for digital telecare is clear, offering significant benefits for both your customers and your organisation. As you map out a move to digital, it’s important to consider your customers’ role in this – and why you need to make customer engagement a key part of your plans.
Any change to your current telecare offering directly impacts the residents at your properties. After all, they are the end-users of these services. They may already have personal alarms, such as pendants or bracelets, or rely on sensors, such as fall detectors. Whatever telecare equipment they are using to support them in their homes, they understand how this works and are comfortable with it.
Digital telecare can be a whole new landscape for them, albeit one that offers many more advantages. But you will need your customers’ buy-in to ensure that your new systems are successful.
With work underway to move the UK to a digital telecoms network, there is now a stronger sense of urgency to upgrade existing services. We are already seeing changes to the analogue network take effect, making it likely that traditional telecare systems will be compromised ahead of 2025, when analogue will be turned off completely.
Digital telecare is becoming the industry standard, making this the right time to start engaging your customers with the technology.
Bringing your customers on board your journey to digital telecare
Why do you need to make sure your customers are an active part of your digital transformation?
1. To facilitate a smooth transition to digital services
It makes sense to start talking to your customers about digital telecare once this is on the agenda for your organisation. They will be using these services eventually, so engaging them early in the process can help to ease the transition.
This gives you the chance to identify any barriers to adopting a new digital telecare system and build in opportunities to address these proactively before you get to the installation and implementation phases of the project.
Show your customers why you need to upgrade your telecare services, demonstrate how digital technology can improve their lives and answer any questions ahead of installation.
2. To create a positive customer experience
Bear in mind that a new telecare system is much more personal for your customers – this equipment will be in their homes and they will be using it in their day-to-day lives. They are familiar with their current telecare devices, so may feel apprehensive about a wholesale change to what they know.
Taking a person-centred approach, as advocated by the Technology for our Ageing Population: Panel for Innovation (TAPPI), is important to give your customers control over their own environments and care needs.
This can be done by engaging them with the technology in a positive way. Involving them from the start signals that you see them as a key part of the project, avoiding any sense that the change is being imposed on them.
Further down the line, customers who have got to grips with the technology will have a much better appreciation of why you have invested in it. This is essential for those housing providers who have subsidised the project with residents’ maintenance funds. It can also help to overcome any resistance to the idea of digital telecare.
3. To ensure you get the right systems in place
Your customers are the experts in their own lives and are THE key stakeholders when it comes to the digitisation of your telecare services.
It’s therefore crucial to seek their input as you map out these services, so that you can make sure your new systems meet their needs.
In fact, modern organisations are increasingly recognising the benefits of “co-production” – taking a collaborative approach to the design and implementation of services to harness the lived experiences and knowledge of customers and end users. As the National Co-production Advisory Group explains, co-production is “built on the principle that those who use a service are best place to help design it”.
This is not just beneficial in helping you to get your new systems right, but also encourages ownership and adoption of these.
4. To maximise staff efficiency
There will be a transition period once your digital telecare systems are in place.
If your customers already understand how to use this technology, they are much less likely to need additional support from your staff. This can avoid the same questions cropping up repeatedly, reducing time spent managing queries or the need to redo training.
In addition, engaged customers are much more likely to use all aspects of your new digital services. With features that enable them to be more self-sufficient, this can reduce their reliance on your staff. For example, the “I’m OK” feature means that residents can let staff know that they don’t require a visit, while using video calls to communicate is much more efficient.
These features give your customers the means to live more independently, with the knowledge that your staff are there when they need them. Digital telecare also benefits your staff, who can focus their time where it is most needed.
5. To make the most of your investment
Digital telecare is an investment for your organisation, both financially and in the time taken to manage the project. From planning a system that meets your customers’ needs to ensuring they make the most of this, your customers must be on board to help you realise your investment.
In the long-term, digital technology that enables and supports can help ensure higher levels of satisfaction from your residents, which can feed into your offering. For retirement housing providers in the private sector, happy residents make your property more desirable, giving you a competitive edge.
In addition, being able to demonstrate your use of technology reflects well on your organisation as a leader within the housing sector. This gives you scope to continue to innovate and develop better services that improve the safety, security and wellbeing of your customers.
How can you engage your customers with digital telecare?
Involving the residents at your properties in the drive to go digital is essential for the success of your digital telecare project.
We’ve put together a guide to help you, covering when to engage your customers and how your aims with this will change at different stages of the project. We look at how to overcome barriers to engagement, plus what to focus on to generate interest and excitement. There are also tips for planning an engagement programme and pitching your communications correctly.