Unified communications are offering housing associations more effective ways to liaise with tenants and residents. Jonathan Sharp explains the world of WebRTC

Before the internet and mobile phones revolutionised the world, communication was pretty simple. If you couldn’t speak to someone face to face you’d phone or send a letter; if they didn’t respond you’d call repeatedly, send lots of letters, tear your hair out and give up.

There are now more ways to communicate than ever before, but more doesn’t always mean better. What housing associations and tenants want is to communicate more effectively, rather than hitting the same brick wall from lots of different angles using various methods of communication.

WebRTC (real-time communications) enables a free and seamless transition between virtually every type of communication you can think of. Britannic’s version of this is called Webcall. It is extremely useful for housing associations looking to offer a wider range of online services as part of their digital transformation agenda, and equally useful for tenants who want to access information and communicate with their housing provider but don’t have the time, money or patience to endlessly ‘replace the handset and try again’.

To illustrate WebRTC imagine you have a tenant who accesses your online services through a tenant portal and needs help to fill in a particular form. Through WebRTC they can communicate with you via a pop up ‘chat’ box. Back at the call centre you will be able to see the web page they are on and physically show them what they need to do. Either of you could, from your respective computers, phone the other entirely free of charge. If the same tenant happened to have a problem at home, they could flip to a video session and show you exactly what and where the problem is.

If WebRTC isn’t part of your vocabulary, it soon will be. It is now being built into the mainstream offer of all the major manufacturers and by 2020 it is anticipated that 60% of internet users worldwide will have connected through WebRTC.

It is genuinely intuitive and simple to use and you don’t need to buy an expensive phone system. It can link to any telephone number and any computer user – you click buttons, you chat, you call and you share browsing sessions and videos. From a set up point of view it is three lines of code which drops into the website so it is not a difficult or lengthy process.

Of course, WebRTC has to be right for your organisation and for your tenants but if you are looking to introduce online services it will enable you to navigate and support tenants so that by the time they hang up their virtual phone they will have filled in that form, paid that bill or logged that repair. Job done.

Jonathan Sharp is sales and marketing director for Britannic Technologies Ltd is an award-winning specialist in voice communications, systems integration and managed services and one of eight suppliers on the Telecommunications Framework. For more information visit www.btlnet.co.uk

The current Telecommunications Framework runs until 19 September 2020 and covers three lots. Free demonstrations of WebRTC are available. To find out more about accessing WebRTC through Lot 1 of the framework, please speak to Max Parker on 01925 737 680 or email mparker@pfh.co.uk