Case Study: EVO and B&D Reside

Michael Westbrook, managing director at B&D Reside, explains the importance of a digital repairs and maintenance approach. Inside Housing then looks at how a pilot in Barking and Dagenham with B&D Reside and tech business EVO improved response times and transparency

Published 13 May 2024


In association with:

In today’s increasingly connected world, customer service in the housing sector is undergoing a significant transformation. As residents’ expectations continue to rise, it is crucial for housing providers to embrace digital innovation to enhance their services.

For B&D Reside, a housing company owned by the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, one area that demanded attention was repairs and maintenance. Previously, our residents had to ring or email the council directly to report an issue. Often, they would face long waiting times, delays in response, and a lack of transparency in the repairs reporting process. These obstacles not only hampered timely repairs, but also created stress and dissatisfaction among our residents.

We made the decision to overhaul our repairs service. We set out to put the needs of our residents at the heart of this service and began by evaluating our customer base. We found that as a smaller provider with a younger customer base, it was easier to switch to a new digital repairs model. We partnered with EVO, a fully managed, end-to-end repairs and maintenance provider, which has enabled us to revolutionise the repairs reporting process and address the pain points.

We tested our new digital approach through a pilot on one of our estates so we could learn what works for our residents and make improvements as needed. Through using the app (pictured below), residents benefited from significantly reduced response times. In addition, the app provides transparency of the process, which has empowered our residents, allowing them to track the progress of their requests and receive proactive updates on the status. All of these factors have contributed to an overall improved customer experience and greater satisfaction.

We are now working towards rolling out this new approach across our whole portfolio.

We encourage other providers that want to make similar changes to listen to residents, perform due diligence on the tech company they’re planning to work with and run a pilot with a limited number of tenants.  

We have found that the right use of the right digital technology has put residents at the centre of the repairs reporting issue. Apps shouldn’t be the only way for them to connect with their landlord, and vice versa – but it gives them an alternative solution which is convenient and proactive in this digital age.

Michael Westbrook, managing director, B&D Reside 

London Borough of Barking and Dagenham

Whenever John O’Brien had a repair that needed attending to in his social housing property, he would report it and then usually wait in vain for someone to get in touch. “You’d get ignored,” he says. That made a bad situation even worse. After all, residents want to know that their landlord is going to fix their problem – even if it is just a dripping tap. 

Mr O’Brien lives on an estate in Barking managed by B&D Reside, a housing company owned by the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. Previously, residents were directed to call or email the council to report repair issues, but Mr O’Brien’s expectations of this service were low.

“You sent an email, for instance, and they’d say they would respond to you within 10 days,” he remembers. “After 10 days, they would look at [the email], then it would take two or three weeks to get someone in... so it could take a month or six weeks to get a repair sorted.”

B&D Reside knew that a big change was necessary to make repairs reporting a more positive experience. So, in June 2023, it began piloting a repairs and maintenance app – supplied by tech company EVO – across 380 homes. Residents upload pictures and a brief description of their repair issue to the app, then select three or more convenient appointment times for a tradesperson to visit. The system then passes this information on to EVO’s accredited trades network, and an appropriate contractor will ‘accept’ the job based on the information provided and time slots given.

The new repairs and maintenance app
The new repairs and maintenance app

In addition, documents and FAQ sections on the app are personalised to the resident, making it easy to access contractor feedback and an audit trail; while customer satisfaction and feedback loops ensure continual improvement to the service. The tech works both ways, too. If, for example, a lift is out, or a gate isn’t working, affected residents can be alerted via the app and updated about the status of the repair work.

Mr O’Brien describes the solution as “a game-changer”, which has “transformed the speed of repairs”. Indeed, the average resolution time has been reduced from 28 days-plus to under six days, while the first-time fix rate has increased to 96%.

Peace of mind

Plus, it gives residents peace of mind about a contractor’s identity. “One of the things I like most about it is the multiple levels of security it offers,” says Oluseyi Megwara, another resident who took part in the pilot. “[You get a message] telling you the name of the [tradesperson] who is coming, so it’s not some random person who can come into your home.”

Resident Sogie Odiawa also welcomes the app and has used it to report everything from cracks in the wall and ceiling to loose wiring. In her experience, tradespeople have ‘accepted’ jobs in less than an hour. “It’s quite quick,” she confirms.

It was a different story before the app became available, she remembers. One night, the tap in her kitchen malfunctioned and water started gushing everywhere. “We had to dig out the folders looking for the welcome pack to find the emergency numbers,” says Ms Odiawa. “Luckily, there were two of us, so one of us was able to (deal with) the water, while the other one was digging out the papers… Imagine if I was home alone with the kids and it was 9pm. It would be a panic.”

Resolution time and first time fix rate

Now, however, emergencies can be reported via the app; and then the resident will receive immediate in-app confirmation that someone is responding to them. Residents who don’t use the app can call the EVO number and speak directly to someone who has knowledge and experience of dealing with emergencies.

The app has been extremely popular, says Cheryl Effiom, EVO pilot project manager at B&D Reside and B&D Homes. In the first nine months, adoption rate reached 80% and, with a customer satisfaction rating of 4.6 out of 5.0 for work completed, the plan is to roll the solution out across B&D Reside’s portfolio.

“Customers are happy with the flexibility it offers,” she says. “They’re happy with the communication they’ve received via the app. They’re happy with the overall repair, and with the speed of resolution.”

Of course, one potential drawback with this type of tech is that it can exclude older or more vulnerable people. So B&D Reside has sent letters and also arranged for EVO’s handyman – who has a regular presence on the estate – to reach out to these residents, provide them with assurances and encourage them to use the app.

Ultimately, the idea is to give residents full control of the repairs and maintenance process and make tradesperson delays and no-shows a thing of the past. “It’s improved the service we offer,” says Ms Effiom. “It’s also ensured residents are at the heart of what we do.”


Related Articles

How To Set Up A Housing Association Repairs And Maintenance Policy

It’s important to effectively manage the repairs and maintenance of your rental properties. We explain how you can create a policy that will benefit both you and your tenants.


What Is The Leasehold and Freehold Reform Act?

The Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill aims to strike a fairer balance between the rights of freeholders and leaseholders. This article summarises the bill, along with its legislative progress.


Awaab’s Law: How Social Housing Providers Can Comply

This article covers everything you need to know about Awaab’s Law. We explain what it is, when it could be introduced and how housing providers can comply.