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  • Writer's pictureDominic Ridley-Moy

Using behavioural science to tackle everything from repairs reporting, to debt to fire inspections

Behavioural economics can help provide solutions to many of the problems facing social housing providers today.

From encouraging residents to report repairs online, to managing debt, to getting access to tenants’ homes for annual fire inspections, behavioural frameworks provide tools that encourage tenants to make better choices.

Here are some of the easier things you can do, to get started.

Make it attractive, get people’s attention Every day we make something like 35,000 decisions, so when we want to get someone’s attention, often the last thing we focus on is the envelope in a mailing to residents.

Yet it’s the first thing that people see when it’s comes through the door, so it’s important to grab people’s attention and get this right.

Will you be in on November 24th? Asking residents, “Will you be in on November 24th?”, without any other explanation, is a novel way to attract attention, around annual fire door inspections for example.

Managing debt and finances

With issues like debt, people have a tendency to ignore letters as money problems mount up, so a message like "We are here to help" can encourage people to engage more so than no message or one about being fined if you don't pay.

Letter design Letter design is also often hugely overlooked. According to eye-tracker research from Royal Mail, we pay 2.5 times more attention to the front of the letter than the back, so if you are encouraging residents to use online services rather than ring you or email, make sure you website is on the front page, and the telephone number on the back page.

Make sure,

  • your letter design is simple, attractive and easy to understand. Put actions on the right, in line with the headline. This gets more attention than elsewhere on the page.

  • it's really clear what steps people need to take to pay, apply or report online. And then user test it, ideally with residents.

  • you spell out using really simple graphics and text. Some colour but not too much is ideal.

These are some simple tips you can start using today but if you’d like to chat more about how behavioural insights can help your organisation, do book a zoom chat with me.

Download my presentation to the Housemark Repairs and Asset Management Club, 19 October 2022

Behaviour change session Housemark
Download PDF • 4.09MB

Interested in a Behaviour Change Masterclass? We are taking bookings now for January 2023. 5 weeks to become a behaviour change expert. > Find out more >

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