Improving Communications Through Our Maintenance Solution

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  • Agile
    Efficient communication channels, reducing steps to get information across
  • Support
    Ensuring that our resident feedback is heard and actioned
  • Service
    Providing a best-in-class service to residents
  • Reliability
    Getting the job done whilst keeping residents updated
Unipol previously managed their entire student accommodation system on an access database and then migrated over to bespoke web-based software until they went live with StarRez. Their previous system enabled them to manage repairs and emailed tenants once the repair was added on but that’s where the communication channels ended. There were no follow-up options, no updates were able to be provided if the repairs were taking longer than expected and there was no real opportunity for residents to provide feedback on Maintenance services. Without an App, the whole experience caused ongoing issues for both Unipol staff and their Residents. Which is why Unipol were keen to implement the Maintenance solution with StarRez and customize this to suit their own unique requirements.

Current Maintenance set up

Unipol currently have six stages to their repairs process: requires action, actioned, awaiting parts, further investigation, left off test and completed. Unipol also prioritize all of their repairs from Emergency to Urgent, Non urgent and Planned.  As well as this they also have published timescales to keep residents updated on the progress of repairs and maintenance jobs.

Steps that Unipol implemented

Emails to tenants

“Having residents log repairs via the Portal is a useful tool as it provides a resource for them to be able to see updates with repairs and also review previous repairs”

Andrew Livesey, Assistant Chief Executive - IT and Communications, Unipol

A maintenance job can be created in StarRez through residents reporting items on the portal or staff logging them in StarRez Web. When a repair is added there are three emails that go out to residents: actioned, job status and then completed. Unipol were able to set this up using a data subscription.

Notification of Repairs for shared spaces

For repairs that occur in a communal/shared area, Unipol wanted to identify a way to update all residents who have access to those shared spaces because often the resident reporting the issue may not necessarily update all house or flat mates who have access to the shared spaces. Creating a solution to update residents who have access to shared spaces also meant that there would be less duplicate repairs logged. Unipol identified that the StarRez Room space ID will allow you to identify anyone else living in the same shared flat or property, enabling you to link repairs for shared spaces.

Unipol were able to set up an email template using a function called EACH, which allows you to return multiple results depending on what criteria is set. As Unipol were trying to email lots of residents at once, this was really helpful for identifying multiple users within StarRez.

External Contractors

Unipol have one house maintenance contractor, meaning that they also use a lot of external contractors and have to get information over to them for the repairs that need to be carried out. They use the StarRez Contacts functionality to upload the contractor’s contact information, which will then allow you to add that contact to a maintenance job. They also have a data subscription in place which sends an email to the contractor assigned to a specific maintenance job once it has been actioned and a contractor is assigned against that specific maintenance job. A data subscription is then also used to send an email with details of the maintenance job to the contractor.

External Contractors Feedback

Unipol’s in house Maintenance contractor now uses the app on a device to work through all of his maintenance jobs each day, this enables him to have all of the information that he requires in one place.

“The App is super easy for our maintenance contractor to use”

Andrew Livesey, Assistant Chief Executive - IT and Communications, Unipol

Unipol also wanted to provide a way to get feedback from all contractors into StarRez following the maintenance jobs being completed. They have managed to create an email template and a web form using a query string and they also use a query string as part of the email template (query string website address that allow you to pass data). As part of the website URL that can be used to pass data, Unipol then uses this to complete a web form. They can update job statuses, add any comments that are required or plan the next onsite attendance.

Unipol are also using the API integration with StarRez to take the feedback element a little further. They use Umbraco, which is a content management system that allows the web form to be pushed through to where it needs to go. Andrew highlighted that the data then goes through Microsoft Azure which has great functionality where you can write bits of application in the Azure web cloud. You can also have multiple job actions against a single maintenance job and the system will automatically updates residents via email.

“We were able to create an ‘Occupant present field’ flagging that tenants don’t mind being present whilst the maintenance job is being completed, this can allow maintenance jobs to be completed in a shorter timeframe”

Andrew Livesey, Assistant Chief Executive - IT and Communications, Unipol

Plans to take this customization further  

Unipol are wanting to take this even further and would like to gather feedback from tenants on maintenance. They are currently testing this initiative by sending text messages to tenants which links to a web form that then follows a similar process to the way that they are collecting feedback from Contractors.

“It’s important to Unipol to gather overall satisfaction from their tenants on maintenance work by contractor as well as development”

Andrew Livesey, Assistant Chief Executive - IT and Communications, Unipol

If you’d like to learn more about implementing maintenance and communications across your business, please contact the StarRez team today.