This week we’re bringing you the second in our Meet the Help Desk series with HelpDesk Support member, Abi. We chatted with her about why she loves her job, what the HomeSwapper tenants mean to her and her own experiences with social housing.
First of all, tell us about your role
I spend my day mostly answering email tickets – these are the queries that customers send in to us. As they come in, they’re placed in a queue so we can make sure we answer on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.
These tickets are for all Housing Partners products, so it can get pretty busy! I’ll be answering queries about pretty much everything except Housing Jigsaw, our newest modules designed for local authority workers.
What’s it like working on HomeSwapper?
It’s so varied! You literally never get the same tickets twice. There are so many different queries, which I really like, as you’re never sure what’s going to come through the door!
Definitely my favourite bit is helping people out with photos for their adverts. You get to see what they’re really proud of about their home, as well as the effort they’ve gone to, to make it look it’s best. I actually spoke with a tenant yesterday who had drawn up three floorplans from scratch! The dedication to swapping there is unreal and getting to see that side of things is really lovely.
I’d say 9/10 people that contact us are serious about swapping and just need very targeted help. Some people are not that technical, so we’ll just make the changes to their account for them; people that we help are so grateful and when they give good feedback it means so much to us!
Talking to tenants is very personal; I love that about working on HomeSwapper. I really like getting to know tenants’ specific situations and people are so appreciative as well when you’re able to help them out. It’s brilliant getting to spend every day chatting with real people.
What are you responsible for on the Help Desk?
All of us on the Help Desk are pitching in all the time to make sure we get through the tickets for each day. As well as that, everyone also has their own specialities; mine is HomeHunt, which is my baby!
How did you get into this job?
I started last March, so I’ve not even been here a full year yet! Before this, I was working in property management with Dot and Tammy at another company (two of our other Help Desk support members). When they got jobs at Housing Partners on the Help Desk, it wasn’t long before they got in touch with me about a position alongside them at Housing Partners. I jumped at the chance and that’s how I started working on the Help Desk!
My previous role in property management meant that I was working with tenants and landlords across London properties. It was all about helping, so very similar to what I now do on the Help Desk. I’ve always been on the personal side of things, and that’s how I like it.
What’s the best bit of the job?
The best part of being a member of the Help Desk is helping people - however cheesy that might sound! There aren’t many people who really love their job, but I absolutely do.
Even though you’re never physically with a customer, you’re still helping them in a very real way. Just knowing that you’re helping tenants means so much. The things we support them with might seem small to us, but they can actually be really important changes to tenants.
Working on HomeSwapper really brings you back down to earth – hearing the situations people are going through and being able to help them out is really special.
Why is HomeSwapper important to you?
Honestly, it’s really close to home. My Mum and Dad are social housing tenants themselves, so it brings it back round full circle for me. I just feel grounded by it – it means I can understand what people feel like living in social housing because I’ve been in it all my life.
I always try and think of this when I’m talking to tenants, as we’re basically in the same boat. I come from it myself, which is probably different to the perception tenants have of me. I’m sure sometimes they think I couldn’t understand their situations, but actually I’m part of it too.
Essentially, it’s important to me because it’s where I’ve come from and now I get to help people with it as well. Can’t get much better than that!
Do you have a favourite moment you can share about your job?
I can’t really think of one particular moment, but it’s generally around what people say when they’re giving feedback. I really love that we get to know first-hand what’s going on in the lives of tenants.
We’re talking with people back and forth, sometimes over a couple of weeks and when they’re keeping you updated on how things are going it’s so satisfying to see the progress. As we chat, most tenants are also giving fantastic feedback; you get tenants that say such nice things to you because of really simple things that you’ve done to help – it’s lovely!
I’ve never had a bad moment on the job; it’s always been a great experience and I don’t ever feel like I don’t want to go into work the next day. We’re such a great team on the Help Desk; we’re small but we’re all on it! We’ve all got the same goal and work together to achieve it. It’s a great place to work; we’re all about helping people.
If you could tell swappers one thing, what would it be?
I’d say be patient and be realistic. That’s one of the main things that we find; some swappers have really high expectations and they just have to be realistic about what they’ll be allowed.
Find out what you can have – do your search with your local authority and then be polite!! Be realistic in what you want and what other people are likely to want and just stay positive. The more information you can put on your account, the better and you’ll find your match! It’ll come; you’ll find the right home when it’s time.