When Their Most Vulnerable Tenants Needed Them During the Pandemic, This Welsh Housing Association Was There—Thanks in Part to RingCentral
Tai Ceredigion is a not-for-profit Housing Association providing quality homes and other services to vulnerable residents throughout Mid Wales. The organisation reinvests the vast majority of its revenue into improving tenants’ homes, providing quality services to tenants and leaseholders, and improving the local economy by supporting job training and apprenticeship programs.
Lampeter, Ceredigion, Wales
The staff of Tai Ceredigion work every day to improve the quality of life and economic opportunities for the residents of Mid and West Wales. And although the not-for-profit is a Housing Association, Tai Ceredigion has found many additional ways to serve its communities.
In its capacity as a landlord, Tai Ceredigion manages more than 2,000 affordable homes and 140 leasehold dwellings for low-income and vulnerable tenants throughout Ceredigion. The organisation reinvests a significant portion of its income—a combination of rents, a Welsh Government Dowry, housing grants, and private donations—into improving these homes and bringing them up to the Welsh Housing Quality Standard.
But in addition to this work, Tai Ceredigion serves its community in other ways. The organisation supports the local economy by prioritising local contractors, for example, and by supporting job-training opportunities for residents who need them—including the organisation’s tenants.
And when the COVID lockdowns put Tai Ceredigion’s most vulnerable tenants at greater risk, the team was there to help them with extra assistance—from grocery shopping, to offering financial advice, to directing emergency services to their homes.
Part of the reason Tai Ceredigion was able to be there for its tenants, even with the lockdowns affecting its own staff, was that the organisation had recently migrated to unified cloud communications from RingCentral.
“If we hadn’t deployed RingCentral, the important services we offer our tenants would have suffered in the early days of COVID. But on day one of the lockdowns, everyone was on their mobile phones taking service calls as if they were in our call center. That made a big difference for our tenants.”
Assistant Director of ICT & Business Improvement
“Our legacy telecom system was becoming unwieldy and cost-prohibitive to upgrade. So, we asked ourselves: ‘Should we replace the old tin with newer tin, or is this our chance to go to the cloud?’”
Assistant Director of ICT & Business Improvement
Managing too many third-party apps
Since its founding in 2009, Tai Ceredigion used an on-prem telephony system and provided desk phones to all of its in-office staff. But as an increasing number of its employees spending time on the road, the organisation found its legacy phone system lacking.
“Our road warrior staff were often very difficult to get hold of”, explains Gavin Harvey, Tai Ceredigion’s Assistant Director of ICT & Business Improvement. “People didn’t know how to reach them—on their business landline or their mobile numbers.”
An even bigger challenge was that because the organisation’s did not have a unified platform for communications, employees began finding their own third-party tools to collaborate with colleagues via chat, video conferencing, and other forms of communication. “We had a whole patchwork of apps just to talk to each other,” Gavin says. “Everyone was using different tools on their own, and none of those communications were secure or recorded.”
As Gavin sums up the organisation’s goal for its new communications solution: “We were desperate for a unified cloud solution that would integrate everything—phone, video, messaging—into one app that everyone in the company could use.”
RingCentral’s unified communications checks all boxes
When they rolled out RingCentral’s all-in-one cloud communications platform, Gavin’s team began seeing the benefits of the new solution immediately. “For the first time, we could get a hold of our colleagues with one telephone number,” he explains. “We no longer had to figure out whether they were in the office or on the road.”
Another benefit the company saw right away was that RingCentral would significantly reduce the need for travel between locations. “We’re in a rural area, and the drive from our main office to our secondary office can take a while on rural roads, especially if you get stuck behind a tractor,” says Gavin. “As soon as we deployed RingCentral, our teams realised they could hold these multi-site meetings without travelling, just by connecting via video conference.”
Tai Ceredigion’s staff also quickly found many productive uses for RingCentral’s built-in team messaging platform. “We set up chat groups for various teams, like Finance, which really helped communications amongst those teams,” Gavin explains. “In fact, having such easy access to these quick chats with colleagues also eliminated a lot of the email in our inboxes that never really should’ve been email in the first place.”
There for its most vulnerable tenants during the lockdowns
But what makes Gavin’s team most proud about their decision to implement RingCentral is that the cloud solution enabled the organisation to be there for its tenants when they needed the team more than ever.
“We’re not an emergency service, but we do provide support to a lot of vulnerable people in the community,” he says. “The fact that we were able to take work calls from home during the lockdowns… using the RingCentral apps on our laptops and mobiles… allowed our staff to solve a lot of problems and provide a lot of support to our most vulnerable tenants. I can’t recommend RingCentral highly enough.”
Unified platform will even smooth a complicated merger
In 2020, Tai Ceredigion announced it is merging with another Housing Association in Wales. One of the IT team’s concerns as the merger talks progressed was how they would integrate both companies’ disparate, on-prem telephony systems. But now that Tai Ceredigion has had a chance to work with their RingCentral solution, that’s no longer a concern.
“We’ve made the decision to integrate the new organisation into our RingCentral platform, so everyone at both companies will share a unified platform for phone, team messaging, and video calls. It’s such a relief not to have that messy telephony project hanging over our heads. Now we can focus on the important strategic aspects of the merger—like how we can work together to better serve our tenants.”