Annette Mulder (Lefier): Eighty percent of future tenants now sign the contract digitally

Posted by Corporation Media on Friday, June 9, 2023

Tenants and home seekers are not shy about digital processes. Corporations are responding to these expectations by digitizing more and more customer processes. For example, housing corporation Lefier from Groningen and Drenthe tackled the onboarding process in the Digital Welcome project. What was the reason and what is the result? CorporatieGids Magazine spoke about it with Annette Mulder, online services employee.

With the project, Lefier initially wanted to make the process for signing a contract more efficient. Annette: “If future tenants sign their lease contracts digitally, there is more time left for tenants who cannot do it digitally. Just when we were designing this process together, the corona period began and this digitization project was gaining momentum. Everyone now saw for themselves the benefits of online services in practice. So the corona pandemic has helped us in that way.”

Change processes
“The digital onboarding of new tenants starts by entering the contract into the primary system immediately after reviewing the documents,” says Annette about the changed processes. “As a result, 'Digital Welcoming' starts automatically. Tenants receive all documents — including the contract and the first rental invoice — in their customer portal and can sign, pay and find everything there so that everything can be dealt with at once. And because the document check has already taken place, the chance that the contract will ultimately not be signed is very small. Should it not go ahead for whatever reason, we will remove everything from the system again. We consider this to be an acceptable risk. This is a big change from the old situation where much more human action was involved for things like sending the contract and the bill.”

Not digitizing everything
“A lot is digitized when we welcome a new tenant, but not everything,” Annette continues. “Once the home seeker has accepted the property, we will contact you by phone and explain how the drawing process works. During this conversation, we can also gauge whether or not someone can or does not want to do this digitally. In addition, the Rental Department must upload the documents manually. This ensures that the documents are automatically stored in the digital archive and sent to the customer portal. We almost always hand over the key personally in the home. We do this consciously and on the advice of our tenants. During the corona period, they were able to remove their keys from a key box, which was experienced as unpleasant. That's why we insist on a 'warm' transfer of the keys.”

Benefits of employees and tenants
“Fortunately, the expected benefits for both employees and tenants have come true,” Annette looks back. “Employees don't have to do as much manually because, for example, files are automatically stored in the digital archive and sent to the customer portal. The e-mail traffic in the process also starts automatically and the first rental invoice can be paid directly via iDEAL. And tenants can now sign the contract at their own time, quickly pay the first rental bill, and choose a payment method. Thanks to this renewed process, they also see in their customer portal what else they can arrange digitally, such as changing data, submitting various requests and reporting repairs.”

“In March 2021, we went live with this digital process. It is remarkable that more than eighty percent of future tenants are already signing the contract digitally. In addition, the numbers of other digital requests have increased. The adoption of this digital onboarding process went smoothly. I think that's mainly because the process was set up in close consultation between our Rental Department and Embrace — the supplier of our customer portal. And of course, it helps that we have been working with Embrace for a long time and have more of their systems in use. A new way of working always takes some getting used to, but after a few weeks, everyone was enthusiastic about the speed with which the process can now be completed. ”

Just start
For other corporations that want to digitize the onboarding of new tenants, Annette has a few tips: “Don't think too hard. There are always reasons not to get started. In the end, we just started. Tenants who are not digitally savvy or who are unable to sign digitally for any other reason can always come to us in a different way and that will remain the case. But the group that can do it also benefits from this themselves, creating space to give more attention to tenants who need it.”

Digitally skilled tenants
“We regularly read and hear that a large number of tenants would not be digitally savvy,” Annette concludes. “And I also definitely think that we should pay attention to this group of tenants. But let's not think that our tenants are by definition less skilled in this area than the rest of the population. This is also evident from the now more than eighty percent of our new tenants who sign the contract online in their own customer portal.”

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