Smart Service

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The key relationship in the housing sector is probably that between landlord and tenant. While tenants’ main concern is to be able to live with peace of mind, landlords set store by efficient processes. Our smart app spans both expectations effectively, providing a convenient all-round service that makes life so much easier. We spoke to Olivier Maizeret from the French Groupe Valophis, one of the first customers to use Aareon’s new app.

As in many other parts of the world, the majority of commuters are staring into their smartphones in Val-de-Marne this morning, lost in thought as trains and buses transport them across this administrative district in the north-west of Paris. However, some of these people could be using their mobile devices to perform tasks that are still impossible elsewhere: they may be downloading a confirmation of their tenancy agreement from their landlord and forwarding it directly to the requesting recipient, establishing the processing status of a damage report, or using a community function to browse an exchange site initiated by fellow residents of their neighbourhood.

in the Groupe Valophis portfolio are occupied by 94,000 tenants.

These options have been available to the over 94,000 tenants of Groupe Valophis since 2016. The company, which operates in the field of social housing, builds around 1,000 new apartments a year in the Greater Paris region, known as Île-de-France, and advises communities and local institutions on social and ecological urbanisation projects as well as other plans related to home living arrangements. In the interview below, Olivier Maizeret, Director for Information Systems at Valophis, reports on a recently launched and particularly smart service offering, the tenant app designed to complement the tenant portal.

Mr. Maizeret, you have been significantly involved in the deployment of Aareon’s tenant portal. How does this app benefit the customer?
Olivier Maizeret: The need for efficient management increases with every new apartment and every additional project. We eventually found ourselves in a situation where the processing of numerous inquiries from tenants was taking up such a large proportion of our capacity that we lacked the resources to tackle other, equally important tasks. Thus, for the past year tenants have been able to use our services and download relevant documents after registering in a section of our website. The smartphone is assuming an increasingly important role in people’s daily lives – both here and, I’m sure, in Germany – and the new app has been designed to take account of this trend.

2,500 users have already installed the app on their smartphone.
Fotos: Thinkstock, Groupe Valophis

Olivier Maizeret is a short-haired, middle-aged man with a friendly air who speaks quickly as he peers brightly at his interlocutor through silver-framed spectacles. He reflects that the scope of his duties has been extended considerably as a result of Aareon’s new app: “I used to be exclusively occupied with the distribution of digital solutions within Groupe Valophis, but now I offer solutions of this kind to tenants too.”

of tenants
are also registered in the digital tenant portal on the website.

How have the tenants responded?
The reaction has been exceptionally positive to date. Our tenants use the app to pay their rent via smartphone and receive an immediate receipt; they can access all the relevant documents in the download section, while the push message function informs them of pending repair or renovation work.

How do you think tenants benefit most from the app?
Communication between tenants and Groupe Valophis used to be based largely on personal contact, such as meetings with the relevant employees at our office. But this type of contact is always restricted by opening hours, and professional people in particular often found it impossible to visit us to pick up a form, for instance. With the new app, tenants can access our service 24 hours a day, seven days a week – wherever they happen to be.

Have you been struck by any particular ways in which tenants are using the app?
Yes, at least one aspect has stood out: tenants are using the mobile offering to complement the existing service. Personal contact with our employees is still the preferred option for some types of business, while the easy digital offerings are proving popular for other types, especially rental payments via smartphone and the reporting of defects in apartments.

Would you like to see tenants conduct all their business online in future?
We would like our tenants to decide for themselves via which channel they wish to communicate. We will always respect their choice.

Are you planning to extend the app?
Yes, we’re busy with further developments now. We’ll be simplifying system log-in and the electronic signature for SEPA direct debit mandates, integrating various forms of payment and digitising payment notices in the near future.

Mr. Maizeret, thank you for talking to us!

An app for the future

The Swedish mobile and telecommunications provider Ericsson published an interesting figure in its Mobility Report for the first quarter of 2016, stating that over 7.4 billion mobile phone contracts had been concluded around the globe.

mobile phone contracts
global population

What makes this figure so interesting is that it is higher than theglobal population of 7.35 billion. Mobile devices are taking us into thefuture: over 55 per cent of the German population already use online services when on the move.

“It is imperative that housing companies take account of this new user behaviour in their customer services.”
Kerstin Hausmann, Solution Manager for New Digital Solutions at Aareon

The company is supporting its customers in this endeavour with a new app for iOS and Android operating systems that is set to be launched in the German market in 2017 and enables Aareon’s CRM portal functions to be used by mobile devices. The existing functions could conceivably be extended in various ways: tenants may soon be able to make car sharing arrangements with their neighbours, or view energy consumption in real-time and compare it with previous years.