This September marks one year since we carried out a series of enhancements to our HomeSwapper platform, designed to improve the usage of the service by users. Our ‘swappers’, as we call the tenant users of HomeSwapper, had been voicing concerns that there were users on the platform that were either dormant and therefore unlikely to swap, or active but simply not responding to message queries. It was felt that this minority of users were negatively impacting the experience for the majority – something had to be done!
HomeSwapper is our flagship service, the UK’s largest mutual exchange platform for the social housing sector. It’s a service the whole organisation is extremely proud of, having made a difference to the lives of hundreds of thousands of families living in social housing. We recognise however, that the service is only as good as those who use it, so just over a year ago, we turned to our swappers for their thoughts on how they would like to see the issues with inactive users addressed.
Suggestions were plentiful and alongside our HomeSwapper development team, we narrowed it down to the changes that would be most impactful, whilst ensuring fairness to all users. The focus was put on three key developments:
- Upgrading the messaging functionality
- Improvement to the user badge system to helps other users understand at a glance if a swapper is serious about swapping or just browsing at that time
- Greying out adverts of inactive users
The first improvement meant that in order to use the full functionality of the HomeSwapper site, including starting new messages to users, writing on users’ walls and viewing other users’ contact details, swappers were compelled to respond to all their messages. Unread messages were shown in red and if they had not been responded to, these functions would be locked to them.
First enhancement: the messaging function
This enhancement saw almost immediate results and when we checked in back in the Spring, the numbers were impressive, with 83% of swappers who had logged in that week, answering 100% of their messages – up nearly 50% from before the changes were implemented. Moreover, 5m+ messages were sent from 350,000 users who had logged in over ten million times!
Building on that success, the most recent update proved an instant success, garnering great support and feedback from swappers across our busy Facebook page. HomeSwapper users who had not logged on for ten weeks had their profiles and adverts greyed out, making the search and matching process far easier, as users could see at a glance who they were most likely to get a response from when making enquiries.
Third enhancement: greying out of adverts
Our swappers responded to this last enhancement with huge enthusiasm. Here’s just some of the responses we got:
“I’m sure it will save myself and thousands of others from wasting time contacting swappers that are most probably window shopping or already moved.”
“I’ve found it extremely useful after I realised why they were greyed out“
“It’s brilliant! Makes it so much easier!”
“I noticed! It’s about time something was done about that, so much better thanks!”
In addition to the changes to the system itself, a website designed solely to support tenants to use HomeSwapper was launched. HomeSwapper.me has a comprehensive help section, a weekly blog, the answers to all the questions swappers ask us, ‘how to’ guides and videos that take them through the main functions of the site and a search bar so that tenants can find out if their housing provider will financially support their use of HomeSwapper. Since its launch, the site has had over 100,000 visitors looking for more support and information.
Landlords were also given their own site, HomeSwapper.UK, which carries an extensive Resource Centre complete with booklets, leaflets, help guides and other marketing information to help them work with tenants on HomeSwapper.
We’re extremely proud of the input every member of the team has contributed to the continual development of the HomeSwapper site, demonstrating the company-wide commitment and re-investment into HomeSwapper that makes it the leading mutual exchange service. Every day, our thriving community of swappers are testimony to that fact, ensuring that we continue to move onwards and upwards.