The Dutch digital housing association, Qlinker, aims to turn traditional housing association procedures upside down in order to serve its tenants in the most customer friendly way possible. In order to achieve this, the Qlinker team started from scratch: no existing organisation, no existing IT infrastructure and no legacy systems but instead the tenant as its starting point.
Qlinker (‘klinker’ is the Dutch word for ‘brick’) was established back in 2017 by its parent company Mitros; a large (28.000 units) Dutch housing association situated in Utrecht, in the heart of the country. The initial challenge was answering the question: What would a housing association look like, when set up by Google and built around the customer?
In order to make its ‘what you see is what you get’ principle more customer friendly, Qlinker uses a ‘rental passport’, effectively a tenant ID that contains information on income and family composition. By using this passport, a tenant only gets to see the properties for which they are eligible and requires only to share need to know data. This is aimed at supporting the Qlinker ambition to ‘achieve higher customer satisfaction with lower operating costs.’ Currently, the rental process at Qlinker is already using 44% less man hours than with its parent company, Mitros.
The process is fully digital and has effectively cut down the application time from six days to as little as six hours, sometimes even to a mere ten minutes! Tenants use the Qlinker app for all their interaction – from finding a new (or different) home, signing their contract, paying their rent and asking for maintenance or repairs.
Learning and sharing is Qlinker’s mantra. Its ambition is not to develop new technologies, but to utilise new and promising innovations from startups or other housing associations in order to make the customer journey as simple, smooth and fast as possible. Present IT systems tend to be unnecessary complex; Qlinker doesn’t want to become frustrated by this.
Qlinker has not yet quite met its ambition of being the ‘100% digital housing association’, but is interested in sharing its lessons learned and will gladly ‘steal’ innovations from their peers, both in The Netherlands as well as internationally. Qlinker is a live ‘Innovation Lab’ that allows new ideas and concepts to be tested in real life.
Qlinker is not looking for partners, peers or investors who want to wait for the new world to come and then embrace and accept it with caution. It is looking for those who want to create that new world together with us. Does that appeal to you? Then please contact me: email@example.com