No two people are the same, so it stands to reason that no two tenants are the same either.
Within the social housing sector you have tenants with a wide range of opinions, income levels, religions, political views, education levels, and awareness of technology (more on this later). Due to these differences it means a one-size-fits-all approach to how customers are treated is no longer good enough.
A recent Government paper1, reported that the current levels of customer experience weren’t up to scratch, “We have to improve people’s experience of living in social housing, by encouraging greater professionalisation and more of a customer service culture in housing management,” James Brokenshire MP.
Coming up with approaches which will help improve customer satisfaction isn’t going to be easy, especially with such a wide range of customers with varied needs and in different property types. Fortunately the social housing sector is making moves in the right direction.
The rise of Director of Customer Experience and Head of Customer Experience jobs are an indication of the commitment that housing associations are showing to improving standards. These are senior roles, some of which are at board level and they’re coming with (up to) six-figure salaries. Again another indicator of how seriously companies are taking the goal of improving the welfare and experience of their customers.
I took a look through a range of ‘customer experience’ job descriptions currently around in the social housing sector and here are just a few deliverables they’re looking from these roles:
It’s great to see this is the direction that companies are looking to move in. For me, the last point really stood out, because in order for these newly created roles to be successful they need to easily gather feedback and really show that they are acting on it.
The gathering of feedback is an area where technology can really help out, especially when resources won’t allow the gathering of feedback via telephone calls. As mentioned earlier, you’ll have some customers who embrace technology and those that can’t stand it. For those that love technology it makes sense to introduce solutions which allow them to provide their feedback this way. If they like living on their smartphone and tablet, you should adapt to this rather than forcing them to use potentially outdated methods. For example, allowing another avenue to provide feedback that doesn’t involve calling up, waiting on hold etc immediately starts to improve their customer experience (as well as saving your staff time taking these calls).
To help facilitate this, Orchard has introduced a new feature into our Digital Self Service solution. Customers can already pay rent online, set up new direct debits and self-book repairs with this service but we’ve added in Intelligent Custom Forms too.
Intelligent Custom Forms (you can watch a short demonstration of these in the video below) let you create bespoke interactive forms and surveys which make it easy for customers to submit their feedback (ideal for digital tenant surveys or for tenants to submit permission requests). They can be set up in minutes, are totally customisable (with a wide range of question and response types available) and all responses are easily monitored within Orchard Housing. They have also been built with smart conditional logic that allows you to guide tenants through a journey, only answering questions that apply to them, making the process of providing feedback intuitive and quick for customers.
As for ensuring that the feedback you collect is acted on – that’s up to your Director of Customer Experience I guess….