Putting your Customers at the Heart of Innovation in Social Housing
03 / 05 / 2024

Putting your Customers at the Heart of Innovation in Social Housing

To enable HAs to start implementing a more resident-centric approach, engaging with customers and improving services, we first need to consider the landscape we’re currently wrestling with.

At the start of April 2024 we saw the introduction of the new regulations come into force, with dates for housing association inspections already starting to come in. Coupled with this, we’re still dealing with the cost of living crisis, the enormous impact of supply chain costs and scarcity, the rent cap and the fact that the cost of borrowing and materials is so much higher.

With the decarbonisation targets to hit and building safety challenges, especially for those organisations with a high density of high-rise properties, an ageing stock profile and significant competing demands for asset investment, it’s not necessarily going to be an easy thing to fix.

What are the challenges?

All of the challenges mentioned above mean the sector needs to start getting ahead of the issues. So, what are the main issues that need dealing with?

  • Housing Ombudsman cases
  • Damp and mould issues
  • Complaints
  • Contact centre call volumes
  • Misaligned technology
  • Readiness for inspection-style IDAs
  • Media coverage
  • Talent drain
  • Digital immaturity
  • Vacancies and absence
  • Escalating costs
  • Too much data in too many places

The sector as a whole needs to take a step back and look at the issues that need addressing. When looking at dealing with call volumes in contact centres, for example, it’s not a case of digital by default being the answer, it’s about making it work for your customers, about giving options that will help to unlock capacity. There have been many examples of misaligned technology over the years, where ‘fixes’ have been put in place, bolt-ons added that don’t talk to existing systems and end up making it more difficult for your customers to get in touch with you. This is the perfect time to take that step back, look at some of these unintended consequences and start understanding your customers’ needs and preferences and start to put things in place that will help. The sector is fairly digitally immature as a whole, so looking at what new approaches can be designed and implemented is key.

What are the new consumer regulations and how will they help?

On the 1st April, the new regulations will be live and the new inspection-style process will be underway. There will then be a C grade (Consumer), a G grade (Governance) and a V grade (Viability). The additional grades, along with the enhanced enforcement powers (greater fines and strengthened consequences with shorter notice periods) will see housing associations held to a higher standard to ensure customers are receiving the experience they deserve.

In addition to the consumer regulations are the four new consumer standards which are:

  • Safety and quality
  • Transparency, influence and accountability
  • Neighbourhood and community
  • Tenancy

These four standards will help to transform the customer experience for the better. They will naturally introduce a duty of care that associations will offer residents for them to work better together.

Where to start with working better with your own customers

To successfully implement effective and positive changes to your own structure, it’s important to align everyone with the same goals and objectives:

  • Knowing your customers - sentiment, insight, data, learning, engagement
  • An integrated approach to engagement and scrutiny
  • Real-time data, assurance and knowing where you stand
  • Technology roadmap to achieve customer outcomes
  • Customer-led service delivery model
  • Two-way communication to keep customers connected, engaged and assured
  • Aligned change programmes

You can get in touch with us today to discuss how we can help you build trust and unlock capacity.

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