When maintaining social housing properties, customer service and business efficiency are central to delivering the best possible service to both social housing tenants and providers.
Continuous Improvement Means Better Customer Service
In order to learn from customers’ experiences and to continually improve services, feedback information from all sources including inspection reports, customer and client satisfaction, complaints data and KPI reports must be analysed. There is a range of methods to collect feedback on social housing maintenance performance in order to achieve a zero defects target and ensure that the service continuously improves.
Collecting Resident feedback
At RFM we collect feedback using automated SMS text based resident surveys, delivered directly from our in-house works management system.
We also use our 5–Day Touchpoint call back service. This allows our schedulers to contact the resident to gather feedback on each area of the service – such as following-on works, call centre contact, after initial planned works survey, and post-completion. Similarly, customer satisfaction with newly refurbished voids are sent after varying timescales in order to undertake trend analysis.
Collecting quantitative feedback data in this automated manner allows for better trend analysis, and segmentation of feedback against resident profiles, repair types and individual operatives. In addition, where negative feedback is received, a contract manager is able to undertake immediate actions such as arranging for operative re-attendance.
Using Feedback to Improve Social Housing Maintenance Service Delivery
Service Improvement Responsibility: A Contract Manager has the overall responsibility for the analysis of customer feedback data, and the identification of opportunities to improve service delivery. A works management system will assist in this process, allowing detailed trend analysis.
Resident Breakdown: Breaking down customer satisfaction data against customer profiles, diversity information, and individual operatives allows a maintenance company to develop targeted training for operatives, or initiatives to meet the needs of specific customer groups.
Toolbox Talks and Workshops: Analysis of customer feedback can be used to develop toolbox talks and workshops, such as initiatives to teach safeguarding, as well as listening and empathy skills that allow staff to resolve difficult situations. Engaging with disabled residents on our Habinteg contract, for example, provided us with a great insight into the positive and negative experiences of receiving repairs and planned works services in this environment.
Supported Housing Schemes: Working with housing scheme managers, it is important to develop bespoke approaches to satisfaction surveys; both from housing association staff and scheme residents. An example of a bespoke solution would be a “Repair Day” where properties within a small geographic area are targeted to tackle numerous outstanding tasks and repairs.
Complaints Data: Aligning and ‘building in’ a social housing providers’ complaint procedures into the maintenance system workflows and quality processes, ensures customer satisfaction is integral to all maintenance.
Technology can add significant value to complaints management by recording all issues against customer profiles and works orders. Working in partnership with a social housing association to categorise complaints by topic will allow a Contract Manager to undertake trend analysis and implement service improvements.
Monthly Progress/Improvement Meetings: Working closely with Housing Associations and Resident Panels at monthly Progress/Improvement meetings, offers an opportunity to seek customer feedback, provide strategic direction, and establish a consultation forum regarding resident engagement initiatives. These meetings allow joint service improvement plans to be developed, monitored and reported against.
Implementing Social Housing Maintenance Improvements
For most Housing Associations, repairs and maintenance are the single biggest service they provide to their customers. An effective social housing repair partner has a real opportunity to deliver cost savings whilst improving the life of residents.
By getting the basic service right in the first, it enables a repair company to drive continuous improvements in all aspects, reducing costs and exceeding the satisfaction of residents.
Developing solutions that add value for money across the contract life, ultimately result in greater cost savings and higher levels of investment back into communities.
An optimised, sustainable and innovative service for helping Housing Associations to achieve year-on-year improvements and added value should include 3 separate delivery work-streams:
- Zoned ‘Fast Track Responsive’ teams – delivering same day emergencies instead of 24hrs, and the same day void turnaround (Compliance testing)
- ‘Repairs/Scheme Days’ – visit each scheme every 20 days instead of 28 days to undertake appointments for non-urgent repairs.
- A Void and Planned Works team – in-house teams supported by subcontractor partners.
Strategic Customer Service
Using a strategic approach to social housing maintenance leads to:
- Increased Productivity – a thorough Repair Day scheme, increases job productivity and improves KPIs. It also reduces the number of repairs – moving towards a Planned Preventative strategy.
- Successful Appointments – moving from reactive to ‘planned’ maintenance – using a proactive approach to responsive repairs allows more time and cost effective visits.
- Customer security – residents know who is turning up, on what day, technology can also track arrival times.
- Right First Time – achieved by providing the correct materials and skills through accurate stock management technology.
- Bespoke materials – reducing the quantity of manufacturers and moving to similar components, materials for all properties in the long run, will bring added savings, improved right first time delivery and reduced resident disruption.
- Proactive repairs – use a Property MOT approach to pre-empt repairs.
Customer Service in Social Housing Maintenance
Customers are at the heart of all successful businesses, and social housing is no different. A strategic approach to organising maintenace and delivering it, keeping customers informed throughout each stage will lead to cost savings and efficent processes for housing associations.
Data – it’s the engine that drives improvements, promotes efficiencies and generates cost savings. Delivering repair and maintenance work across social housing portfolios and for insurance-related claims is high-volume and varied work that can involve a huge breadth of jobs.