This week we supported National Customer Services week run by the Institute of Customer Services (ICS).
In the world of ever increasing numbers of awards and accreditations why do we still do this? Well the ICS is an organisation full of creative
ideas around customer contact. So it’s about recognising that there are ways to make that contact work best for everyone.
At Soha we have always tried to start from where the customer is. If they are happy that’s great and we ask them to get involved with us; if dissatisfied, we encourage them to tell us why and we’ll act or explain why - in some cases - that’s not possible, and check with them about our other services.
With a 45% net promoter score (would you recommend us to a friend?) which measures loyalty rather than satisfaction this benchmarks well, and satisfaction with us as a landlord was 91% at year end. But as our residents remind us, a score doesn’t tell the full story and to those not satisfied, we could be a long way out!
Residents want to be treated as individuals with their own circumstances and they want choice. Don’t we all?
The Social Housing Green Paper recognises that stigmatisation is still implicit in the way social housing tenants are talked about. Is it perhaps implicit in our services too?
For instance, like many housing associations we try to help people into work, but are we really geared up for the financial pressures our ‘in work’ residents’ face with short term work contracts, and limited access to loans in a crisis when a life event hits them.
Inside Housing indicated in its April article ‘Who are the housing apprentices?’ a 46% increase in the number of housing association apprenticeships in the past five years – though more women are needed in these roles.
But in addition to our valuable apprenticeship scheme, we need to address homelessness too and this week Soha signed up to the NHF ‘Commitment to Refer’ to make a positive, public statement about ending homelessness
As a newly established mutual organisation, our members tell us they want us to take a whole community approach. Our older residents have expressed concern for younger people and their future, and young people have become Dementia Friends in our aim to become a dementia-friendly organisation.
In case this sounds like motherhood and apple pie in a world of financial priorities, it’s not. It’s about safeguarding, tackling homelessness and ensuring our neighbourhoods are places where people want to live - now and for the next generation.
So we are listening with ears open to calls, to drop-in customers (yes we still have these and even more since we joined the Safe Places scheme to support lost or vulnerable people) alongside promoting the new Soha app, online self-service and embracing technological change.
And long may it continue.
Director of Customer Services and Operations