(Vital housing research questions, and what to do with the answers part 1)
One of the big disadvantages of postal surveys was that they rarely asked more than one open-ended question. And while one question can get fantastic answers (my favourite is “If there is one thing that your landlord could improve, what would that be?”) it’s still just one question out of many.
Telephone surveys really score here. Get an experienced interviewer talking to your tenants on the phone, and they can gently probe areas of dissatisfaction to find out what’s really going on. You might be aware that residents aren’t happy with repairs and maintenance, but it takes these kinds of conversations to work out exactly why, and what you can do about it. Are your contractors slow? Are minor but annoying repairs relegated to the bottom of the pile? Are additional problems being caused during repairs? Or is it simply your residents have very high expectations and don’t feel you carry out repairs quickly enough, even when they are completed within the allotted time frame?
The tables and the quotes below tell the story. You might understand that 22 per cent of your residents who are dissatisfied with their home feel that way because of the condition of the property – but reading that heating, front door and mould are the issues for one household alone, or that a resident is cold because windows won’t shut and aren’t being repaired brings home the severity of the problems and precisely what needs fixing.
Figure 1: Reasons why general needs residents are satisfied with their home
Figure 2: Reasons why residents are dissatisfied with repairs service
Clearly, there are ways to ask these questions and analyse the answers which will be most useful for housing managers, which is where we come in: experience really helps.
So when we run a telephone survey which includes open questioning, we’ll have looked at your existing data and discussed any areas where you think there may be issues. Our experienced telephone interviewers will ensure that open ended questions follow lines of enquiry where they are already picking up lower satisfaction rates, and will get information without leading tenants in a particular direction.
We will then work on the transcripts by coding key words and using Wordle to pull out the essentials, so that we can present you with a clear picture of what is happening in a report covering both quantitative and qualitative findings.
Next week, I’ll look at another aspect of the surveys themselves – the use of perception questions – before moving on in the final blog in this series to look at how we use the feedback loop process to create action plans, improve services and improve tenant satisfaction.
As always, I’m really happy to hear from you about any aspect of this, or to discuss how we can support you to carry out surveys or probe any particular aspect of resident satisfaction. As a small but specialist company, Acuity is used to providing a bespoke service to meet the very different needs of different landlords and housing associations, using our many years of experience and accumulated data to help you get – and use – the information you need.