Listening to residents has been at the heart of my career for over 20 years now, and I believe recent events are going to make this an even more important activity for social housing providers.
We will have to wait to find out whether the official Grenfell enquiry considers to what degree residents’ views were taken into account by the tenants’ organisation in Kensington and Chelsea – but at Acuity, we believe resident satisfaction correlates with how well landlords understand and respond to their needs, and that done properly, this can also improve value for money.
So, as we start to think about projects for the autumn, helping landlords refine their understanding of tenants’ views is high on our priority list.
One thing we will encourage more is looking at open text comments in our surveys and helping you to understand what weight to put on them. We believe landlords will now want to respond particularly quickly where there are concerns, particularly if there are health and safety implications.
We also anticipate that channel shift is about to become much more of an issue, with all types of surveys migrating online as landlords look to maximise value and effectiveness. As I discussed in my blog a few weeks ago [Surprising facts about on-line surveys], there are implications around this which need to be managed, in particular our finding that participants generally report lower levels of satisfaction when responding online, no matter what their age, background or gender.
Going online opens up all sorts of exciting possibilities about closer tracking of residents’ satisfaction. With our expertise and access to comparative data, you’ll be able to overcome the difference between the previous and current survey methods and understand how data from the new approach fits with your previous findings.
We’ll also be focusing on transactional surveys and in particular our Repairs Tracker, where we’ll contact your residents within a week of jobs being completed, helping both you and your subcontractors make sure the service is working as well as possible and moving swiftly to ensure tenants are happy.
In a linked development, we’d like to help landlords look at the impact of the new tenancy agreements which include only specified repairs. Are these cost-effective? Are residents happy with the trade-off between service and cost? Could resident reaction be more positive, with slight service tweaks?
While my personal expertise lies in creating and interpreting meaningful surveys to help landlords understand tenants and get the highest possible levels of satisfaction, that’s only one area of the support Acuity offers.
My colleagues and I work as a team to offer different areas of expertise around social housing and customer research. So, this autumn we will be offering a range of services, which we can usually adapt to your specific needs. Mark Anderson continues to deliver our popular SPBM benchmarking offer which now includes the new Sector Scorecard. Steve Smedley is our in-house expert on Value for Money (VFM) and regulation, while another associate director will work with us on how to ensure tenants are happy while saving money.
We’re also keen to help landlords understand some of these issues better, and plan a series of specialist courses around housing research issues in the run-up to 2018.
As always, we’re about providing expertise, personalised service and excellent value. We’re keen to hear from you about where and how you’d like us to help with your business intelligence and analysis, helping you get happier tenants and improved value for money as we move into the uncertain months of late 2017.