Getting the most from satisfaction – business performance and VFM

We asked Denise Raine from Acuity for her list of top tips for housing providers to consider when planning a resident satisfaction survey:

  1. What are the aims of your survey
  • Why are you carrying out this survey – what are you trying to achieve?  Unless you have clear aims and objectives you will not know if you are collecting meaningful data that can be used effectively to ensure you are providing services or opportunities that are necessary, efficient, and demonstrate value for money.
  1. Good survey design
  • Who are you surveying? Use appropriate styles, length, content and language.
  • Question order & response – have you got it right? Are you putting people off with sensitive, difficult or irrelevant questions at the very beginning?
  • STAR is flexible – adapt questions to your own processes and customer service standards.
  • Ask probing questions.
  • Collect permission to re-contact about any issues raised in the survey or if they want to take part in a focus group.
  • Open questions can be very useful to collect rich qualitative information – how many “open” questions would be useful/appropriate?
  • Most residents are happy for the results to be non-anonymised – explain why you are asking the questions.
  • Survey length – too long or too short?
  • Make every question count.
  • Don’t ask things you already know (age, tenancy start date, etc.).
  • Equality & diversity – can everyone take part? Are there any groups who will be excluded? What can you do to make sure they have the opportunity to participate?
  1. Get the methodology right for your residents
  • What form of contact do your residents prefer?
  • Consider carefully all the options available and their effectiveness.
  • Be careful not to over-survey your residents.
  1. Understand data protection and MRS code of conduct
  • Ensure individuals have a very clear and unambiguous understanding of the purpose(s) for collecting the data and how it will be used.
  • Ensure consent is obtained from the individual for their data being collected at the point of collection, and that they have the opportunity to opt out.
  • Keep abreast of any changes to current rules requiring a higher level of consent from individuals to process personal data and a requirement to record explicit evidence of that consent.
  1. What will you do if you get a low response rate?
  • What options have you considered to boost responses?
  • Have you considered what it could mean if your residents do not want to engage with you?
  1. Who is going to analyse your data?
  • Will this be done in-house or by an external contractor?
  • If carried out internally how will you ensure accuracy and representativeness? For example, do you know how to access whether the data needs weighting?
  • What do you want in terms of outputs – top lines, key-drivers, sub-groups (demographic, geographic, diversity, tenure, bedroom size, etc.).
  1. Promote the results and make full use of them
  • Let your residents and other stakeholders know what you have found – both good and bad – and what actions you are taking as a result.
  • Fully analyse survey results.
  • Follow up with research,  focus groups and workshops where necessary.
  1. Benchmark them with other landlords
  • How do you compare with social landlords of a similar size, type and location? Make the most of SPBM and HouseMark.
  1. Action plan across organisation
  • Involve the Board, the staff, scrutiny panel and resident panels.
  1. Develop a medium-term customer engagement strategy
  • Engaging with your customers will assist the organisation in responding effectively to changes in needs, behaviour patterns, expectations, perceptions, etc.
  1. Repeatability
  • Have you set targets?
  • When can you next carry out a survey?
  • Is it worth carrying out smaller regular surveys?