When the government published its long-awaited Social Housing Regulation Bill in June, it promised to rebalance the relationship between landlords and residents by bringing several reforms into law.
For the first time in more than a decade, the Regulator of Social Housing will monitor consumer standards, measure the quality of homes, resident feedback and complaint-handling, and how landlords engage with residents. This is also reinforced by the Resident Satisfaction Measures (TSMs) decision statement, published in September. The TSMs will help residents scrutinise landlord performance on key areas, assist landlords to improve, and check that they are meeting regulatory standards.
Natasha Kyriakou, Customer and Communications Director, Morgan Sindall Property Services discusses how the bill can bring opportunities for service providers such as MSPS, local authorities, and housing associations to help bring about change and improve resident satisfaction.
Leveraging Data & Insight
When it comes to improving landlord and resident relationships, data holds endless possibilities for the sector in relation to delivering on the Social Housing White Paper reforms.
The reforms concentrate on several key areas, including ensuring residents have a better understanding of how their concerns and complaints are addressed quickly, and that they feel respected and heard.
Capturing this data, and acting on the insight, can help deliver change to services and demonstrate to residents that their feedback is heard, and as a service provider or social housing landlord, demonstrate a willingness to embrace and learn from complaints.
An example of this is using insight from Rant and Rave, a resident sentiment tool which MSPS use across our contracts to identify where in the resident journey the service may be falling short and identify trends. Identifying the key stages of where to obtain feedback creates a complete picture of a resident’s experience. By regularly reviewing the data from this tool it has allowed us to learn where we need to improve, for example: improving communication with residents at certain stages in the customer journey, where complex or further works are needed. During Covid we were able to use the tool to identify if our safe systems of work were being implemented and if residents were satisfied.
Understanding feedback from various stages is especially important where a customer’s journey may be made up of various service providers. Our approach is to be transparent about feedback and work together to resolve issues to provide a better overall experience.
Without the willingness to harness data and insights, and share the knowledge with our clients, we won’t be able to learn, improve and ultimately deliver a better service.
Finding New Ways to Engage
The bill should not be looked upon as a box ticking exercise, and instead a chance to find innovative ways of engaging with all residents, not just those already involved.
It’s not enough to just rely on a survey – a more creative approach is needed. Many organisations are embracing a channel shift, finding alternative ways to engage and communicate with residents. With technology evolving, many traditional ‘in person’ involvement activities are moving online through a digital approach.
By bringing in new methods such as online forums, virtual groups, and social media, we can also get a varied mix of residents that bring different views. In many cases we tend to rely on the same few residents, instead of widening the reach and increasing the representation of the resident voice. Most recently, we worked with Longhurst Group to host a virtual meet the contractor event which invited a wide range of residents to provide feedback on the service, what could be improved and to keep them informed of key updates.
By going digital we can involve more residents on their own terms, without losing sight of the importance of face-to-face interaction.
Embedding a Resident Centric Culture
Improved resident engagement only happens if there is a resident centred culture embedded within organisations.
The benefits of prioritising resident experience are endless; better communication, improved experience and satisfaction, and better employee motivation, as they feel more empowered to place the resident first. This mindset needs commitment from senior leadership, to be truly embedded in company values, and be part of employee incentivisation schemes.
At MSPS, it important that:
- All employees from leadership to our operatives are aware of the role of resident engagement, the role they play and the benefits it can bring
- Outcomes from resident engagement are monitored, measured, and reported consistently and regularly
- We must celebrate and share achievements in resident engagement
- The focus on resident engagement is included in recruitment, induction, training and performance appraisals
With the introduction of the Social Housing Regulation Bill, we have an opportunity to make extensive and innovative change to how we deliver resident engagement across social housing. We need a culture in organisations that anticipates, listens, and actions resident feedback, and a more innovative approach to gathering feedback and harnessing data and insight to continuously improve our services.
Residents have a right for their voices to be heard. Positive resident engagement can go a long way to making that happen – let’s grasp that opportunity today.