SOCIAL housing providers need to learn from organisations like Amazon and Royal Mail if they are to meet the expectations of their tenants, says a new report.
A poll of almost 6,000 social housing residents shows that more than four out of five people (82%) expect the same level of service as they do from other companies. And they expect it, because they’re paying for it.
That’s the main finding from the new report, Great Expectations, commissioned by social housing provider Acis, which owns and manages more than 7,000 properties across the East Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber.
Acis joined forces with seven other housing associations in what is said to be one of the largest studies of its kind in the UK.
“We commissioned this research to better understand the expectations of our customers and see how we might be able to adapt to meet those expectations. Ultimately, we want our customers to be happy with the service they get from us,” said Greg Bacon, Acis’s chief executive.
“The message has been received loud and clear. Customers simply want to receive a good service. They want things to be done quickly and they want to be treated with respect.
“And while it’s important that providers continue to pursue digital methods of communication, many customers still want that face-to-face human interaction. Great service should happen irrespective of the way it’s delivered.”
The report reveals the top 10 qualities of great service in social housing: repairs; speed; maintenance; listening; communicating; problem-solving; keeping promises; timeliness; customer service; and respectfulness
On the back of these findings, Acis says it is making a series of recommendations for itself and other providers, as well as government, to implement – including to learn from and benchmark against organisations outside of the social housing sector.
“Housing associations need to recognise they do not operate in a bubble – in a social-housing-only world,” Bacon added. “They need to remember that from their customers’ perspective they are just one of hundreds of organisations their customers encounter daily. There is a perception that it was accepted in the past that people in social housing should accept the level of service they get because they often get their accommodation paid for. This needs to change.”
The other housing associations participating in the research were Gentoo, Midland Heart, Orbit, Regenda, Riverside, WDH and Yorkshire Housing.
The report can be downloaded from the Acis Group’s website.