Service is one of our four core values – and nowhere is that truer that in relation to how we deal with customers.
Three years ago, we joined the Institute of Customer Service (ICS), with the aim of not only improving how we engage with residents but also comparing ourselves with the best private and public sector organisations, such as O2, BT or Tesco.
Over the past year, our resident-facing employees have been doing an ICS-accredited training course to provide them with the skills, tools and confidence to deliver the highest level of customer service.
32% of calls for repairs
- 27% of calls for housing
- 87,800 emails
We know that residents want to interact with us in a variety of different ways, whether that is via their computer, tablet or mobile phone.
While we recognise that we can't entirely replace the face to face services that many of our residents need and value, we are investing in the systems which will help residents engage with us effectively online.
More than 10,000 people have already signed up to our online portal, called MySovereign.
MySovereign is also available as an mobile app, and allows residents to seek advice and support, raise a repair, pay a bill or report anti-social behaviour.
We asked our residents about whether they were satisfied about different aspects of their dealings with us. Generally the responses were very positive, with most responses higher than 90%.
We have adopted a new approach to dealing with complaints, introducing an ICS-accredited training course for frontline employees as well as setting up a dedicated team to own and manage issues from across the business.
While we certainly have a way to go, satisfaction on how we deal with complaints rose to 71% from 55%.
Our aim is to be our residents’ most trusted service provider when it comes to repairs and maintenance, and to keep them safe and warm; to achieve this we have regional hubs that can deliver an efficient, flexible responsive service.
Our residents’ homes are our main asset, so we adopt a ‘right first time’ approach to repairs.
Another area of success this year is the speed with which our specialist teams have made empty homes ready for new residents, dramatically reducing re-let times and reducing costs.
A common theme during the past year has been ensuring a consistent approach across all our regions.
Working with our Residents’ Council and regional panels, we’ve developed common service standards and policies, and we are have received accreditation this year in ISO9001 quality management, which certifies that we consistently provide services that meet the needs of our customers.
We want a flexible workforce that can undertake a range of tasks, and 50 operatives are engaged in a programme to become multi-skilled technicians.
Residents are at the heart of what we do, and our Residents’ Council and regional panels have become a fundamental part of how we work. They help to make sure that their views are considered on matters like setting priorities and ensuring we maintain excellent local service delivery.
The Residents’ Council has 12 members, taken from the different regions, and its chair attends our board meetings as an observer.
The six regional panels work closely with our regional directors and local operational teams. They support the Residents’ Council by having a more hands-on experience of local services and issues.
Our regional panels carried out an important piece of scrutiny work in the summer of 2014 when they checked that the standard of grounds maintenance work done by our contractors - cutting grass, trimming hedges and keeping paths and parking areas clear – was the same across every region, and that we have the right processes to make sure we are monitoring it effectively.
- £198,500 spent by regional panels on local good causes through donations to local charities and community groups that have a positive impact on our residents and the communities in which they live.