Landlords Learn from Experts at Osborne Customer Experience Event

Social landlords must seize the opportunity to improve their approach to customers, or risk missing the chance to effectively diversify into new areas of business.

An expert panel also warned housing professionals at an event on Customer Experience, organised by Osborne Property Services, that tenants were receiving improved service in other sectors and would increasingly expect the same from social landlords.

David Williams, Senior Associate Consultant at Campbell Tickell, said: “Customer experience is not as developed as it should be and generally housing organisations have some way to go to adopt an approach that puts the customer at the heart of how it develops strategy.”

He added if landlords wanted to successfully diversify their businesses into areas such as telecare, leisure or private renting, they had to treat placing the customer experience at the heart of their service delivery as a “business imperative”.

The UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI), the national measure of customer satisfaction published by the Institute of Customer Service, shows that housing associations, as a whole, score lower for customer satisfaction than the national average (all sectors) with a score of 67.8 (out of 100), compared to the national average of 76.3.

Jo Causon, Chief Executive of the ICS, said: “We need to hold a mirror to ourselves and ask if we are really doing the things we say. Customer satisfaction is getting tougher and if I look at those top-performing landlords they are handling this, but are all organisations doing this across their businesses?”

“What is great about successful organisations in other sectors that housing providers can learn from? The whole direction of organisations like First Direct is about driving the customer service agenda consistently. They are not just doing it because the regulator says so, or because their competitors are; they are doing it because they know it is the right thing to do over a sustained period,” Ms Causon added.

Graca Machado, Customer Experience Director at Osborne Property Services and who has recently joined the business from global logistics company TNT, said social landlords could learn from the approach in other sectors and highlighted measuring the correct indicators as an example.

She said: “What doesn’t get measured doesn’t get fixed. We need to have measures for customer experience and these have to be the right measures, such as the emotional needs of customers.”

Will Hughes, Business Excellence Director, Osborne Property Services, said that Osborne’s progress in following this approach was reflected in the fact it has seen its client satisfaction score rise from 55 per cent to 80 per cent in the past three years, as assessed by the ICS.

He added that Osborne’s next step was to launch its ‘in touch’ system to ensure it was able to fully capture customer interactions for its customers across a variety of channels, including social media. It will use this to build a clear picture of the customer experience of using the repairs and maintenance services Osborne provides.