Our approach to customer involvement and engagement is hugely important to our Group and has just celebrated its first birthday. Peter Phillips, chair of our Homes Board, which oversees the work of our housing associations, explains how your voice has helped transform the services we provide.
I value the opportunity to meet with customers to hear their views and recently attended an event at our Shrewsbury office to do just that which was both informative and enjoyable.
An event like this supports our vision is to be an excellent provider of homes and services, enhancing the quality of life for our customers. We know that we need to do that in partnership and one of our key commitments is to listen to your views and engage you in all that we are doing to provide great homes and vital services in our communities.
We do this through Let’s Talk – a range of different ways for you to get involved with our work which have been developed jointly by customers, board members, and officers.
These approaches, which help ensure our board members hear your voices and are influenced by your views, include:
- The customer panel and virtual panel (Severnside Housing/SSHA) - made up of our customers, these panels regularly review policies and procedures either face-to-face or via an online forum.
- The scrutiny panel (Severnside Housing/SSHA) - this customer-led panel reviews areas of the business agreed by the management team and Homes Board.
- Transactional surveys (Severnside Housing/SSHA) - conducted by us, these ask customers about their experience after receiving one of our services.
- STAR survey (Severnside Housing/SSHA) – this is a biennial independent customer survey into our homes and services.
As well as opening up ways for you to get involved, the board and customers agreed six core commitments, giving our residents a role in shaping the services we provide. Twice a year a special focus event takes place, when customers and board members look at the progress we are making to deliver on those commitments.
The event I recently attended was one of these focus events and highlighted some of the main achievements over the last 12 months:
- Together with the virtual panel, the customer panel has reviewed a number of policies including a new antisocial behaviour policy in May 2018. As a direct consultation with both panels, 13 changes were made to the draft policy before the final version was approved by our board.
- The scrutiny panel has completed five projects to date bringing about many positive changes on behalf of our customers, including changes in contracts i.e. out of hours and gas contractors. Customers told us they were not happy with the service levels, identified waste and opportunities to do better. We took this on board and ensured this was embedded into out next contracts.
- As a result of the transactional survey program and subsequently the scrutiny panel review of Robert Heath Heating, a new contractor, Phoenix was introduced and initial results from the 2018-2018 surveys are very encouraging.
- More than 4,000 customers took the time to get involved in the Star Survey and as a result of their feedback, several issues were raised as a concern for the board and our executive team. One of those areas of concern was the level to which customers felt they could get involved and receive information about the group. The launch of Let’s Talk originated out of that feedback and is just one example of the changes we’re making as a result of customer views.
Customer advocate and board liaison Dawn Yapp-Altinsoy said: "I find the experience of meeting with the homes board members really valuable. It’s great to know our opinions really matter and are listened to."
We would love you to get involved in our work – please contact customer panel officer Valerie Cooper on 01743 285220 or email firstname.lastname@example.org