Written by IFF Research

Customer journey mapping in social housing: See your services through your customers eyes

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As we increasingly look to engage with and empower residents, it’s never been more important to see your services through the eyes of your customer. One tool which enables this and is becoming increasingly popular is customer journey mapping. By following each customer touchpoint, from the first to the last contact, you can see what they see and understand how activities and resource allocation impacts on overall satisfaction.

In today’s article, we discuss how customer journey mapping can help social housing providers, providing practical tips to get started.

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Fundamentals of customer journey mapping

A customer journey mapping exercise is an in-depth examination of the services you provide through the lens of your customer’s experiences.  Putting those activities and experiences into a chronological order creates a visual representation, or a customer journey map.

Often in business, we create process maps to understand how resources are used and activities are carried out.  The customer journey map allows an organisation to understand how those internal processes are perceived by their customers and can show points of customer effort and irritation so improvements can be made.  The map can also be used to demonstrate which of your business processes are working well for customers, giving insight into “what good looks like” to understand your customers and their expectations.

Customer journey mapping in the social housing sector

Customer journey mapping is important for housing providers because it provides valuable insight into how your business is perceived, from what is typically an imperfectly balanced relationship.  Residents have little oversight or power to take their business elsewhere, so it’s critical for landlords to view their business processes from the viewpoint of their customers.  This provides additional valuable scrutiny of their service provision, allowing for improvement in underperforming areas and sharing best practice in areas that perform well.

No two maps are alike

A customer journey map is a graphical representation that reflects your current customer touchpoints, from the beginning to the end of a particular process or interaction. For example, in a responsive repairs journey map, you will review and document satisfaction with:

  • Effort in reporting repairs
  • Effectiveness of the contact centre
  • Appointment processes and systems
  • Repair operative effectiveness and manner
  • Follow-up appointment handling

Interviewing your residents to understand their satisfaction across these key customer touchpoints will highlight dissatisfaction in the customer journey, allowing you to direct attention and resources to a specific point in the journey.

For an example of a customer journey map that documents the Universal Credit Journey of Karbon Homes customers, click here.

Practical ways to use a customer journey map

Customer journey maps can be used throughout any business improvement tasks as they reflect and project the voice of the customer throughout your operation, helping you to:

  • Identify pain points and prioritise fixes
  • Identify new opportunities to gather customer feedback
  • Identify areas in which you can introduce innovation or new technology
  • Effectively plan changes to your service while reducing negative customer impact
  • Identify opportunities for signposting or offering residents additional support services
  • Reduce services that aren’t necessary or valued by customers
  • Inform your action plans and work groups with the voice of the customer
  • Create compelling customer stories for your reports and newsletters

Improving your services through customer journey mapping

One of the key end goals to this process is improving the services you deliver to your customers. Mapping can help you identify how you are managing customer expectations throughout the customer journey and allows you to improve communications when things don’t go right.

It helps you understand gaps in your service provision that are driving satisfaction figures down without your knowledge.  It shows you the gaps between the desired customer experience – and the once actually received.

Journey maps enable you to create action plans and highlight the priorities that matter most to your residents. And you can concentrate your efforts and resources to maximise your efficiency and effectiveness – delivering a value for money result.

Getting started in customer journey mapping

The first stage of your customer journey mapping project requires careful preparation.  You need to define your research problem to make certain your customer journey map satisfies the requirements of your business and your residents.

This is likely to include considering:

  • Why – what is the aim and purpose? Are you looking to increase satisfaction? Or reduce costs?
  • Who – Who will have an interest in or need for the findings? Who are your key stakeholders?
  • What – what outputs do we need from this process? A report? An action plan?
  • How – How will this research influence services? What is the outcome your seeking?

Tell your story

Bringing together your research programme and your customer journey map helps you convey complex information to key stakeholders in a compelling and logical way.  We can illustrate this with an example of service improvements made as a result of seeing through the eyes of a customer:

23% of customers reported dissatisfaction with the system for allocating repairs appointments. Much higher levels of dissatisfaction compared to the other measures, identified appointments as a key area for improvement.

Further analysis tells us that dissatisfaction is highest for households who work part time, yet this group have no more appointments missed than any other.

When we explored the suggestions for improvement in this area, we found that customers would like 2 hr appointment slots, or a text message when the operative is on their way, so they don’t have to take a whole day off work, or wait in all day for the operative to arrive. As a result of identifying this pain point, we were able to help this provider increase satisfaction with customers who work.

Further guidance is available

If you’d like to know more about how to conduct a customer journey mapping exercise, or find out how it could help your organisation watch our free customer journey mapping webinar, available to watch at your convenience.