Written by Kate Roberts, Associate Director

Trust and transparency are the new key drivers of satisfaction

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Landlords are always looking for key drivers of satisfaction. Satisfaction scores tell you if you are delivering a housing service that is fit for purpose and valued by your residents. To continuously improve your services, you need to understand:

  • Why does satisfaction increase or decrease over time?
  • What is causing dissatisfaction?
  • Why do residents feel the way they do?

We invest a lot of our time into looking at the data we’re gathering for our housing clients and uncovering the key drivers of satisfaction (and dissatisfaction) – and crucially, how they change over time. In the last year, for example, we’ve noticed a shift in the drivers of satisfaction with transactions. It has moved away from how quickly (or late) a repair is done, or even if the repair is completed right first time, toward communication and respect.

This means residents are being kept up to date, being kept informed, and feeling like they are valued and respected. The trend is evolving from a transactional relationship to a trust relationship with good communication at the heart. Here we set out the trends we’ve identified, the questions we’re asking to unlock further insights, and the steps you can take to improve trust and transparency in your resident relationships.

One size fits one

Showing your customer that you recognise them as an individual is at the heart of building trust. You won’t always have the same staff member dealing with a customer, but you can help the resident feel like you know who they are. Your customer relationship management (CRM) systems are a great way to do that, documenting each interaction and checking your records to understand a customer’s needs as a first step.

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”

 Bryant H. McGill

Take ownership

The second way to help build that trust is to acknowledge what the resident is feeding back to you. Acknowledging and taking ownership about what you’re going to do next with that issue, really does help residents feel better about the transaction you are conducting and the landlord relationship overall. Even if they’re not able to receive the outcome they were hoping for, acknowledging their concerns and keeping them informed along the way can help customers to feel supported and listened to on their customer journey, which is likely to increase their overall satisfaction.

Digital relationships have had an impact

Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, digital transformation in communication and ways of working have accelerated. Many (if not all) of our customer interactions are remote, making the personal connection with customers matter more than ever. We must make sure the personal relationship is woven firmly into the way that we’re delivering services – even through digital means.

Honesty is the best policy

Be transparent – your open and honest communication about what you can and can’t do will set a customer expectation that you can meet, and the resident will understand and appreciate.

“I don’t mind if a repair is going to be three or four weeks, but don’t lie to me, don’t tell me it’s going to be this week, we both know that’s not going to happen. I’d rather you’re just honest with me.”

Social housing resident

Listen and act are separate and distinct

We’ve updated our question bank to improve insight around listening and acting on feedback, including two benchmarkable questions, asked together:

  • Do you feel that your landlord listens to what you’ve said?
  • Do you feel they are acting upon the feedback you’re giving them?

Of course, it is critical to give your customers a platform to voice their concerns, but you must also be able to demonstrate what you’re doing once you’ve received that feedback. This active feedback loop is continuously spinning and doesn’t stop — checking with residents, listening to their feedback, acting on what you’re being told, and telling your customers what you’re doing as a result of their feedback.

When you read the social housing white paper, the central pillar is about resident voices being heard. But “being heard” and being listened to are very different things. Hearing is passive; listening is active. Engaging in two-way communication, by listening and taking on board their feedback in a responsive way improves measures of respect and satisfaction.

“Recent studies we have carried out showed customers had become disengaged with their landlord because of previous lack of response to expression of dissatisfaction.”

Kate Roberts, Associate Director, IFF Research

Explaining next steps

We’re encouraging landlords who ask the benchmarked question for completing a repair “right first time” to pair this with a follow-up question, “Did the operative explain to you what would happen next before they left your home?”.

Do you have this level of feedback loop, where operatives are able to do this? Asking this simple follow-up question helps you understand whether your operatives/contractors are communicating next steps, how residents feel about the communication they’ve received, and the steps you can take to improve that communication.

Trust and transparency are fundamental

To continuously improve your services, it’s important to incorporate active listening and proactively taking on board the feedback you receive. These actions are the simplest and easiest ways to improve trust and transparency at your organisation. A culture of effective and open communication is central to a positive resident relationship that lies at the heart of customer satisfaction.

For information on how we can help you improve trust and transparency, contact our housing team.


About Kate Roberts, Associate Director

Using her many years of experience working within the social housing sector, Kate works with housing providers to maximise their opportunities to engage with their residents, ensuring they gather valuable insight in how to improve services and their overall customer experience. Her unique expertise has helped organisations to produce robust, effective, and impactful customer-focused strategies and processes.