Peabody wanted to better understand their residents’ lived experience. Much of their ongoing customer research focuses upon their customer experience in relation to the operational services delivered by the landlord such as repairs and maintenance. Looking to capture a ‘Slice of Life’ of social housing residents, providing insight into the lives of their residents or the challenges they face, Peabody teamed up with IFF Research.
Together, they obtained a library of information, helping Peabody to more effectively communicate with their residents, develop tailored services which focus on residents’ needs, and understand how differences in demographics, such as where a resident lives, their tenure type, their age, gender or ethnicity can have an impact on the challenges they face with employment, and financial, physical and mental wellbeing. The study also paved the way for future large-scale projects within the sector.
About the client
The Peabody Group is a social housing provider who owns and manages more than 66,000 homes and has over 111,000 customers across London and the South East. They have over 150 years of experience and expertise, striving to do things in a way that adds the most value for our residents and communities.
Challenges and objectives
Peabody wanted to expand their knowledge of the lived experience of their residents’. Their continuous research programme by design has a strong customer experience focus, aimed to help them understand more about the services they provide and their customers’ experience. But with a strong focus above and beyond housing provision, Peabody wanted to better understand their customers’ situations. To understand, for example, challenges related to precarious work, digital capabilities, and transport needs.
“Nearly 50% of people living in social housing work in the borough they live in. So social housing actually enables people that we now know as ‘essential workers’ to be able to live near to where they work… Supermarket staff and cleaners won’t travel half way across London because the salaries don’t make it worthwhile, so social housing is providing the ability for people to live their lives.
“Our main continuous research programme was customer service focused, asking about the services we provide. What it wasn’t giving us was insight into who our residents are, what their challenges are and what their lives look like. We don’t just want to be a social landlord, we don’t just want to be developer, we want to be providing services that matter to people. We want to understand our customers better.”
— Warren Earl, Customer Insight Manager, Peabody
Peabody worked with IFF to design a robust questionnaire that would clearly identify some of the challenges their residents face. It was clear that with discussions relating to financial stability and health & wellbeing, the survey would need to be sensitive in its approach, whilst being direct enough to gather accurate, measurable data. The training provided to all IFF interviewers in approaching sensitive issues with customers in a professional and empathetic manner was pivotal to the success of the project.
IFF helped Peabody to develop quotas that would allow for a fair representation of various key groups within the research. As the survey was being carried out, Peabody were kept up to date on a weekly basis about the progress of the research and any challenges that were being realised. Peabody were also able to check the data live through IFF’s bespoke My.Research portal.
Peabody chose to partner with IFF due to their extensive social housing knowledge and the speed of turnaround required, knowing that they always deliver.
“IFF are a fantastic agency to work with. We’ve always felt that there is a strong sense of partnership. Every time they look over something there is always a willingness to advise and provide suggestions. They’ve been very flexible and always deliver rapidly and efficiently. Delivery is always on-point, we’re always kept in the loop and when they say they’re on top of something or say they will deliver we trust that it’s going to be true. It’s been wonderful working with them.”
Warren Earl, Customer Insight Manager, Peabody
Slice of Life helped Peabody to track affordability, understand more about people’s work situations, childcare and transport needs. This has helped them to evidence some of the challenges their residents face, helping them improve services and also present Peabody more effectively externally as an organisation that understands its residents.
It has also paved the way for future studies; including a follow-up piece working with numerous providers to offer interesting insights and help providers draw conclusions.
Created in partnership with Clarion Housing Group, Project SHARE enables the pooling of data to create a more complete picture of the lives of social housing tenants within the South and South East of England. The project helps providers to identify whether their residents are having similar experiences, highlight boroughs or local authorities experiencing more issues and identify successful new approaches. To date, around 10 different organisations have signed up to this project for which IFF has conducted research on behalf of some of the participants, creating consistency in their methodological approach.
“Fundamentally it’s been very useful and it’s practical value for the business has been very high.”