One of the challenges of satisfaction measurement, in any sector, is how best to balance the need for a survey to reflect the unique needs of each organisation’s customers with the need for a comparable benchmark.
The established satisfaction benchmark for the housing sector has been, for many years, the STAR methodology developed by HouseMark. Now, after a significant period of research and consultation, HouseMark has released a report entitled ‘Capturing the customer voice: How social landlords are gathering and using resident feedback in 2019’. You can read the full report online (details at the end), but we thought we’d pick out one or two highlights.
A Comprehensive Review
HouseMark’s review is based on a sector-wide survey completed by more than 250 providers of all types, making it the most extensive piece of research of its kind. It aims to ensure that STAR can continue to provide social landlords with the best possible insights to deliver and demonstrate an excellent customer experience.
The survey has been complemented by regional workshops attended by more than 150 landlords. Significant resident consultation has also been undertaken, with close to 8,000 online responses received and six resident workshops hosted by TPAS throughout the country. This represents one of the largest resident consultation activities in recent years and the findings of these exercises will be shared in October.
HouseMark engaged customer experience specialists Acuity and TLF Research to help deliver the review. Oversight is being provided by a range of sector specialists including NHF, CIH, NFA, ARCH, TPAS, Taroe Trust and CWAG.
The Importance of Customer Voice
Talking about the research HouseMark Chief Executive Laurice Ponting said:
“Capturing the customer voice to improve ways of working and shape services is essential. It is also a key tool to enable the sector to respond proactively to emerging policy direction. The scale of response from across the sector demonstrates the huge interest and enthusiasm from landlords to engage with residents to improve their services.”
“This appetite has been echoed in the overwhelming response from tenants. We have now received close to 8,000 responses, showing a clear desire from residents to be involved and have their voices heard.”
HouseMark’s Business Intelligence and Insight Director Jonathan Cox, who is leading the review, added:
“It’s clear landlords are taking resident feedback seriously and want to use it to drive service improvements, but this research shows that most providers do not feel like they are currently making the best use of this feedback. Our findings set the foundations for the STAR review and will help to inform the design of a modern, relevant and exciting framework for the future that will help landlords drive real service improvements.”
Satisfaction Surveys Today
It’s interesting to see that almost all landlords are using a blend of general customer “perception” surveys and event-driven surveys relating to specific experiences such as a repair or starting a new tenancy. Both types of survey are important, in our view, but getting the right mix is vital for an organisation to meet its strategic and tactical insight needs.
As in most sectors, landlords are increasingly turning to digital channels for their customer feedback as well as for other parts of the customer experience. Response rates are still lower, on average, through these channels, but it’s important to take into account the demographics of those who take part, and to make sure that there is a survey option to suit as many customers as possible.
It’s not yet been decided how STAR may need to change in order to better meet the needs of landlords and residents, but there does seem to be clear consensus that some of the existing STAR questions are more useful than others. Other measures such as trust and ease are popular with landlords, and may merit inclusion in a future version of STAR.
The Future of Housing Satisfaction Research
A first-look at the recommendations for the updated methodology was shared at HouseMark’s Housing Data and Analytics Summit on 1 October at Millennium Point, Birmingham. The draft proposals for the new framework will be shared with the sector in November.
To read the report in full and to find out more about the STAR review, visit https://www.housemark.co.uk/subscriber-tools/benchmarking/survey-of-tenants-and-residents.