Chasing Pavements

Taking the leap of faith from focusing on numbers to Customer Feedback is a big step forward in understanding the underlying performance issues in your organisation. It’s time you stopped chasing pavements and actually instigated meaningful change and improvements to the services you provide, based on what your customers are telling you.

It Was only Supposed to Be a Simple Job

When you think about it Housing Associations have a pretty simple job. You charge rent to the customer/tenant/resident/who the fuck cares, in return you agree to do certain repairs. Additionally you agree to cyclically upgrade the main facilities to mitigate against stock depreciation and general wear and tear. If neighbours can’t get along you try to keep the peace. Depending on the culture of your organisation you will also provide a wealth of auxiliary services designed to help keep customers/tenants/residents/who the fuck cares in their homes/sort their shit out.

Simple, right? Well, no. We have a way of making things wonderfully complicated. Key of which is the repairs question. Not least of which because we can’t decide to keep our repairs services in-house or out of house. Akin to Planned Maintenance works, this cycle is utterly predictable. Like the hokey-cokey, but a bloody expensive version. The thing is, the measures you use to monitor the performance of either contractors or in-house staff are largely the same. You’ll still have the same issues, missed appointments, incorrectly stocked vans, wrong trades turning up etc, et-bloody-cetera. However, unless you put the voice of the customer, and their customer journey (puts 50p in bullshit bingo swear pot) front and centre you won’t see the problems at hand through all the figures.

Seeing the Wood Through The Proverbial

You’d be forgiven for believing that we are entering into a ‘post-facts’ age. With both sides of Brexit campaigns using rumour, misinformation and gossip over substantiated fact. And with Donald Trump being, well, Donald Trump. But actually we’re using data, figures and performance measures more than ever before. Simply watch some old school footage of George Best in his heyday and compare it to the stuff you get bombarded with during a game these days. Failing that, look at what you can bet on. It’s ridiculous.

The same can be said for Housing Associations. Via housing management systems and tied-in external pieces of software, there is so much performance data you can quite easily get paralysis by analysis (puts another 50p into bullshit bingo swear pot). You can also get drawn in by the sweet Siren’s song of numbers, glorious numbers. Be careful here weary traveller, endless debates over the minutia will take away from the bigger picture.

Tying it all Together

It might sound like stating the blooming obvious but if there are regular, repeated trends in Customer Feedback you might want to look into it. I know we’re British and like a good grumble, but people don’t tend to moan without good cause. If your customers in one area or with one contractor are always moaning about missed appointments check your hard data. If there is a hard data spike on the same topic, have some ‘awkward conversations’* with staff/contractors until the pattern in negative feedback stops. What you mustn’t do is simply try to bump up the figure in satisfaction by tweaking measurements/definitions of satisfaction. This helps no-one, sort out the Customer Service issue and the number will look after itself. Fail to do that and history will be doomed to repeat itself.

Consequently the key to ultimately improving performance and Customer Satisfaction is to tie-in Service/Business Improvement processes to both your hard and soft data. This is often more of a challenge than identifying the root issues. Because, as noted previously, organisational culture is not something you can change overnight. If you’ve always chased pavements, you will continue to do so until forced otherwise. But by pro-actively using your various datasets to identify Customer Service problems AND THEN insitigate meaningful change, based on what customers are telling you, in addition to hard data metrics, you can’t go wrong. Well, unless your Customer Feedback methodlogy and reporting mechanisms are utter bollocks, but that’s a completely different kettle of fish. Regardess, those are the basic principles to stick by.

As ever, you can find more of my stuff here and follow me on Twitter here.

*These can be akin to “What the fuck is going on here, chap/chapess?”

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