The latest Housing Ombudsman report which reviewed service complaints between 2021-2022, has highlighted that one of the biggest complaints is that more action needs to be taken by landlords to improve the quality of homes and service.
Social Housing landlords undoubtedly face many challenges currently from upgrading their properties to meet minimum energy efficiency standards, to maintaining compliance with new regulations such as the Fire Safety Act and Building Safety Bill. Add to that the fact that many will still be experiencing the legacy impact from Covid restrictions, and the backlog of repairs and maintenance work that was created, it is easy to see why some landlords may be under-delivering on their repairs and maintenance services currently.
So what can landlords do to improve their repairs and maintenance service to tenants?
There are many areas for consideration here, including how to improve workforce efficiency and first-time-fix rates, but in this blog we will be focusing solely on the aspect of communication.
Transparency is key
Customer service has changed in recent years with well-known companies truly putting the customer at the heart of everything they do. This has led to customers’ expectations changing across all of their customer service interactions.
So what do truly customer obsessed companies such as Amazon and DPD do to deliver such excellent customer service?
They communicate at every milestone in their customer’s journey.
And this point is something that every service organisation, including Social Housing providers, should review and look to enhance, to make immediate improvements to their service delivery.
In the same way as finding out when your parcel will be delivered, keeping your tenants informed throughout every step of the repairs and maintenance process will empower them with insight and transparency which will help to build confidence and forge a positive relationship.
The devil is in the detail
In order to ensure that accurate job information is shared with your operatives, a phone conversation with the tenant is essential to diagnose the work required or alternatively, they can be referred to an intuitive customer portal that allows them to report and troubleshoot issues independently. When accurate diagnosis of the repair work is completed effectively, the job can be prioritised accurately, and operatives with the right skillset and van stock can be assigned, to give you a greater chance of achieving a first-time fix every time.
Having a solid understanding of the issue in advance of the appointment, you’ll have a clearer idea of the parts that will be needed to successfully complete the job. Field service management software can be a beneficial supporting tool in this instance because it can record and track van stock levels, and assign jobs to your operatives based on their recorded skills and qualifications.
And when it comes to achieving a first-time-fix, the success of this relies on both parties – the landlord and the tenant. But there is a lot landlords can do to try and positively influence their tenants.
Tell tenants when their upcoming repair appointments are by sending them SMS or email alerts at different time points in advance. This will give them a better chance of keeping their appointments as they have the information to hand.
Additionally, today, people are accustomed to being able to track their services, such as when their deliveries will reach them. Offering live operative tracking as part of your repairs and maintenance service could offer several benefits to your tenants. As a result of being able to track their operative on the day of their appointment, your tenant is more likely to be in at the right time, so your no-access appointments will be reduced, and more repairs and maintenance work can be successfully completed. This will also reduce tenant frustrations around waiting for your operatives to arrive, as they will be provided with information in advance and even more accurately, on the day of their appointment, so they know exactly what time to expect them.
It’s a two way relationship
Once an appointment has been successfully completed, a customer service questionnaire can be sent to tenants via email or SMS, to gather immediate feedback on their satisfaction around the work that has been carried out. By gathering instant feedback in this way, you can continue to improve your service delivery and react quickly to resolve any issues if required.
Making a positive change
By taking inspiration from well known customer-obsessed companies, and taking steps to improve your tenant communications during the repairs process, improvements can be made to the quality of your service delivery and subsequent satisfaction of tenants.
Using an effective service management system will provide a lot of the supporting tools needed to enhance your customer service throughout the repair and maintenance process. For example, with Oneserve, communications can be automated and workflows can be customised to help you achieve this.
Our purpose is to deliver software that contributes to improving the lives of people living in Social Housing across the UK. We are a trusted housing specialist, committed completely to the housing sector and we have worked with housing providers and contractors over the past decade.