Actions speak louder than words in scrutiny
Seeking our customers’ opinion about the services we provide for them – and taking action where needed - is central to becoming a brilliant landlord of homes where people want to live.
Over the last two years more than 50 different recommendations have been made by customers who get involved in our scrutiny activities and from these recommendations we've implemented, or are implementing, 76 actions. It doesn't end there, however, as our Customer Oversight Group monitors actions are working - and expects to see evidence of success.
For instance, we recently turned the spotlight on our policy for installing aids and adaptations to customers’ homes by asking applicants about their experience and as a result we’ve made changes to speed up our decisions and administrative tasks.
Jess Woodley, Customer Scrutiny Team Leader, said: “Getting this policy right is a large factor in our mission statement to enable customers to live independently. So it was important to make sure it met the needs of some of our most vulnerable customers.”
As the policy was due for renewal last autumn the customer scrutiny team took the opportunity to mail a customer experience survey to all customers who had had aids and adaptations added to their home in the previous 12 months.
Minor aids assist everyday life and include grab rails, lever taps and smoke alarms, while adaptations involve more major work such as creating ramps, widening doorways and installing stair lifts.
Feedback from customers revealed the time the process took was a major headache, along with a lack of consultation and communication about the work involved and contractor appointments.
Of positive note, the vast majority said the adaptations made it easier for them to use their home, work completed is of a good standard and staff are polite and approachable.
Comments received include: “Now I can wash myself which makes life so much easier. Very happy with work and grateful.”
“Thanks to these adaptations my child can move around the house a lot easier. I would like to thank Midland Heart.”
After analysing all comments received, a number of changes were recommended including simplifying the aids and adaptations process, as more than 40% of respondents said they found it difficult due to the lengthy time from application to completion.
Customers also told us we could do more to manage their expectations from the outset. One idea was to give customers a breakdown of what aids and adaptations were to be included as a third of respondents told us they believed work was incomplete.
Another recommendation was improvement around communication as this had led to almost a third of respondents saying they were dissatisfied regarding booked appointments missed.
Paul Barker, Head of Maintenance, Assets and Delivery, said: “I worked closely with our scrutiny team to look into issues raised and where we could make changes to bring about a better service for those customers who need aids and adaptations in their homes.
“One key change reflected in our refreshed policy is that recommended aids and adaptations can now be checked against the criteria and given the go ahead by the contract manager rather than have to be referred to the next panel meeting for decision. This had previously delayed decisions for some customers of up to six weeks – and even longer if the panel then asked for further information.
“We are also intending to automate many of the administrative tasks which, again, should improve or speed things up and enable us to offer a more responsive service to our customers.”
The revised process was introduced in March 2020 and is being monitored. Its impact will be reported on in January 2021.
Read a case study below from one of our involved customers who uses a wheelchair about why she feels it's important customers who have disabilities feedback their views on our services.
And to find out more about becoming an involved customer - there are lots of ways to help us shape our services depending on how much time you have to spare and what subjects you are interested in - visit https://www.midlandheart.org.uk/my-home/my-voice/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org