Our complaints performance
We aim to provide an excellent service to our customers. If we get things wrong we want to put them right and learn from our mistakes.
We also want to be open and honest about the complaints we receive and how we investigate and resolve issues raised. This page contains data about the kind of complaints we receive and improvements we have made in response to our customers' feedback.
Acting on feedback
Most importantly, we use complaints to identify areas of our service where we need to make changes, so that the service you receive continues to improve. You can read more below about changes we have made in response to customer complaints.
Longhurst Group complaints: 1 April 2019–31 March 2020
Our approach to customer complaints considers each customer’s personal circumstances and experience.
At the same time as looking at complaints at an individual customer level, we also use this information to compare patterns and trends. We recognise that we need to improve our response times for our customers and to continue to learn from complaints, to reduce the number of complaints we receive.
We understand that complaints about outstanding repairs are particularly emotive and this is an area where we know we need to improve.
From 1 May we introduced a second stage to our complaints process; we also recruited three members to an independent complaints panel.
By expanding the complaints process, there have been more comprehensive resolutions for customers and the number of complaints being escalated to the Housing Ombudsman has reduced.
Types of complaints
Complaints we receive are handled in two ways:
- Informal or 'first-time fix' complaints are issues that can be resolved within two working days.
- If we cannot resolve the problem within two working days, and a solution is not easily available, we will record this as a formal complaint.
The chart below shows the number of formal complaints received and closed between April 2019 and March 2020.
Complaints are classed as 'upheld' when we have:
- failed to provide a service when agreed
- provided a poor service
- made a mistake in the way we provided a service
- failed to meet a service standard
- not followed our policies correctly.
In instances such as these, we would write to formally apologise and explain a way forward.
Note: Of the 963 total complaints received from October 2019 to March 2020, 508 were closed.
Which services received complaints?
This chart shows the total number of complaints (formal and informal) received by different service areas at Longhurst Group.
You said, we did
We always value customer feedback. We take it all on board and look to improve our service based on what you tell us.
You told us that you didn’t always receive a call back about heating repairs, despite being promised one.
Mears were made aware of this through our complaints procedure. A call back system is now in place to make sure calls are returned by the end of each day.
It was flagged to us that a customer was upset to receive a gas servicing stage one warning letter when the appointment had in fact been missed by Mears.
As a result, it’s been agreed to review the wording in the stage one letter and for compliance coordinators to ensure they check the service history with Mears before these letters are sent out.
You told us that there can be long delays in replacing boilers due to a lack of oil boiler resources at Mears.
Mears have now increased their oil resources and restocked in everything needed for oil boilers.
A customer told us the repair for their air source heat pump was overdue.
It was apparent that this was an issue for several customers. Mears have informed us that they’ve now recruited an extra air source heat pump engineer and are offering further training to other engineers
You told us that on occasions, your electrics were not switched back on after a Mears representative had visited your home.
All boiler installers have been spoken to and will ensure switches are back on after any work is carried out.
A customer told us they experienced delays in receiving a refund for the credit on her account at the end of her tenancy and that there was a lack of explanation of the process involved.
This situation highlighted a need for members of the Customer Service Team to be fully aware of end of tenancy processes. It has also revealed that there needs to be a process in place for how end of tenancies should be monitored – in particular if there are reimbursements to our customers. Work is being done to ensure this is the case.
Customers told us they were not aware of what is included in their service charge for Grounds Maintenance and Cleaning.
The service specification has been added to customer surveys.
A customer told us that Mears had attended her home, but had not managed to fix the boiler. There was no record of this on the Mears system.
During our investigation, it was discovered that this information wasn’t available as supervisors don’t record visits to customers’ homes like an engineer would. Mears said they’d change this so all visits are recorded on the system.
One customer had a fencing defect outstanding for over a year and wanted to know why this hadn’t been sorted.
Our investigation showed that Customer Services hadn’t followed the defect process and entered a completion date incorrectly, so it looked like the repair was completed when it wasn’t. The Customer Services Team has now had full training on the defect process, timescales and correctly logging emails sent to developers on the system to ensure a similar situation is avoided.
Wates didn't attend a health and safety incident and the Fire Brigade ended up having to be called to make the area safe.
All information relating to this incident was passed on to our Health and Safety Team. It is being looked into further and all appropriate changes to systems will be made.
Mears attended a customer’s new address but couldn’t uncap the gas as the meter box cover was missing. It took a week for temporary repairs to be made so that the gas could be uncapped.
We discovered that meter box covers were included in the void inspections but not in our re-let specifications. Surveyors have been reminded to look out for meter box covers from now on and our specifications for re-let standards will be updated to include this information