How customers have helped to shape our re-let standards policy
At Longhurst Group, we value the feedback from our customers as it helps us see what we’re doing well, but also where we can improve the services we’re providing.
Recently, customers took part in a scrutiny exercise of our re-let standards policy, looking at complaints, feedback and best practise in other providers. They suggested a range of future specifications for the policy, all of which have been accepted by the Group.
Here, we talk to two of the customers who were involved in the scrutiny process to find out why they got involved and how much of a difference they feel it’s made.
Sinead lives in Rushden with her two children. She experienced issues with her home when she first moved in and said being involved in the scrutiny of our re-let standard was an opportunity for her to make improvements for future fellow customers.
“I was actually approached by Longhurst Group and asked if I wanted to be involved,” she said.
I had quite a few issues when I first moved in and they took a while to get sorted, so I think they wanted me to support the process and I was keen to be involved to ensure others didn’t have a similar experience.
“I really enjoyed the whole experience, even if it was a bit of a busman’s holiday for me as I work in governance. I was able to utilise a lot of the skills I use professionally in the project and I tried to take the emotion out of it.
I’m really pleased that our recommendations have been taken on board. For me, the proof that the scrutiny process has been successful will come further down the line once there’s a reduction in complaints.
“Previously, there was a focus on turnaround time rather than quality and, hopefully over time, there’ll be an impact on this. That’s what I want to see, along with a more satisfied customer base.
“If anyone else is considering getting involved in scrutiny processes, either with Longhurst Group or other organisations, I’d say most definitely get involved.
“It’s very easy to be critical of how things are done, yet not getting involved in helping to make changes.
I feel that we were listened to in this process and it was a really interesting project to be involved in.
“There are things that aren’t right in all walks of life and without customer feedback, things won’t change. We all need to support scrutiny processes to help make those changes.”
Angela lives in Northfield, Birmingham and is a member of our Customer Forum. She became aware of the re-let standards policy scrutiny and wanted to get involved.
“I’d had problems with my home when I first moved in, so I felt my experiences would be very useful to help to know what needed to be changed,” she said.
“We looked at other housing associations’ standards and felt it would be a good idea to have the same standards throughout Longhurst Group.
I wanted to get involved because my property was deemed ready to let, but it took a week to get it to a reasonable standard.
“I must admit, I thought the scrutiny review would be the usual tick box exercise – many organisations say they want to know how the customer feels, but in reality they don’t.
“I enjoyed the experience as it’s nice to be listened to and feel that your opinions are valued. I’m happy with the results.
I’d recommend other customers get involved in scrutiny reviews at Longhurst Group. It makes no sense to complain about things and then not get involved with making changes when asked to.
“It’s worth getting involved and making your voice heard.”
Below are the recommendations made following the scrutiny process and how we’re planning to implement them.
Our response: A new lettable standard document has been drafted which is much clearer and includes photography which depicts acceptable standards.
Our response: We agreed with this excellent idea and have combined this exercise with our pricing review. As with all our policies, we’ll also add a review date to the front of the document.
Our response: Kitchens and bathrooms will be decorated in empty properties for cleanliness and hygiene reasons. Teams will decide on a case-by-case basis if further decoration is required, based on customer need.
Our response: We’re looking at enlisting customers to inspect the quality of empty properties and to help ensure the new standard is being applied.
Our response: All compliance issues are and will continue to be monitored when properties become empty before they’re let again.
Our response: Within the new process, we’re proposing that some repairs could be completed after a property is re-let, providing this has been agreed with the incoming customer. This should be minimal, but also could be larger-scale work, such as a fence panel needing replacing, for example. In this case, the customer would be provided with a date that the required work will be completed by and this should always be within a target of seven calendar days after the property is re-let.
If you want to get involved and help make a difference, we have a range of opportunities available. Visit longhurst-group.org.uk/me-and-my-home/get-involved to find out more.