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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

New research to reveal untapped potential of customer insight

31/03/2010


New research aims to uncover how much - or how little – social landlords in England really know about their tenants and what potential benefits they could tap into by tailoring services more closely to meet customers’ needs.

The new research from the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) and Housemark in partnership with the Tenant Services Authority (TSA) will question over 1,000 housing leaders on the level of data they hold on their customers, how they use it to build up a clear picture of their tenants and how this customer insight is used to shape and develop services.

Understanding their tenants better not only ensures that housing providers deliver appropriate services, but that they also make support available in the right place, at the right time and in a way that is readily accessible. It is also fundamental to housing providers delivering the new TSA regulatory framework.

Steve Partridge, Director of Financial Policy at CIH said: "Very little is known about the potential benefits of using customer insight to shape housing services, but it makes absolute sense that the more you know about your tenants, their needs and their aspirations, the better you can tailor your resources. This new research should give us the first hard evidence of investment and return on investment in this area for housing providers and the tangible benefits for their tenants."

Peter Marsh, TSA Chief Executive, said: "I firmly believe that a ‘local’ or ‘tailored’ offer for different groups of tenants should be very much on our agendas. We want landlords to work with their customers to best decide how services are tailored to meet needs – based on geography, age or other grouping.  This is where the future of meeting the needs of diverse tenants lies."

Adrian Eggington, Director of Neighbourhoods at South Staffordshire Housing Association, said: "Tenant insight is a vital tool in the delivery of our neighbourhood services, it helps us to better understand the communities we serve; their needs and behaviours. This in turn informs us how we deliver existing services and evaluate demand for new services. By understanding our customers' key drivers, we are able to provide services that positively impact on overall customer satisfaction."

*ENDS*

News release issued on behalf of the CIH by Jill Dwyer, CIH Press Office, Octavia House, Westwood Way, Coventry CV4 8JP. Telephone: 02476 851780 or 07786 716961. Email:

press@cih.org .

Notes to Editors:

1. Examples of benefits of customer profiling and customer insight in the housing sector:

Housemark, which offers performance improvement services for the social housing sector, has helped housing organisations translate data on tenants into useful management information that can help them design services and deliver them in an appropriate way. For example, Bromsgrove District Housing Trust (BDHT) used customer insight to offer targeted help to tenants who were most at risk of falling behind with their rent payments in order to prevent them falling into arrears or even being evicted. Helena Homes used insight into their customers and residents in the local community with a similar profile to help target resources where they were needed most to develop services to tackle debt and worklessness.

Pathmeads Housing Association has collated comprehensive customer profile information including disability and language needs for 100 per cent of its tenants, and uses the information to tailor services according to customer needs, for example by having rent letters and statements translated into the appropriate language needed.

Stevenage Homes has profile information that has indicated that a relatively high proportion of customers have some difficulty reading. It has developed a DVD version of the tenant handbook which conveys key messages about tenancy matters in a professional way.

2. Housing organisations interested in getting involved in the research should email customerinsight@cih.org

3. The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) is the professional body for people involved in housing and communities. We are a registered charity and not-for-profit organisation. We have a diverse and growing membership of over 22,000 – both in the public and private sectors – living and working in over 20 countries on five continents across the world. Our members work for local authorities, housing associations, Arms Length Management Organisations, Government bodies, educational establishments and the private sector. Many tenants and residents are also members. We exist to maximise the contribution that housing professionals make to the wellbeing of communities. Further information is available at: www.cih.org

4. The TSA is the independent regulator for social housing in England. It was set up on 1 December 2008 and currently regulates housing associations. When the TSA switches on its new powers on 1 April, it will also start regulating local authority landlords and other providers of social housing.

5. The Chartered Institute of Housing and Inside Housing magazine’s House Proud campaign is making the case for housing. More details are at www.insidehousing.co.uk/houseproud


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