24 Jun 2021

Supporting residents to live well requires delivering a quality customer experience

From our first homes in Hackney, Metropolitan Thames Valley (MTVH) has been driven by the same vision – to give people a home and the chance to live well. From our leading shared ownership brand SO Resi, to our bespoke keyworker accommodation and our affordable social rent homes, we provide safe and secure homes to diverse communities across London, the South East and the Midlands.

Housing is the heart of what we do at MTVH, but we aspire to do so much more. Founded more than 50 years ago to provide safe and affordable homes for the Windrush generation, we are a social purpose organisation and want to work with communities to make places better and improve outcomes for our residents. We know that delivering a quality customer service is intrinsic to our ambition of serving people better every day.

At MTVH, living well means more than access to an affordable, safe, and secure home. It means improving people’s health and wellbeing, supporting more people to gain skills and secure employment opportunities, and playing an active role in tackling structural inequalities. I am proud to say that when it’s needed, MTVH make the case for change. Across issues as diverse as domestic abuse, migrant rights and social security, we aim to help meet the challenges faced by our communities.

Fundamentally however, supporting residents to live well requires delivering a quality customer experience, in ways that work for residents and customers, and as we look towards the future, this is what we are focusing on. By 2026, we aim to have provided a quality customer experience – getting things right first time, raising overall satisfaction levels above 80% , and working with residents, stakeholders and colleagues to design and deliver the services and support that matter most.

To achieve this ambition, it is vital that we have a clear understanding as to what we, and our residents, consider good customer service to be. That’s why resident voice is at the heart of our approach. Through a new resident governance structure, we are working directly with residents to improve their experience of engaging with us and make sure their voices are prominent in everything we do. This has already seen us incorporate a greater focus on trust and communication in our delivery of core services such as repairs, customer contact and moving into new homes.

Since the pandemic began in March 2020, the needs of our residents have changed and many of the communities we serve have been disproportionately affected by its social and economic fallout. Listening has been key as our teams have adapted to effectively and compassionately deliver the customer experience our residents have needed during this time; providing targeted support and referrals through our dedicated Coronavirus Support Hub and responding to an increased need for support with anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse and food poverty.

Two and a half years on from the merger of Metropolitan and Thames Valley, we are delivering real value for our customers and residents and we pleased with the progress we have made. By the end of 2020-21 overall customer satisfaction rates reached 75%, a significant improvement from the previous year. However, like many other housing associations, we recognise we’ve got some way to go.

In April 2021, we launched our five-year strategy ‘Serving People Better Every Day'.  It’s the plan for how we will continue to improve the customer experience, invest more in people’s homes, and support people to live well. Embedding quality customer service into everything we do at MTVH is at the heart of our plans for the future. We aim to give residents greater assurance and confidence in our services charges; work with them to improve our digital services; and offer greater certainty on their rights and responsibilities, implementing the requirements of the Social Housing White Paper.

Ultimately, delivering quality customer service is the foundation for building and maintaining trust with our residents. Alongside providing safe and secure social homes, it provides the platform we need to tackle social disadvantage and empower communities. At MTVH, we are committed to helping people live well and openly recognise the areas where we can, and should, strive to do better.  As we look towards the future, we are committed to driving forward a transparent and co-produced approach to improving customer experience – one that will enable us to serve people better every day.

Written by Althea Efunshile

Althea Efunshile is chair of Metropolitan Thames Valley