In 2021 the way that customers provide feedback about their experiences with a product or service has changed significantly from 10 years ago. Whereas phone, email or a physical letter were once the core ways for housing associations and landlords to collect feedback about the service being provided, the response rates were always low, and mostly only collected negative feedback.
To then take action from this feedback was also both cumbersome and unscalable, with feedback generally being used to inform longer-term changes to the way services are provided. Across repairs and maintenance, general upkeep of the building and surrounding lands, crime and noise pollution, or the abundance of things that can break at any moment, there is an awful lot of upkeep for housing associations and landlords. Therefore, gathering feedback on how you’re performing is vital for providing a great place to live and mitigating issues early on.
Automated, real-time feedback through modern channels like a mobile app or two-way SMS are now table stakes for housing associations and landlords looking to get in-the-moment feedback. With these channels in place it is possible to act upon feedback quickly and resolve potentially compounding issues with tenants, and provide a more consistent service.
Real-time tenant feedback
If a tenant is dissatisfied with the repairs being made to their dwelling, then the ability to provide that feedback as the work is being completed or while the repairs team are on site will help to negotiate changes and rectify the issues quicker than by receiving a letter 2 weeks after the event. Repairs are responsible for nearly a third of all housing complaints and therefore get major focus.
Rather than wait, landlords and housing associations can be more proactive to collect feedback in the moment through a two-way, automated text message, but also then use email, phone or other methods as part of an integrated approach. Doubling down on a variety of real-time channels helps to elicit the highest percentage of feedback by making communication channels available at every customer touchpoint, and when unified into a VoC software, means that it can be analyzed and reported on easily.
Proactive feedback programs for Housing Associations
Equally as important is that proactive feedback programs dramatically increase customer trust and shows a level of compassion that is not often associated with the industry. Reports of landlords and housing management companies going missing at vital moments are easy to find with a quick google search. Often this is not through any fault of the organization apart from a lack of resource to deal with issues quickly, and a lack of structure to be able to collect, store and interpret that feedback effectively. By getting in front of issues with VOC software for proactive feedback collection shows that the organization cares, but also ensures that resource isn’t an issue because feedback is collected, stored, interpreted and made actionable without much human intervention at all.
Rant & Rave is a specialist VoC and customer feedback software for UK housing associations. With 16 housing association customers, like Stonewater, actively using the technology to proactively manage, measure and improve customer satisfaction, we have a templated approach that our customers can rely on to get new customer feedback loops up and running quickly.
For housing associations and landlords looking to improve customer satisfaction, request a Rant & Rave product demo, but for now, here are some top tips for how to collect useful customer feedback today:
1. Keep it simple
A great example of collecting satisfaction ratings can now be seen in every major airport around the world when getting your bags checked at the security barrier. You’ll often see a device with 3 buttons (Green, Amber, Red) showing smiley, neutral and unhappy faces. To give a rating about your experience you simply hit the button that relates to how you feel. Although this doesn’t help you understand why a person feels the way they do about the standard of service, this style of feedback highlights the importance of making the process simple, obvious and convenient. If you overcomplicate your survey, you’ll get fewer responses. An email asking for a one-click satisfaction rating could work well, however, emails have low open rates and you may only get a small proportion of feedback. SMS, mobile push or app notifications have much higher open rates and allow for simple messaging too. The great thing about SMS is that you can then automate follow-ups. If they provide a negative answer, then it can prompt further discussion: “Would you like to tell us why you’re unhappy? Y/N”, or a positive answer might be a good time to find out what specifically made them happy. Because SMS is real-time, it enables you to catch the person in the moment and start a two-way dialogue, meaning they feel heard, and ultimately make it possible for you to close the loop efficiently.
2. Get the timing right
Another core benefit of SMS is timing. SMS delivery is fast, and text messages are read quickly too. Whatever channels you use to collect feedback, it’s important to collect it during the stage that the customer is most emotionally invested. If you’ve fixed their problem quickly and satisfactorily, they’ll be keen to let you know quickly. However, tomorrow they may be onto the next life problem, and you’ll not get the feedback. Similarly, if they’re unhappy it provides you with the chance to redirect their complaint to a call centre agent. You might not be able to fix their issue there and then but you’re listening and that’s all that customers want to begin with.
3. Be specific and make answers actionable
Focus on what is important to your customers by letting them tell you how they feel. Don’t solely use long winded surveys to gauge satisfaction when all you really need to know is; was the customer happy? If not, why not? And if they were, what did you do so you can keep doing it!
Structured surveys have a place in the Housing industry; however, they need to be specific, targeted and used to supplement a strong transactional feedback programme that allows you to keep your finger on the pulse.
Rant & Rave’s customer engagement software allows customers to tell you ‘why’ they feel a certain way. Allowing you to unpack a free format comment and present it back to your organization as structured answers in the form of categorized insight.
4. Be inclusive
Don’t just select random samples of customers to gather feedback from. Make sure everyone is included to get maximum results. Whether a new tenant or your longest serving resident, knowing how they feel about your organisation is important to know so that you can understand trends in satisfaction levels with you. Perhaps new tenants struggle in the first 3 months but become very happy in 6 months, or perhaps they start happy and decline over time. Whatever the outcomes it can be useful to understand what impacts satisfaction and therefore spur you to take action.
Finally, make it scalable by investing in a multi-channel VoC software like Rant & Rave, with vast experience in the housing industry. For a deeper dive into how Housing Associates can turn customer feedback into action, register for our upcoming webinar with Stonewater where they’ll be sharing the benefits of delivering a seamless end-to-end customer experience.