This is the fifth Thrive Customer Experience Panel (CEP) blog, and we are still building our audience. Some bloggers are happy to waffle on until they hit their word count, we think that’s pointless.
These blogs are for you, Thrive customers, so we welcome your questions and feedback on topics that interest you and how you want the blogs to look and sound.
Previous blogs have focussed on a single topic. This time we thought we’d provide a bit of variety and signpost to several ‘newsy’ (but important) items you should know about.
We plan to cover them in more detail in future blogs and we’d love to know what works for you and the areas you’d like more detail. That way, you will help us get the content right, so you get the most out of our updates and provide us with valuable feedback. Well, that’s the hope anyway!
News item 1: Our achievements in the spotlight
We thought it would be good to use each blog to report how customer engagement has made a difference and will, in time, improve your customer experience. This time, the focus is on the Question Time event we ran on the Grounds Maintenance and Cleaning Services, on 14th October 2020.
This Question Time event provided an open platform for customers to raise questions and get straight answers about Thrive’s estate services. It provided valuable feedback and has helped Thrive Homes to re-focus on what is important to customers.
Customer feedback mechanisms and a newly introduced review of complaints initially flagged concerns about the Grounds Maintenance Contractor's performance. The service was put under the spotlight of customer scrutiny through the Question Time event and ultimately led to an agreement that will involve customers in the procurement of a new contractor.
It is crucial that Thrive appoint the best contractor and ensures customers are engaged in monitoring the contractor’s performance from day one. We will report back on how things have turned out, and remember you always have an opportunity to give feedback by clicking here.
News item 2: The Charter for social housing residents: Social Housing White Paper
It sets out the Government's proposals to ensure that residents in social housing are safe, are listened to, live in good quality homes, and have access to redress when things go wrong.
The foreword by Boris Johnson, Prime Minister, states:
“The proposals in this White Paper will make clear the standards that every social tenant in England is entitled to expect from their landlords.
They will ensure that people feel safe and secure in their homes, can get problems fixed before they spiral out of control, and see exactly how good their landlord is at dealing with complaints. Above all, it will give social housing tenants a voice, and ensure that it is listened to.
We’re levelling up this country, making it fairer for everyone – and that includes making sure social housing tenants are treated with the respect they deserve, so that nobody should ever again feel as hopeless as the man I met all those years ago.”
The next two years will be crucial to determine if The White Paper achieves its vision. Some things are likely to happen quite quickly, whilst others take much longer.
Thrive Homes is already making progress towards several changes – for example, they are currently looking at a range of options for filling the new Responsible Person role which oversees Consumer Regulation whilst they wait for details on new performance metrics, consumer standards and the Inspection Regime.
Watch this space for opportunities to have your say about how Thrive Homes responds to a more proactive Regulatory Regime as part of their fair deal for customers.
News item 3: Housing Ombudsman’s Complaints Code
Some of you may have unfortunately had cause to complain to Thrive Homes in the past. We want to know - how was your experience? Did you feel your complaint was listened to and resolved?
The CEP and the Service Shapers Group have been working closely with Thrive colleagues over the past few years to improve the way complaints are handled and ensure learning helps drive improved services and the customer experience.
On 7th July 2020, the Housing Ombudsman Service published a new Complaints Code designed to provide a framework for quality complaints handling and more consistency between landlords. The Code has been welcomed by the social housing sector, including the umbrella bodies representing tenants.
“Tpas welcomes the publication of the new Complaint Handling Code from the Housing Ombudsman as another step forward in ensuring tenants know what they can rightly expect when they have a complaint with their landlord.” Jenny Osbourne, Chief Executive, Tpas
A copy of the Code can be found by clicking here and, if you are more visual like me, you can watch a recording of an online session presented by the Housing Ombudsman Service covering the key aspects and setting out the work to be done by landlords. A copy of the recording can be found by clicking here.
Thrive and The Code
As a direct result of the work done recently to improve complaints handling, Thrive Homes is in a strong position to meet the Code's requirements.
All social landlords had to complete a self-assessment against the Code and publish an action plan to show what they need to do to make sure they comply with the Code. The CEP was heavily involved in reviewing the self-assessment and helped create the action plan for Thrive Homes, access a copy by clicking here.
The next big deadline is to publish a new Complaints Policy by 31st March 2021.
Perhaps you think we have missed something or there is a better way of doing things? We’d love to hear from you if you have an idea!
The CEP’s Complaints Champions are Geoff Fellows and Alison Watt. They will be meeting with Victoria Bolton, Customer Experience Lead at Thrive to check progress against the action plan in the next few weeks.
[button – Click here to get in touch]
Thrive Homes will be running an ‘Understanding service charges’ online event in the coming months. We’ll be in touch with details of the event nearer to the time and you can let us know if you’d be interested in attending by clicking below.