Driving service excellence through customer involvement
ForViva’s Customer Congress is putting customers at the heart of shaping how a huge number of services are delivered in communities across the North West.
The formation of the ForViva group in 2015, combined with changes in how housing associations are funded, formed the perfect opportunity for a fresh approach to engaging with customers.
Following a review of the current approach to customer engagement, the Customer Congress was set up in September 2016 to monitor and challenge the performance of services.
The Congress currently has 18 members with a wide range of ages and background.
There are 275 customers who are actively involved in a variety of different groups that shape how group members, City West and Villages Housing Association, operate, with each of these groups now reporting directly to the Congress.
The new group meets every six weeks, and its tasks include:
- Debating best practice to delivering services
- Monitoring an action plan to make sure services are delivered to an excellent standard
- Reviewing service standards every two years
- Helping improve customer facing services such as call handling
The Congress is responsible for the final sign-off of key customer facing policies and ensuring appropriate customer consultation has taken place.
One of the key achievements the new Customer Congress has been streamlining service standards, which explain the level of service that customers can expect. In consultation with customers in 2016 ForViva reduced the number from over 197 separate standards to just seven, ensuring focus on areas that customers have told us are key priorities to ensure a positive experience.
Customer inspections and satisfaction surveys will give valuable feedback on whether ForViva group members are meeting these service commitments, and the Customer Congress reviews findings from these at every meeting, bringing them all together in its annual report to the Board.
Across the group, staff delivered 99.2% of service standards in 2016/17 and are aiming to achieve even higher success rates in future.
Customer Congress Chair Stephanie Tomlinson explains how the new system is helping drive service excellence across the group: “I feel that myself and customers make a difference within our communities and help make changes that benefit local residents. We challenge staff on areas that we feel need to be improved and provide recommendations on different projects.
She added: “For example, we recently visited a newly refurbished office as part of a disability forum and made some recommendations about the desk sizes and wall phone, that needed to be made lower and accessible for a wheelchair user. This was taken on board by staff and the adaptations were made.”