Changing social housing for tomorrow: A human-centered focus on customer needs

Change, never mind transformation, is a big ask for social housing leaders at the moment.

The post-COVID, cost of living and reputation risks means that there is little time left for the aspirational well-managed programme of improvements and investments that were promoted in your corporate plan for 2019. Any change is now need-based and subject to resistance from fraught stakeholders.

There’s plenty of well-intentioned advice about, and not just from suppliers and consultants. The Regulator for Social Housing has mandated improvements in consumer standards including tenant satisfaction measures.

And if you can remember 2022, the National Housing Federation (NHF) and the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) commissioned the Better Social Housing Review. The report found that while most housing association homes are of high quality, some fall short of expectations, and there are issues of racial discrimination affecting tenants’ experience when they raise issues with repairs and maintenance.

Forecasting the Customer of the Future in Social Housing

In this recent report, by Dr Simon Williams (CMRS, FCIH) MD of Service Insights which engaged 35 experts from sectors including social housing policy organisations, global technology companies, senior leaders, and front-line staff and was supported by six housing associations: Abri, Joseph Rowntree, Together, Leeds Federated, Trent and Dove and BPHA.

This  Delphi research project was to explore what the customer of the future in social housing may look like in the next 3 to 5 years, and how social housing providers may need to evolve in order to meet their customers’ future needs. Here is a summary of the findings.

The report highlighted several significant implications for the social housing sector.

      1. Diversity – The customer base is becoming increasingly diverse, encompassing vulnerable individuals as well as those who traditionally had a choice of tenure.

      1. Service Quality – Customers now have higher expectations for service quality and are more willing to challenge standards if they are not met.

      1. Streamlined services– Customers expect social housing providers to use technology to streamline services and improve their living conditions.

    So do we need to start thinking about these customers of the future alongside plans to implement and adopt the recommendations of current proposals?

    It’s Good to Talk

    In this dynamic environment, social housing providers need to remain agile and responsive. At Golden Marzipan, you can trust us to advise and support, not sell, tell, and leave. We believe we have the expertise to support innovation, data analytics and customer engagement because we understand the sector’s challenges and also, critically, most of the innovative technological solutions.

    If you would like some reflection time and ideas on how to get back to a positive and realistic change plan for the next two years, here’s what we can offer:

        1. Strategic planning and alignment – does your corporate and financial plan need a reset in light of changing customer needs and expectations?

        1. Resource allocation and investment – the findings of all of these important reports highlight the need for investment in technology, staff training, and infrastructure to meet the increasing demands of customers.

        1. Risk management and resilience – you’ve identified and are dealing with several risks beyond your tolerance levels. But what about the upstream risks of not responding to the customer demand for change?

        1. Data-driven – repeatedly we are being told that the sector does not have the data skills and capabilities for setting achievable targets, monitoring progress regularly, and taking corrective action when needed.

        1. Achievable and realistic steps –  very few transformation programmes have realised their objectives and benefits. And now is not the time to start another disruptive drive. So what are the projects and initiatives that will maintain momentum until you are ready for the big push!

      By understanding and addressing these implications, boards and executives of social housing providers can position their organisations for success in the future, delivering exceptional services and homes that meet the needs of the ever-evolving customer base.

      The Customer of the Future and Golden Marzipan

      Our commitment to supporting social housing providers includes:

          • Continuously refining our services and solutions to address emerging trends and challenges in the sector.

          • Staying up to date with the latest technologies, best practices, and sector insights to ensure our clients remain at the forefront of innovation.

          • Providing ongoing support and guidance to help organisations navigate change, manage risks, and capitalise on opportunities.

          • Collaborating with stakeholders across the sector, including technology providers, policymakers, and community organisations, to foster a more inclusive and sustainable social housing environment.

          • Investing in our team’s professional development to ensure we continue delivering the highest level of expertise and service to our clients.

        As we move forward into the future of social housing, Golden Marzipan remains committed to helping providers overcome challenges and seize opportunities, ensuring they can consistently deliver exceptional services and homes to meet the evolving needs of their customers.

        Are you interested in hearing more?

        We invite you to contact us to learn more about how Golden Marzipan can help your organisation adapt and succeed in the future of social housing. Our team of experts is eager to share their knowledge and collaborate with you to create meaningful, lasting change for the benefit of your residents and communities – human-centred change!

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