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Customer experience – our year in numbers

Abbey Lodge warm hub

It’s the time of year when everyone in housing takes stock of what we’ve achieved over the last 12 months. 

The end of the financial year (March), is a time when we post all of our figures and statistics for the projects we’ve been running, giving us a good chance to look at our performance, finances, and more. 

The last year has been a challenging in lots of ways, which I’m sure you’ve felt in your own lives. Naturally, over the year we haven’t got everything right and I know there’s always more for us to do to make things better. But, through focusing on the things we know matter to you, our teams have achieved a lot during 2023-4 and I wanted to take a minute to share some of these highlights: 

Customer services 

387,000 queries! That’s how many our customer services team handled during 2023-24.  

It’s the most we’ve ever dealt with, and we’ve listened to what you’ve told us about how frustrating it can be to wait on-hold for long periods of time and taken steps to improve this area. 

Working with this feedback, and our excellent Scrutiny Panel, we’ve been working hard to find new people to join our team and cut down on waiting times, and we’re delighted with the results.  

Our call waiting times have regularly been as low as just 6-7 minutes on average in the last few months, even at peak times. Not bad considering the waits were around 20 minutes on average and the number of queries the team have dealt with. 

It’s also great to see satisfaction with our Customer Service Centre hit 86% and continue to climb. We’re really pleased that so many of our customers are happy with the services that we provide, and we’ll keep working to improve our services based on your feedback.   

Wellbeing 

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Our wellbeing projects can be a bit harder to measure, but for each person we work with, we know that we’re helping them to make a positive change in their life. Just look at these numbers! 

  • 396 customers attending our Warm Welcome Wednesday sessions, where communal spaces were opened up to help people save on their heating bills while also learning more about the additional support that’s available to them. Customers had visitors from Age Concern, Citizen’s Advice and were treated to a range of other activities to help them connect with their neighbours, stay active and have fun. 
  • 400+ young people and people with mental health needs accessing our Supported Living services 
  • More than 3000 customers supported by our Retirement Living services  
  • 348 people supported via our specialist partner agencies who support marginalised people in the community 
  • 107 adults and 184 children supported through or specialist Domestic Abuse services, including 6,500 instances of support. 

We’ve also had lots of people attend cycling groups and fundraising events, which has been amazing to see.  

That’s more than 4,400 people that have engaged in our wellbeing projects 

Lettings 

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Our team let 1,600 homes in 2023-24, that’s a huge number of people that we’ve helped make a fresh start in a new home.  

What I love about the work of our lettings team is that it’s not just about handing over the keys, it’s about welcoming customers into their new community, making sure they have all the information they need, and doing everything we can to get their Stonewater journey off to a great start. 

Our average turnaround time for our homes also fell again, meaning that on average it takes less than 20 days from when we receive the keys back to one of our homes to it being ready for the next customer – time is crucial, knowing how many people are in desperate housing need on local authority waiting lists. 

I’m so pleased new customers have found this service so good with a satisfaction score of over 90%! 

Overcrowding  

While Stonewater built over 1000 new homes during the year, social housing remains in very short supply across the country. After we move into a home, our circumstances can often change, and we understand that this means that our customers can find that they become overcrowded. Overcrowding can be so difficult as everyone needs their space, and it can also make it more likely to experience issues like damp, mould and condensation. Over the year we’re really pleased that we’ve been able to: 

  • Support 83 overcrowded households into larger homes   
  • Support a further 14 customers with moves or extensions to their home 
  • Supported 17 new customers into new homes which addressed overcrowding   
  • Provided storage solutions to 20 customers 

In the community

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Our teams across areas such as Neighbourhoods, Tenancy and Resolution completed an astonishing 8,445 cases in 2023-24 – helping when you’re having issues where you live. 

Our customer satisfaction scores for anti-social behaviour, neighbourhoods, mutual exchanges and tenancies were all above target, and we’re continuing to build on this. 

We know that it’s important to you that you see us out and about on our schemes, which is why it’s brilliant that our Mobile Associates have completed more than 3,500 scheme inspections and more than 3,600 visits to our communities during the year. 

We also supported nearly 500 cases, where customers have needed somewhere temporary to stay often urgently while we work on their homes. This has included supporting 16 people affected by a fire in Wiltshire, and 24 people who had to be moved while we addressed some safety issues in Warwickshire. 

To help customers through this stressful time, our team work really hard to find somewhere in the local area as quickly as we can.  

Complaints 

Like all housing and customer service providers, we’re dealing with a lot more complaints than ever before. 

In the last financial year our team handled more than 4,000 stage one complaints and a further 1,000 stage twos. While the number is in keeping with other organisations like us, it’s still far more than anyone would like to see. What’s important though is that we resolve issues for our customers effectively and learn from them to try and prevent them happening again. That’s what our team has been focussed on and you can find out more about this here. 

We’ve also responded to 40 Housing Ombudsman investigations and handled more than 500 stakeholder enquiries. 

Engagement 

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As well as our wellbeing projects, we actively seek your feedback, thoughts and insight across a wide range of areas, and our Customer Communications and Engagement team have been busy making sure your voices are heard. 

 Here’s what they’ve done in 2023-24 

  • Directly engaged with over 1500 customers, working with them to shape our services and gain a greater understanding of their needs.  
  • Supporting our Scrutiny Panel to review our approach to managing Anti-Social Behaviour and to improve our communication around rents and service charges, making 24 recommendations.  
  • Running our Customer Hubb (Help Us Be Better) community of 1,117 customers – a place where our customers can come together to ask questions, feedback on our services, swap advice and more 
  • Hosting Facebook Live events which were viewed 2468 times.  
  • Producing our online quarterly newsletter, Here to Help, which has been read over 7,000 times, and our Customer Annual Review for 2022/23 which has been viewed more than 3,000 times.

Behind the scenes 

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Of course, none of this would be possible without the people doing the vital work that keeps all of the above ticking over. 

Our admin team handled more than 163,000 items of work, and our income team have helped us to collect your rent, ensuring we offer a supportive hand to those that are struggling – work that supports literally everything we do. 

At the end of yet another busy year, it’s important to recognise what’s gone well and thank everyone for all their work and efforts, what’s amazing, is that this isn’t even everything we do. 

That said, we’re not content to rest on our laurels. Next year is all about pushing further, reaching more people and improving services. I have no doubts that our team have got this. 

Finally, thank you to all of our customers who have listened, engaged and told us how we can keep improving what we do and remember, if it matters to you, it matters to us. 

Warmest wishes, 

Dave Lockerman, Director of Housing Operations