How are housing associations responding to Tenant Satisfaction Measures?
It’s now three months since the introduction of new Tenant Satisfaction Measures (TSMs) across social housing. They cover five areas, including the state and safety of properties, and how landlords effectively handle complaints. Housing associations must report on TSMs to the regulator, using a mix of tenant satisfaction surveys and management information.
Initial indications suggest that TSMs are highlighting multiple areas for improvement. Satisfaction levels with some housing associations have halved since TSMs were introduced. However, they are also driving an increased focus and investment in customer service. For example, Gateshead Council is spending £168m on its housing service, partly focusing on areas highlighted by its TSM survey.
Achieving robust TSMs requires housing associations to provide quality service to all tenants through their channels of choice. At the same time, they need to work efficiently to maximise budgets. These five areas demonstrate where technology can assist:
1. Extend self-service
Online self-service empowers tenants, enabling them to easily carry out routine activities such as finding information, booking repairs, or paying rent. Not only is this more convenient for customers, but it also increases efficiency as it frees up agent time. As well as online self-service and apps, housing associations should also look at using chatbots to support tenants with out-of-hours queries.
2. Take an omnichannel approach
Housing associations should adopt an omnichannel contact centre platform as the foundation for their customer service operations. This allows tenants to interact through their channel of choice, whether via email, chat, phone, or social media. This delivers flexibility, and introducing digital channels reduces incoming queries through costly phone channels. Even telephone-based customer service can benefit from omnichannel technology. Using an intuitive IVR system housing associations can enhance call routing capabilities, ensuring calls are directed to the most appropriate agent. Furthermore, it can also identify and prioritise calls from vulnerable tenants making sure their needs are addressed promptly.
3. Embrace automation and AI
Contact centre automation is another area that benefits everyone. It makes life easier for tenants as they have access to self-serve options. Additionally, integrating the contact centre with back-office solutions such as CRM empowers agents with comprehensive customer histories. This means they can deliver faster, more empathetic service, without searching for information, further benefiting the customer. Streamlining operations and using AI also increases efficiency and helps uncover areas for future improvement, driving greater cost-effectiveness. Furthermore, interaction recording technology can automatically collect customer conversations to drive quality management, a crucial part of Tenant Satisfaction Measures.
4. Increase collaboration and support agents
As more routine enquiries are managed through self-service, agents can focus on more involved or complex interactions. Resolving these often requires agents to work with other parts of the organisation such as experts in other departments. Tools like Microsoft Teams enables this real-time collaboration, such as via chat. This means an agent can get the information needed to resolve a query from a colleague while the customer is still on the phone.
More widely, tools such as Teams, customer service knowledge bases and unified desktops empower agents and make them feel more in control. This means they can focus on empathising with tenants rather than searching for information or navigating multiple systems to find answers.
5. Listen to customers
Collecting, analysing, and acting on customer feedback is central to achieving TSMs. Housing associations should implement dedicated surveys and Voice of the Customer (VoC) programmes to understand their tenants better. Analysing customer service interactions across every channel adds another dimension to listening. Not only does it provide data for deeper customer insight but can also highlight commonly occurring tenant issues that need addressing or areas for additional agent training.
While it has only been three months, the introduction of TSMs is encouraging housing associations to redouble their focus on the customer. A well-orchestrated customer service strategy and documented processes are vital for improving Tenant Satisfaction Measures and meeting regulatory requirements. Find out more about the changing face of housing association customer service in our guide.