Thrive is committed to involving customers in a meaningful way at the earliest possible stage and throughout initiatives that impact on customers. This will help to maximise the influence of customers and prevent customers thinking involvement is simply being done as a tick box exercise.
We have recently adopted the Tpas Engagement Standards as a framework to link customer involvement to our business objectives and help to achieve the best possible return on our investment.
Customer involvement is critical to Thrive as it helps make us a better housing provider.
We are committed to:
- Supporting customers to challenge and hold Thrive to account through combining the experiences, views and judgement of involved customers with wider Customer Insight to enable the customer perspective to shine a light on potential ‘blind spots’ and concerns that could impact badly on customers
- Improving Thrive’s understanding of what is important to customers through developing complaints and other ‘early warning’ systems, real-time customer feedback mechanisms and performance metrics that accurately capture the reality of the customer experience, aiding the co-design of services and resolution of service failures
- Informing and engaging Thrive’s customers in a meaningful and timely way through early and ongoing customer consultation over issues that impact on their home, tenancy and immediate neighbourhood, from concept to something happening.
How do we do it?
Thrive’s current approach to involvement relies heavily on the Customer Experience Panel (CEP).
CEP’s role is to:
- Act as a ‘critical friend’ and the bridge between customers and the Board. CEP has an annual workplan (add link) and reports directly to the Board at least twice a year and is a strong voice for customers
- Provide assurance to the Board by checking Thrive’s compliance with the Social Housing Regulator’s Consumer Standards, including reviewing and challenging the evidence provided by staff
- Input the customer perspective into strategic plans, policy reviews and regularly review Thrive’s performance through a dashboard of customer centric measures. Increasingly over time CEP will combine the experiences and views of members with Customer Insight data gathered through the recently revamped surveys and other customer feedback mechanisms
- Participate in quality assurance reviews including suggesting services that need to be reviewed, helping to decide what to include in the review, providing ‘critical friend’ challenge throughout the project and shaping the recommendations.
The CEP has helped to identify essential additional opportunities that will allow customers to make a difference to more of the things that matter them and help Thrive to comply fully with the Tpas Engagement Standards.
Thrive has deliberately moved away from formal involvement methods that require considerable time commitment in favour of more flexible approaches, designed for and by customers that also represent real value for money (VfM).
Is it properly resourced?
Currently resources support CEP to get established in Thrive. CEP members are paid a small allowance and expenses to recognise the level of commitment required.
Thrive will increase the resources to support wider involvement provided it makes us a better housing provider and helps to achieve value for money.
Additional resources will be made available as necessary based on specific requirements of an identified need.
What has been achieved so far?
Involvement at Thrive is still very much a work in progress but significant gains have been made.
- CEP led on a project to totally overhaul customer surveys and the way we measure the reality of the customer experience. Customers now have the chance to give and receive feedback in real-time. This information is used to address service failings and drive service improvements that create a better customer experience.
- Complaints action plan to address identified service failings and target the capture of low level customer dissatisfaction and niggles.
- CEP is to have a bigger input in the production of the Annual Report to Tenants. Additionally, impact measures will be factored into projects by setting targets that form an integral part of everyday work at Thrive.
- Targeting community grants to achieve better value for money by simplifying the process and only supporting selected partners and offering one-off payments up to £500 for projects, activities or events that directly benefit our customers.
There will be increased opportunities for customers to have a say by:
- Growing the pool of customer volunteers and engaging them in workshops, task and finish groups and /or telephone surveys, based on their interests, expertise and availability.
- Developing a digital offer using social media and technologies supporting engagement, particularly for working customers and young people.
- Introducing Customer Question Time Events to enable customers to get straight answers to straight questions by submitting questions and / or attending events with panels of experts and hosted by CEP.
This will open involvement to a wider audience and increase the representativeness and diversity of involved customers.
- Recruit new CEP members and develop team roles for all members.
- Launch CEP Chair’s blog and ‘you said we did’ reporting to promote the benefits of involvement.
- Wider volunteer recruitment as part of the roll out the new involvement methods to increase representativeness and diversity of involved customers.
- Develop a joint training programme to increase organisational capacity around collaborating with customers.
- Measure the impact of involvement to demonstrate how it adds value and helps to achieve value for money.