Ahead of Future of Housing 2020, we caught up with Yvonne Castle, CEO of JJ Housing to talk about what the housing industry can do to better engage tenants and improve satisfaction rates.
What is your predominant method of getting in touch with your tenants? Do you use any technology?
We use a variety of methods but tend to favour face to face communication if possible - we are predominantly an independent living facility for older people, and the majority of our residents prefer to speak to someone in person. We involve our residents in so many conversations via regional forums, working groups, drop-in centres and an annual conference.
When it comes to tech, we use surveys, automated calls & are currently creating a virtual platform for our residents to get in touch with us online.
Which method do you think is the most effective? Does this change for different residents?
We are working to understand the proportions of those who engage with us at different ages – our residents start at around 50 but go up to 100+ and really vary in terms of their technology use, not always how you would assume!
How do you assess your tenant satisfaction?
3 years ago, we asked our tenants how they would define ‘outstanding’, and we now base our satisfaction around 5 key areas:
- Feeling safe & secure
- Feeling engaged
- Value for money
- Excellent services
- Getting it right the first time
We do a phone survey every month with 200 residents and generally achieve a 40% response rate, rating us as outstanding or not – we do follow up calls if they say no just to check what more we can do!
What do you think you are doing really well when it comes to your tenants?
I feel our level of face to face engagement gives us a real personal touch and the edge on some of our competitors. It’s our 50th anniversary this year and I have taken the time to go to every single one of our living schemes and sit down with them all, even if just to have a coffee. We really take engagement seriously because of the age of our tenants, and I think that is shown in their satisfaction!
If money was no object, what would you implement in your association in order to improve communication with residents?
I would hire more staff! I would hire people to go out to all of our residents and complete qualitative face to face interviews. We are investing in our technology & infrastructure but you really cannot put a price on face to face support.
What should the entire sector be focusing on in order to keep tenants happy?
I think we should say ‘yes’ to our residents more! Why do we make things difficult for people? If they are asking for something small, why can’t we just say yes? It makes such a difference to them!
JJ Housing predominantly provide housing for seniors and so have adapted their engagement style accordingly with a real focus on face to face communication. Yvonne will be speaking in the ‘tenants’ conference stream regarding independent living and how to improve your offering for older residents.
Join us on 26th April at our Future of Housing Conference at etc. venues St Paul's in London. Future of Housing unites leadership teams, policymakers and influential figures from across UK housing to define strategy and take action on delivering the ‘levelling up’ agenda.
Jessica Kimbell, GovNet