We have struggled with complaints handling performance over the past eighteen months. The impact of the post-lockdown period created a drag on our service, from which we have not recovered quickly enough. This has led to delays in complaint responses and lower levels of satisfaction. We want to make sure we have fewer complaints, we resolve complaints more quickly and we provide better outcomes for customers.
We have talked to customers about the service at our 'Customers Connect' conference in November 2021. We have reported our progress to Customer Voice and to our Homeowner Panel, as well as regularly reviewing the situation with our board.
Over the summer, we have worked on a recovery plan to improve our service:
- We've recruited more people into our complaints team
- We're investing in training and skills development
- We've created a successful First Response approach to resolve straightforward complaints quickly
- We've stopped using an 'informal' complaint process - everything you tell us is a complaint is managed as a complaint
- We've introduced new tools to improve information sharing with our contractors
- We have a new role monitoring the quality of the service
- We've improved website information and sign-posting
We're pleased to see the service getting better, but there is still much to do.
Response times have improved
- Average time to acknowledge 6.2 days in October (5-day target)
- Average days from acknowledgement to stage one response 11.3 days in October (10-day target)
- Average time to respond to stage two 26.4 days in October (20-day target)
Customer satisfaction is improving
- Customer satisfaction for October was 87.5%
- Since July, year-to-date satisfaction has recovered 7.5% to 45.5% against our target of 60%
- Average over past three months is 53.5% (60% target)
If you have a complaint and you are later invited to respond to a satisfaction survey, please do so if you can. We read every comment to understand what went well and what could be improved.
Reasons for complaints
We receive approximately 60 complaints per week across all services.
Repairs remains the most common reason for complaints. Figures from September 2022 show:
- 85% of complaints relate to repairs
- 5% of complaints about other services included a repair element
- 10% of complaints relate to other service areas such as anti-social behaviour, tenancy matters, customer services, local delivery, service charges and sheltered housing
Currently, we see complaints relating to windows and doors, an increase in concerns here is possibly due to energy efficiency. We see complaints relating to issues with showers and water pressure. The general condition of components if frequently raised, with customers asking us about replacement e.g. Kitchens and bathrooms. Missed appointments and poor communication are problems customers tell us about.
Our decision to extend our successful in-house contractor to cover 11,000 homes in London is central to our commitment to improve our repairs service. Our Property Maintenance London team took over this service on 3 October 2022. We are confident this will lead to a better service for our customers.
Housing Ombudsman Scheme
We are a member of the Housing Ombudsman Scheme. Our customers can contact the Housing Ombudsman Service for guidance and help in raising a complaint at any point. We want to make sure we resolve any problems for you ourselves, but independent advice is available if you need it.