Number of complaints
Over the past year, we have continued to see a trend of fewer complaints. This year we received 816 complaints compared to 978 the year before – a reduction of 17%. Taking the past two years together, our complaint numbers have fallen by more than a third.
We know if you’ve had reason to complain about our services, this can be disappointing and frustrating. However, we do feel the reduction is a positive indicator that our services are becoming more reliable and consistent.
Length of time to respond
The length of time it takes for us to respond on average has increased over the course of this year. It was 18 days at the end of the first six months and 20 days at the end of December. At the end of March 2020, the average had increased to 28 working days. This was a result of some long-standing cases closing in this period. Our target is 20 working days.
In August 2019, we introduced a new 2-stage complaint process. We now have a stronger focus on personal communication with customers and an emphasis on completing a full investigation at the first stage. When we had some gaps in our resources over the winter months, we chose to make sure we maintained communication with customers, rather than rush to complete cases. Satisfaction figures tell us this was the right approach.
It is a priority for us going to make sure we resolve complaints within our published timescales, and we will publish our progress on this here.
Types of complaints and outcomes
Around 68% of complaints (558) relate to repairs. We carry out around 200,000 repairs each year. The number of repairs complaints is a small fraction of this, but they are important because they frustrate and inconvenience our customers. In most repairs complaints it is straightforward for us to see we got something wrong and to apologise for this.
The remaining proportion of complaints relate to tenancy services, rent and charges, estate services or problems with newbuild properties.
We made quite a few changes to our complaints service in the first half of the year. This is reflected in lower customer satisfaction. By October 2019, only 46% of customers were satisfied with how we handled their complaint.
We have improved our process, changed our approach to communication and introduced consistent quality monitoring.
The results between November and March are much better – on average the score is 69% satisfied. 71% of customers are satisfied they are kept informed.
The overall satisfaction figure across the whole year improved to 54%. We are in a good position to maintain higher scores throughout 2020/21.
How complaints have helped us change our services
Complaints help to tell us about the things we need to improve within our services.
This year we have introduced:
- Real-time text surveys for repairs – we’ll ask you if you are satisfied within around 90 minutes of your repair taking place and we respond quickly if you’re not. (Please note this service is suspended during coronavirus lockdown restrictions)
- Increased staff resources and training were provided to respond to service charge statement and budget enquiries
- Improved joint working across teams to create a framework for better management of complex and difficult cases
- A review of income cases to make sure we can anticipate customers at risk of arrears and provide the right support at the right time
- Completed preparation for a new system for case management, which will be introduced later in 2020