Aiming for excellent tenant satisfaction? Then great communications is non-negotiable

Do you work in a housing association or council? How often do you put yourself in a tenant’s shoes? Not just when it comes to your specific service or business area. But thinking about every interaction they might have with your organisation?

For a moment, consider just how many touch points someone living in one of your homes might have with the organisation in any given month. Everything from signage and posters in their building to everyday conversations with housing officers or repairs teams. They might receive printed letters and documents. Perhaps they also follow the organisation on Facebook or are in a community group.

When we zoom out and consider tenant experience like this, often it exposes our blind spots.

How confident are we that everyone who comes into contact with our organisation gets a consistent experience which aligns with the values and principles we’ve spent a great deal of time honing at Board and Executive level?

Do they experience a similar tone of voice? Are they being asked the same questions several times from different departments? Do they feel listened to or are they completely out of the loop?

It’s a lot to consider and when I’ve raised this in the past with landlords the questions and potential next steps can feel unwieldy and overwhelming.

We’re at a point where the whole housing sector has been held accountable for failings in communications with tenants.

It has never been more important to offer a seamless service to tenants, operating as one joined-up organisation which cares about and genuinely listens to the people living in your homes.

The Regulator of Social Housing has laid out its vision for housing associations. It expects them to be more transparent and open. Tenants should, quite rightly, have access to information and the easy ability to hold landlords to account. And tenants will be asked to assess how well they think their landlord is communicating with them.

Communications, then, can no longer be see as something purely delivered by the comms team.

It isn’t just polished documents or social media posts. This is about the whole organisation and every touch-point or conversation someone may have with it.

Strategic, consistent and highly professional communications are essential for delivering excellent customer service and high satisfaction. But, I get it. Where on Earth to start?

How can we identify areas for improvement? How do we begin transforming our culture so that tenants can always trust information and know their experiences and opinions are valued and acted upon

We have partnered with HQN to develop the Communications Audit Toolkit. Amalgamating decades of experience working with hundreds of housing associations and councils, the toolkit is a step-by-step, practical and comprehensive guide to assessing whether you have the right foundations in place to deliver excellent communications with tenants.

It highlights actions and next steps in a logically ordered and achievable way.

Once organisations have invested the time to go through the whole process, they will be highly equipped and prepared to transition into a more open, transparent and tenant-focused culture.

It will also highlight the business-critical nature of communications and why effective comms should be prioritised and invested in accordingly.

It’s not easy having the spotlight shone on us and being publicly critiqued for our failings. But let’s turn a tough lesson and a moment of reckoning into a new era for the housing sector.

Let’s commit to approaching the micro and macro through the eyes of our tenants. Then, the excellent satisfaction will naturally follow.

Join us on Wednesday, November 23 for our In their shoes event with HQN where we’ll be exploring how we can see communications through the eyes of tenants.

For a copy of our Comms Audit Toolkit please email bobbie@houghbellis.co.uk 

Bobbie Hough
managing director, Hough Bellis Communications