Implementing customer engagement at Derby Homes
Derby Homes are the latest organisation to commence implementation of the Clearview Customer engagement suite solution. This interview with Paul Cole, Customer Engagement Officer, explores the thinking behind this decision and the challenges faced by the resident involvement team.
About the organisation...
Derby Homes Limited is an arm's length management organisation (ALMO) created by Derby City Council to manage, maintain and improve its council houses and estates. The organisation was created in 2002, is non-profit making and is 100% owned and controlled by Derby City Council. They currently employ 454 staff and manage around 13,300 homes.
In 2010, they built some of the first ALMO, New Build properties in the country. They are now a key partner with Derby City Council in all new build developments to ensure new homes meet housing need in Derby.
Question: What are your resident involvement challenges?
As a result of a City Council review of Housing services in 2013, Resident Involvement was identified as a key service area that needed refreshing as 'genuine tenant involvement is modest and needs revitalising'. Involvement was seen as being limited to a few tenants who attended the 'city' board (A committee of the board) and the tenant federation meetings (DACP). Engagement across the organisation at least appeared to only involve a few individuals who were not representative of the wider body of customers.
Since the review, the resident involvement team of seven has had a restructure and is now implementing a new Customer Engagement strategy. A large part of this involves a change in culture from relying on regular meetings, in favour of being more proactive, mobile and engaging with people in their homes and communities.
Previously, outside of our regularly held “Housing Focus Groups”, no real engagement data was collected, so we weren’t in a good position to be able to understand what activities were going on across the organisation. As a result, it was hard to deliver a truly “measurable” service, let alone gather reports with any degree of accuracy.
These changes have also improved the relationship with internal teams and has given us a new challenge in co-ordinating the amount of information this type of engagement generates.
Question: Is it true that because of the cultural change towards involvement your team are now required to not only engage (and illustrate best practice in doing so to the rest of the organisation), but encourage and support other staff in the organisation to engage and capture that engagement data and feed into the process, delivering a more holistic view of customer interaction and experience?
Yes. We know there’s a lot more going on if you scratch below the surface. We’re now working a lot closer with a lot more staff. Our new strategy means everything has to be “funnelled” through us, so we get to ensure consistency and quality. We’ve never been in a position where we’ve been able to learn from data for the bigger picture, so it’s a really exciting time.
Question: Why Clearview?
After some initial research, we went through a full tendering process, based on a specification we drew up from a “wish list” of things we’d like to be able to do.
Going through the tendering process, Clearview’s submission was the best match for our specification and we felt that the responses were thorough, honest and reassuring.
We aim to have a system that provides us with a means to deliver, plan and monitor all engagement within Derby Homes. This will range from recording attendance at board meetings, Tenant Panel activities, capturing feedback, delivering surveys and tracking volunteer contribution.
We will be testing the software to its limits and will assess its potential for things like our new doorstep consultation. This will require mobile working using tablets and phones and face to face delivery of consultations in a variety of locations across the city.
We’re also keen to get to grips with the reporting, to create dashboards for multiple users and provide real-time information on hand to plan our future work and report back to Derby City Council.
Question: Your first impressions of Clearview?
We’re still at the early stages of implementation. Clearview have been good so far, liaising with our IT team and keeping us up to speed on the implementation. We look forward to testing the new system and getting our staff using it in real, front line situations.