As Customer Service Week hits the halfway mark, Sue Chalkley, Interim CEO at Golding Homes, explains why the association is renewing its commitment to customers…
I dread ringing my service provider when I have a problem with my broadband reception at home. I dread ringing them so much, that I will put up with faults for weeks and months before I can muster the energy to spend the time and emotional energy to get things fixed.
Customer Service Week is a great opportunity to remind ourselves about how our customers are central to all we do. They are the heart of our organisations – we exist for them, and the services that we provide should be the highest quality.
After the terrible Grenfell Tower fire, I remember the new housing minister travelling around the country, holding roundtable meetings with social housing tenants. He was clearly greatly impressed by the people he met, and I think it’s fair to say that these meetings changed some of his pre-conceptions.
This in turn inspired the Social Housing Green Paper. Five key points emerged from these meetings. All were important. One of these five was about how the stigma of living in a social home, on a run-down estate, impacts on self-esteem and how self-esteem affects our life chances.
“Good customer service should start from the customer’s perspective – not ours”
Our role, as housing associations that care about so much more than the bricks and mortar, must be to work to remove that stigma. Much of this will come from plans to improve people’s homes and the local environment but, in this Customer Service Week, it also importantly comes from how we treat our customers.
Do we communicate with our customers with respect? Are we prompt in our responses? Do we try to resolve their issue as soon as possible? Do we try to make it as simple as possible for them, even if it makes our work a bit more complicated? Good customer service should start from the customer’s perspective – not from ours.
At Golding Homes, we are revisiting our customer service journey. We want to give outstanding customer service, that shows respect and a genuine concern to provide speedy and effective responses.
We are also refreshing how we deal with the inevitable failures, streamlining our complaints processes and learning from each error so it doesn’t happen again.
So as part of this journey, I was really thrilled to see the responses from a recent all staff virtual catch up session responding to the question ‘What would you like Golding to be known for?’:
I think the responses from colleagues right across the business show there is an appetite among our people to make sure we are moving in the right direction, and I have every confidence that the journey we are on will very quickly improve the way our customers think of us and how our people feel about the difference they are making.
It is so encouraging to know that so many colleagues want to be a provider of great customer service and are already doing their best for our customers. We have a bright future, and so do our customers.
Main image: Sue Chalkley, Interim CEO, Golding Homes
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