The Customer Services Team has two main functions; to deal with customer enquiries over the phone, website or in person and to allocate vacant properties to people on the waiting list. A major objective for the Association is to strive for excellent customer service. As in most cases, the first point of contact, the Customer Services Team aims to provide the highest possible service to callers.
In 2016/17 the Customer Services Team processed 20,183 incoming calls and spent 1,282 hours on inward calls alone. The chart below illustrates the percentage of customer calls received for each service department. Reporting repairs makes the largest proportion, followed by rent payments and enquires. Of the total number of calls, on average, the Customer Services Team are able to resolve 58% without passing the call through to another department. To provide an excellent customer service, we receive regular updates and training across the Association so we can confidently deal with the variety of customer queries that come our way.
It is pleasing to note that tenant satisfaction has increased most significantly over the last three years in the following areas:
- Overall satisfaction, up from 84.3% in 2015 to 92.9%. An increase of 8.6 percentage points;
- Listening to views and acting upon them, up from 76.4% in 2015 to 84.6%. An increase of 8.2 percentage points;
- Overall quality of home, up from 79.1% in 2015 to 87.2%. An increase of 8.1 percentage points.
The second biggest function of the Customer Services Team is to allocate vacant properties to people registered on the Ceredigion and Powys joint housing registers. This year saw the introduction of a new allocation policy and process in both Powys and Ceredigion. In both counties, paper applications became redundant and were replaced with an online and telephone service managed by the relevant County Councils. In 2016, we joined the Powys Common Housing Register, replacing our own waiting list with a combined list for all social landlords in Powys. With joint housing registers in both counties, applying for a home has never been easier!
The Customer Services Team allocated 190 new and existing properties this year. This included eight new flats in Newtown (Glan-y-Dwr) and ten properties in Llanidloes (Coed y Llan). Our target to re-let properties is 15 days and our average time matched this target this year. In this time we carry out repairs to the property, making sure it meets our re-let standard before a new person takes on the tenancy.
Despite the introduction of some of the government’s Welfare Benefit reforms, the current tenant rent debt reduced by £6,663.25 during the financial year. The introduction of Universal Credit, the Welfare Benefit cap and the under-occupancy charge continue to cause challenges for both residents and the Association due to irregular and reduced payments.
Current and former tenant debt owed to the Association
The team works hard with residents who are experiencing financial difficulties to try to find a solution that enables them to repay the debt to the Association whilst managing to afford other costs. We regularly:
- Work out a payment plan that suits individual circumstances;
- Find a method of payment that suits the payer;
- Make regular contact with those tenants in arrears to ensure regular payments;
- Work with other agencies to try to get help from all areas.
The Association obtained 12 Court Orders for Possession of property for non-payment of rent last financial year of which only three resulted in evictions.
The Welfare Benefit Advisors work closely within the team to visit those residents who are having difficulty paying their rent in order to maximise their income and reduce their rent arrears. Not all residents struggling to pay the rent are in arrears and the Welfare Benefit Advisors made 604 contacts to residents last year to help with benefit applications, totalling £372,316.26 in extra benefits for residents.
Approximately 57% of our tenants pay their rent themselves; most of our tenants pay their rent on time every week, and 887 tenants were paid up to date with their rent at the end of the financial year. The team encourages payment by Direct Debit, with 660 tenants paying their rent in this way, ensuring regular and easy payment.
We look forward to the new financial year and the challenges that it will bring.
I have been struggling lately with finances and other things through life, and because of this I have buried my head in the sand. I found the Income Management Team so kind and easy to talk to. It was hectic with my children at home when the Welfare Benefit Advisor came, but she was patient and kind to me and my children. Thank you.