Working with our customers: engagement update Jan - Dec 2020

Listening to our customers’ views is very important to us. Your feedback makes a difference to the way we deliver our services, drives improvements for everyone who lives in a First Choice Homes Oldham (FCHO) home and helps us as we strive to be an excellent landlord.

During 2020 we asked customers for their views on how we care for our neighbourhoods, support our customers while they live in one of our homes, and how we get homes ready to move into.

How we gathered your feedback

Our Stronger Communities team engaged with our customers in a variety of ways throughout the year, and tailored their approach in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic to keep customers and our colleagues safe.

Activity included:

  • Community based sessions with customers in January 2020
  • 361 telephone calls to customers
  • 5 virtual meetings with customers
  • 46 email surveys with customers.

Here’s what you told us, along with details of how we’ve acted on your feedback.

You said: 37% of customers asked said you would prefer a cut and collect grass cutting service.

We have:

  • Trialled a cut and collect grass cutting service for four weeks during the first national lockdown in 2020.
  • Reviewed customer satisfaction survey results gathered during the last grass cutting season (March-October 2020). This season was impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and the number of cuts we could deliver for customers safely in line with government guidance was restricted.

Based on the cut and collect trial and the customer satisfaction survey results, we’ll make a decision on how we deliver this year’s grass cutting schedule and we’ll share details by March 2021.

We have also enlisted Neighbourhood Champions to review our current grass cutting standards and schedules, and their feedback will help shape the service.

You said: Grass cuttings should be blown away from pathways and not blown onto doorways and windows

We have: Implemented this change to our service and our teams have been briefed on this.

You said: Pathways should be litter picked before grass cutting

We have: Implemented this change to our service and our teams have been briefed on this.

You said: Bigger bin chutes should be fitted in communal blocks.

We have: Made this one of the priorities for our waste management working group. It is currently working on a pilot project which will look at how we can improve bin chutes in communal blocks.

You said: FCHO and Oldham Council need to deal with dog fouling issues and the offending dog owners.

We have: Made this one of the priorities for our waste management working group to tackle.

You said: You would like the tenancy agreement document to be more reader-friendly.

We have: Redesigned our tenancy agreement to make it simpler to read. We’ve introduced a front page which highlights key information to customers, included a contents page to help make the document easier to use and changed the layout to make it easier to  read.

You said: You would like to see our tenancy agreement make it clearer what tenants can and can’t do in their tenancy.

We have: Changed the way we work and this type of information will be given out at pre-tenancy stage. We are also going to increase the number of visits that our Neighbourhood Officers pay to all new customers to help address any issues early on.

You said: You would like your tenancy agreement to include contact details for your Neighbourhood Officer.

We have: Made sure that all new customers are given details of their Neighbourhood Officer and how to contact them to keep with their tenancy agreement. So that you can find details of your Neighbourhood Officer quickly, we are also updating our website and you will be able to find details on here soon.

You said: You would like us to make the text on the tenancy agreement bigger, so it’s easier to read.

We have: Increased the text size and we are also making sure that our tenancy agreement is available online on our website link, so it can be viewed at any size. We can also print out the tenancy agreement with bigger text for customers, if required. Please just ask your Neighbourhood Officer.

You said: You would like to have direct contact with your Neighbourhood Officer via MyAccount.

We have: Taken this onboard and you will be able to do this by the end of April 2021.

You said: 94% of customers asked said you would like a single point of contact at FCHO for antisocial behaviour (ASB) complaints.

We have: Listened to you and we are setting up a specialist team of officers to respond to ASB complaints. Customers will be given a single point of contact throughout their case to make the process smoother.

You said: In ASB cases, you would like reassurance that we’ll make contact with you quickly once a complaint has been made, and we’ll keep to agreed timescales and keep you updated throughout the process.

We have: Put in place steps to ensure agreed timescales are adhered to and customers can agree with their dedicated officer how often they would like to be updated on their case.

You said: We should continue to have three stages to our complaints process.

We have: Listened to your feedback however this will not be included in our new policy that is due to go for board approval in March 2021. The change is based on a recommendation in the Ombudsman’s Complaint Handling Code. Under this customers still have a final stage of the complaints process available to them, which is to have their case heard by the Housing Ombudsman.

You said: Some customers would prefer to talk to a person regarding a complaint.

We have: Made sure you can make a complaint or discuss your complaint in a way that suits you:

  • By phone – 0161 393 7117 - our lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday
  • By post – FCHO Tellus, First Place, 22 Union Street, Oldham, OL1 1BE
  • Online – by filling in a complaint form
  • In person – First Place, 22 Union Street, Oldham, OL1 1BE, current opening hours can be found on our website. Please note in line with government advice about coronavirus, our offices continue to be closed to customers and we’re still delivering a reduced face-to-face service, but we are still here to help you by phone, post and online.

You said: Regarding the timeframes for managing complaints, 31.7% of customers would be happy to see these extended if needed to deal with it thoroughly.

When dealing with a complaint we currently acknowledge your complaint within 2 days and put an action plan in place to resolve within 5 days.

We have: Updated our Complaints Policy and it will be presented to our board in March 2021. If approved the acknowledgment and response timescales will be:

Stage 1 Acknowledgment: 3 working days

Stage 1 Responded to: 7 working days

Stage 2 Acknowledgment: 3 working days

Stage 2 Responded to: 15 working days

You said: You prefer to receive written correspondence regarding complaints.

We have: Put steps in place to make sure all customers receive regular updates on the progress of their complaint via their preferred method of contact. They will also receive an acknowledgement letter and a response letter.

You said: 67% of customers told us that property condition is your top priority when you move into an FCHO home. 24% said cleanliness is the second most important factor.

We have: Reviewed the standard of our homes when we let them to customers and we make sure they are in a clean and safe condition that meets the  Your New Home Standard. This document is emailed to all new customers when they sign up for a property.

We have also made sure our teams are aware of the Your New Home Standard when they are carrying out work.

You said: 29% of customers told us they would be happy to move into a property with only minor works to be completed.

11% of customers surveyed said they would be happy to have major works done around them.

We have: Put in place measures to understand each customer’s situation on a case by case basis and accommodate customers where timings allow.

You said: You would like better communication throughout the repairs process to help manage your expectations when you are moving into an FCHO home.

We have: Improved our communication with our customers, starting when you are allocated a home and we’ll will keep you informed about the progress of works needed.

You said: you are dissatisfied with the length of time it takes to move into your property.

We have: acted on your feedback and we will keep customers and all teams up to date on the progress of work required at your home and timescales involved.

You said: You were disappointed that we remove some fixtures and fittings from homes, despite them being in good condition.

We have: Listened and changed the process for incoming customers to have the option of keeping fixtures and fittings if they like.

More ways we’ve been working with customers to make positive changes Oct-Dec 2020 …

Our Stronger Communities team held 13 different customer engagement activities in this period and customers were involved for a total of 194 hours.

Activity included:

  • Customer Voice Panel meetings for customers to share their views and help us improve our services
  • Customer Panel to interview candidates for the role of our new Chief Executive
  • Online meetings with customers to gather feedback on our Contact Centre Chatbot and live chat trial
  • Performance Scrutiny meeting, in which customers reviewed and discussed our performance.
  • Online meetings to review our new Repairs and Maintenance Policy and Aids and Adaptations Policy.

Successful second round of Respect Our Community Awards (ROCA) funding.

  • £5,070 distributed to nine Oldham-based community and voluntary groups to help make a difference to the lives of local people.

Our Customer Voice Panel (CVP) has gone from strength to strength

  • Opportunity for customers to share their views and valuable feedback that we can use to shape our services
  • Two meetings held this quarter: Performance Scrutiny Challenge meetings held in September 2020 and January 2021 with 37 customers involved
  • 24 customers got involved, 17 of which were customers new to FCHO
  • Some CVP members have expressed an interest in joining further customer scrutiny groups
  • We’re recruiting for CVP members on an ongoing basis so it’s representative of our customers
  • Calendar of 2021 CVP meeting dates agreed. Next meetings are 28 and 29 April 2021.

Neighbourhood Champions are helping to improve their community

  • Opportunity for customers to monitor the communal cleaning, grounds maintenance and other services that we deliver in their area to help improve our services.
  • 7 customers got involved in Oct 2020 and 23 were involved in Jan 2021
  • 35 hours of involvement.

Customers and people and businesses in Oldham are helping to shape our West Vale redevelopment project

  • One consultation meeting held with three local residents and one local business
  • Public consultation on our proposals for West Vale held 8-22 January 2021. Responses are being reviewed and we’ll share details soon.
  • We are currently liaising with local residents, businesses and schools about the new development and how we can support the local community.
Engagement Session 2