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Cromwood has performed well in its first tenant survey but it’s just the start of a drive to better understand our customers’ needs, explains Kevin Murphy

However well you think you’re performing as an organisation, there’s no substitute for canvassing opinion from the people whose opinion matters most – your customers.

We recently embarked on our first online survey of tenants framed around the Regulator of Social Housing’s new Tenant Satisfaction Measures (TSM).

It covers 12 questions encompassing everything from satisfaction with repairs to how happy tenants are with complaints handling.

We interact with our tenants on a regular basis and that gives us an indication of how well we’re doing. But a survey – carried out independently by an external provider – is an invaluable way to find out what customers really think about the service they’re getting.

The overall findings paint a positive picture with Cromwood ranked above average in nine out of 12 categories when compared with the scores from a cross-section of landlords surveyed by the provider.

I view this survey as a useful first step in a number of different ways.

For starters, we currently have another company conducting a telephone survey with tenants that will give us more detailed feedback. Together with the TSM results, it will provide a baseline from which we can identify areas for improvement and measure progress.

While global results are fine, what we need to do is break those findings down to really understand what our tenants are telling us. When it comes to future surveys, I’d like us to find more robust ways to establish whether we’re getting equitable delivery of our services across different groups of people.

It’s also our intention to compare Cromwood’s performance against a much larger sample of the country’s social landlords, for example through organisations such as Housemark.

But above all else, I view this survey as the start of a journey towards greater engagement with our tenants. 

Tenant engagement is challenging when you are both a small organisation and have stock that is dispersed over a wide area. We do not have concentrations of tenants in particular housing developments because of the nature of our clients.

So what vehicles could we use to ensure the tenant voice is at the heart of our decision making? It could be a focus group or a tenants’ forum – the truth is, we are open to all ideas and are throwing it open to our residents and partners for suggestions.

The TSM survey has been an important exercise for Cromwood and we’re now keen to build the momentum.

Kevin Murphy is strategic director of Cromwood Housing Group