Understanding Drivers of Customer Satisfaction in the Social Housing Sector
There is substantial service performance information and customer satisfaction data available in the social housing sector due to regulatory reporting requirements and a focus on improving service delivery. However, the links between service standards, organisational performance and customer satisfaction are not clearly understood. Millions of pounds are spent annually in the sector on the measurement of customer satisfaction surveys and service benchmarking, but there appears to be no causal link or correlation between high customer satisfaction and high service delivery standards. Recent research confirms the above and more research is required in the sector to fully understand the drivers of customer satisfaction in the social housing sector. This case study is how One Vision Housing (OVH), a Registered Housing Provider (RP), recognised this problem some time ago; they have responded operationally to understand the drivers of customer satisfaction in a structured way and align their service investment based on customer feedback. OVH evaluated a number of operational approaches to increase their customer understanding. SERVQUAL was explored as a possible methodology but based on the lack of use in the social housing sector as well as the pitfalls of the approach as reported by Francis Buttle (Eur J Mark 30(1):8–32, 1996), OVH decided to go back to the basics of service quality and to monitor the ten dimensions of service quality over a year. This allowed OVH to evaluate trends and see how property and service investments and other operational decisions have impacted on their customers Customer survey results over a year identified the top four dimensions of service quality to improve as competence, access, responsiveness and communication. Detailed analysis shows that access to services for customers has improved over the year and improvement across this dimension correlates positively with key investment decisions and operational improvements. The use of the ten dimensions of service quality to understand the links between customer satisfaction and service delivery is an innovative approach for the social housing sector, and there are no practitioner or academic publications about this approach, the methodology, pitfalls and potential benefits.
The authors wish to thank One Vision Housing for permission to publish this case study.