Housing Digital interview -Feedback Ferret shares insights on how housing associations can improve customer engagement and deal with resident feedback efficiently

We know that listening to the voice of tenants is a vital part of Social Housing White paper’s tenants’ charter. Housing associations place an enormous effort into providing residents’ with the ability to provide feedback through structured surveys, call centre transcripts, social media and other channels.

The issue that most housing associations have is that whilst they wish to provide a range of engagement channels, this means that silos are created within the organisation with different systems and processes being used to collect and make use of the data.

Where Feedback Ferret can help is that we provide a text analytic solution that brings that feedback from all those channels into one place. Our text analytic solution disseminates and then analyses the comments delivering the results into one easy to use platform which can be integrated into existing solutions as well.

All departments can have access to the same feedback information. It makes it easier for everyone from the repairs teams to the well-being and customer service teams to understand what are the key issues in residents’ feedback. And to ensure that the most serious of comments are never missed.

How crucial is it to get that in-the-moment instant/type of feedback from residents?

Great question. Acting quickly to address serious issues means you get out ahead of those issues ensuring complaints do happen or escalate. I hear anecdotally that each complaint has a people overhead cost of around £3,000. By helping reduce the number of complaints the solution more than pays for itself within the firstmonth of adoption. This is without mentioning the beneficial impact on residents.

“By identifying things like vulnerable residents, staff rudeness, poor time-keeping for repairs etc. we can really discover the issues that affect a large volume of residents right down to a small number of people or an individual”

No one wants to be left waiting for action to be taken. Speedy responses result in less anxiety and greater appreciation for the support provided and are key drivers of positive customer satisfaction scores.

How does the Feedback Ferret technology improve efficiencies for landlords?

There are numerous ways but some of the key ones are reduced cost and time involved in the analysis of data. Collating 1000’s of comments weekly or even just monthly is a time consuming and difficult task. Our solution takes that element out of the process. 

Secondly, housing associations can identify key inefficiencies, for example, repeatedly missed appointments, not doing a first-time fix by certain geographies or contractors which in the long term can govern strategic decisions.

Finally, I would say speed, the data is processed at near real time and we offer alerts for keywords or phrases so landlords can offer a speedy turnaround enabling timely interventions to prevent dangerous health and safety issues, offset legal threats, identify resident vulnerabilities and other critical actions.

For landlords who aren’t doing too well on customer engagement, what should they do to improve?

It is a tough question because it depends where the key failings are. I would always suggest to start by looking at all the comments you have across all the different channels and figuring out where are your strengths and weaknesses.

Of course, the best answer would be to get in touch with us and we can collect all your existing data, run it though Feedback Ferret’s platform and give you powerful insight into what your residents are really talking about. All without having to initiate yet another survey or mechanism to elicit feedback.

Name 3 ways that we can help

Firstly, by bringing all the data together it is possible to get that holistic view of what is really happening and to ensure nothing is inadvertently being missed.

Secondly, by having machines take up the heavy lifting in interpreting comments into actionable insights we can deliver relevant information to specific people in a timely fashion. Machines are fast, they are consistent and they cost a lot less than people.

Thirdly, by identifying things like vulnerable residents, staff rudeness, poor time-keeping for repairs etc. we can really discover the issues that affect a large volume of residents right down to a small number of people or an individual. The positive experience for a tenant if a housing associations can take for example, a comment about a recent hip replacement operation and schedule a call offering support with disabled facility grants for aids and adaptations around the home, help with additional welfare payments and care arrangements is really powerful in driving satisfaction.

Are you planning to make any changes to the Feedback Ferret product?

We started down a path of aligning our Text Analytics code framework with regulatory requirements sometime ago and I am pleased to say we will not be deviating from that development work for quite some time. With such significant regulatory pressures bearing down on the sector this is likely to be one of the most insightful and valuable tools to ensure serious issues are identified and remediated and there is a culture of continuous improvement being implemented with technology at the heart of it.

In the future we will be developing against standards such as Decent Homes, and Building Safety whilst we wait for confirmation of updated standards from the regulator. We felt it was prudent to not sit back and wait for those standards as, when they are released, we believe the vast majority of topics will be covered in our pre-coded lexicon and it should be a simple process to match any additional regulatory reporting requirements.

“Speedy responses result in less anxiety and greater appreciation for the support provided and are key drivers of positive customer satisfaction scores”

Whilst we cannot guarantee regulatory compliance, it does demonstrate to the regulator that residents are given every opportunity to have a voice and that that voice is listened to and aligned to the regulatory requirements. The reports we generate are in a format that the regulator understands and can track improvements overtime.

What does the future look like?

It is very exciting. We have a firm determination to help the sector through the most challenging transformation in a generation. We have solutions that identify key drivers of customer satisfaction and support them in meeting regulatory requirements. We have the capability to rapidly adapt the solution as new requirements come to fruition.

We believe we will be the trusted partner of most housing associations and the go-to provider for regulatory compliance driven by customer feedback.

Any final recommendations?

I would encourage housing associations to continue offering convenient ways for residents to engage but to ensure the data that is collected has some centralised management. I would also encourage housing associations to set up single points of contact for their residents.

If a resident mentions a vulnerability along with poor housing condition and anxiety over Anti-Social Behaviour they should not then be contacted by 3 or 4 different people to achieve a resolution. Instead, have one person take ownership of the issues and farm out the works internally to those that can help them. In this way, the bigger picture of the resident well-being is not missed and a much better experience is provided.

Finally, look for the low volume but high impact mentions – Health and Safety, Legal Threat, Rudeness, Vulnerabilities etc. and use us to help you route notifications to the correct front line staff in a timely fashion, which means as close to real-time as possible.