ServiceWatch meeting blog

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July 2017 meeting overview

Our July meeting was in Exeter. We went through the minutes from our the last meeting, our action tracker and the latest news.

At this meeting, we received an update about what the organisation was doing following the Grenfell Tower fire. This has had a profound effect on housing associations. they have checked properties, reviewed fire assessments and reassured customers of their safety. We were very impressed with the speed and detail of the investigations.

We then moved onto performance data and complimented the improved areas.

Next, we received an update about the customer census which was interesting. Customer census response numbers were good and feedback was positive.

The complaints and compliments update followed. Compliments are now fed back to all staff and there has been an improvement in the service received.

Next was a report on customer satisfaction with repairs and maintenance. This was a detailed report. It indicated a focus on improving customer satisfaction. ServiceWatch is looking forward to seeing future results for this area in upcoming meetings.

ServiceWatch then reviewed our current support, communications and work programme.

Finally were workshop sessions on compensation and home reviews, leading to a lively discussion.

If you would like to discuss being a member of ServiceWatch please email us at servicewatch@livewest.co.uk

May 2017 meeting overview

Our May ServiceWatch meeting took place in Pool. We went through minutes from the last meeting, key performance indicator details and received updates on key board decisions.

We commenced the meeting discussing the proposed merger news between DCH and Knightstone. ServiceWatch members were positive about the proposed merger. We hope there will be a place for involved customers in the future, to ensure the high standards which they have reached will continue.

There was an interesting report on the Customer Service Centre and the new strategies in place to ensure customers will be able to contact LiveWest and report repairs easily. There was a positive report on the changes to customer feedback handling and the new benefits for customers.

We looked at our own ServiceWatch member updates, support, work programme, code of conduct and probity standards and our future ServiceWatch away day.
After lunch, we continued our reviews around the quality of homes. We still have further work to do on this though away from the meeting.

We then went to visit the Customer Service Centre which was inspirational. We saw the staff in action, answering calls dealing with queries and making appointments. There is an amazing work ethic there. On speaking to one member of staff he was explaining this was the best job he has ever had, as his previous employer didn’t take his health and wellbeing into consideration. He said it was a great employer and he wanted to do his best for the customers.

He said, 'I love my job, I have a great manager and I want to help customers, as this organisation has helped me.'

He enjoys his job and told a friend about working for the organisation and recommended that he apply. His friend did and is now part of the team.

This conversation was touching. I felt inspired by how much he wanted to help others.

If you would like to discuss being a member of ServiceWatch please email us at servicewatch@livewest.co.uk

February 2017 meeting overview

Our February ServiceWatch meeting took place in Exeter, where we welcomed a new member to the group. We also welcomed two observers from the Customer Service Committee.

The meeting began by reviewing the minutes from the last meeting, monitoring our current outcomes and key performance indicators. Overall the figures have improved since ServiceWatch's implementation. I believe this is a positive reflection on the improvements made by the organisation with the help of ServiceWatch.

Our first discussion was about the customer feedback report; we also received a verbal update on the Customer Service Committee group.

Next was a fascinating presentation on Community Investment. This was well received by ServiceWatch and we thought it was inspiring. Their Community Investment work is amazing and far reaching. ServiceWatch said thank you to Paul Marshall, Director of Community Engagement and his team for awarding ServiceWatch with a Community Champion award. You can read more about our award here

We had a lively debate about the Shared Ownership customer survey results, relating to staircasing and information given at the time of purchase.

ServiceWatch discussed the Letting standards review and we agreed to look at this again at a later stage.

There was a review of the forthcoming ServiceWatch work programme, communications and training.

If you would like to discuss being a member of ServiceWatch please email us at servicewatch@livewest.co.uk

December 2016 meeting overview

This meeting was attended by a member of the Customer Service Committee, who observed us. 

We read previous meeting minutes, reviewed performance indicators and received feedback on our progress. Our reviews have had a significant impact on customer service, which was encouraging to hear.

We raised our concerns about the customer feedback report and we requested some more research into this area, to try to improve performance further.

Rent statements are being amended and will be reviewed by ServiceWatch in 2017.

We had a discussion on MyAccount, where we looked at checking rent balances online.

We started the review of lettable standards and the information given to new customers. There were some amendments and questions that arose about the new customer pack. It was noted that this will be online in the future.

A review is about to start regarding compensation payments made to customers. This will be a complex area for us to review, but we enjoy challenging work and making improvements to customer service.

We reviewed the annual performance update which is now available on our website for customers to view. This was clear, concise and interesting to read. It was complemented by one of our members with sight issues. This has improved since ServiceWatch started as it once was a weighty document, which was difficult to understand.

ServiceWatch will be interviewing three new potential members soon following a recruitment process which includes observing two meetings.

We are always interested to hear from new potential members of ServiceWatch. If you are interested in joining us please email servicewatch@livewest.co.uk

November 2016 meeting overview

This meeting was held in Pool, Cornwall and we were pleased to welcome some potential new ServiceWatch applicants who were observing our meeting.

We started our meeting by looking at our existing outcomes, performance indicators and customer feedback.

There was then a verbal report given about the Customer Service Committee.

There was a discussion on communication and how to promote what we do in different ways. We talked about new ideas around how ServiceWatch can gain customer views on particular topics.

ServiceWatch then began the review on lettable standards. We looked at the existing standard, customer expectations and case studies.

There was a presentation to ServiceWatch about the Customer Service Centre and proposed improvements.
ServiceWatch reviewed the current work programme and discussed new training opportunities. We also discussed the interview process for new members and planned future meetings.

After our meeting, we visited the Customer Service Centre and had the opportunity to listen to calls being taken. Members of staff were helpful and engaged and we were impressed with the six-week induction and training schedule. Members of staff spend a great deal of time learning about systems. They also work in partnership with trained members of the team and with the Repairs team. The Customer Service Centre visit was interesting and staff should be congratulated on their knowledge and willingness to help customers.

September 2016 meeting overview

At the start of our September meeting, we were greeted by three observers who have expressed an interest in joining ServiceWatch. Attending our meeting gives these applicants the chance to see how the panel works. It was lovely to see such enthusiastic people who are interested in improving customer service. We hope that by attending the meeting they have seen that we are a really effective team.

To start, we reviewed key performance information. Some of which has improved, especially in the context of unoccupied properties. This shows great commitment from staff to turn properties around in a faster timeframe.

ServiceWatch received an updated customer feedback report, where we looked at complaints and compliments. We saw what is working well and also areas that need further investigation. We looked closely at if a particular team member has been dealing with customers in a way which encourages them to have a positive view. This could be used to aid other team members to alter their style to achieve a positive outcome.

We saw a presentation on anti-social behaviour. This was from the perspective of the enforcement team and neighbourhood managers. We were given an overview of some of the cases they have dealt with, which we found interesting. It gave us a real feel of some of the daily issues that these teams face. This raised a few questions and ServiceWatch will gather together at a later time to discuss this in detail.

There was also a presentation on Housing Support. We were impressed by the number of people (331 last year) who were assisted in this area. The success rate is to be commended, but ServiceWatch will continue to review this area closely.

We also looked at the customer service improvement plan. New changes being introduced have continued to improve several areas even more.

Finally, there was a brief overview of the new Housing and Planning Act 2016.

This was a busy meeting and I hope the new potential ServiceWatch applicants found it enjoyable too.

July 2016 meeting overview

The July meeting sadly started with the notification that Les Mazurek was leaving ServiceWatch. He is well respected and will be much missed by the group. Next up was a lively discussion about the new Customer Service Committee.

All ServiceWatch members will be appraised in December/January. We will look at how we work within the group and will examine if further support or training is required.
Next, we examined the recruitment of ServiceWatch members. We voted to add a member of staff to the ServiceWatch recruitment panel but to keep the majority control with members.

The team looked at the key performance indicators and raised a few issues related to customer satisfaction and waiting times.

We reviewed customer feedback and noted that there was further work to do in this area and are looking forward to the Customer Insight Manager attending our next meeting.

We discussed our recent ServiceWatch away day. We all thought this was useful but that the TPAS training could have been made more relevant to the housing sector.

We examined how we report to customers. We agreed to look at further ways to engage and report to customers. We had a great discussion on meeting with other scrutiny groups, training and individual evaluation.

If you're interested in joining ServiceWatch please email servicewatch@livewest.co.uk

May 2016 meeting overview

This meeting started with a look at some draft new rent statements, an area of great interest for ServiceWatch and we agreed that there will be a review of two formats. About 100 customers will help to test these and identify the clearest version.

ServiceWatch looked at the new revised performance metrics for 2016-17. These are service standard indicators which show if there is a fall or rise in satisfaction. This highlights a specific area for ServiceWatch to watch and ensure standards don't fall. Sometimes it may be for instance that the weather can play a part in this. For instance when storms occur, there may be more repairs needed. This can mean that the repair time can drop because of demand. Also, this can affect the call centres if there is a lot of damage to fences and buildings.

We looked at the complaints feedback report, which detailed the numbers of complaints and reasons why. We reviewed customer satisfaction with the complaints process and noted the improved process and better approach to customer complaints. This is an area to be reported on and learnt from as it celebrates that staff and processes that are working well and highlights improvements.

ServiceWatch looked at communications for our group and asked to use Twitter to highlight reviews and meetings. We agreed to continue the blogs. We look forward to an improved website which will make finding ServiceWatch easier.

Jason Smith presented on rechargeable repairs. There were several queries which Jason agreed to look at in more detail and report back. We are concerned that due to costs, customers may decide not to go ahead with some repairs; we asked if this could be monitored.

The shared ownership satisfaction survey was reviewed and we suggested some further amends. This is an area of special interest for one of our members who have taken up shared ownership.

We ended by discussing the ServiceWatch away day, the ongoing work programme and support for ServiceWatch.

You can make a difference and improve customer service. If you're interested in becoming a member of ServiceWatch or want to know please email Servicewatch@livewest.co.uk

March 2016 meeting overview

Our meeting started with a look at key performance indicators. It was agreed that the area of voids and letting standards may require a future ServiceWatch review. Income management was discussed and LiveWest are looking to support customers further by signposting customers who have been affected by benefit cuts. The customer service centre performance was not as strong as it has been before, we will be updated at the next meeting.

The complaints and customer feedback report showed that satisfaction had improved but the number of complaints has not fallen. We agreed to review the jump in number of complaints from December to January to identify trends. The formats of graphs in the report are to be reviewed to ease readability.

ServiceWatch then had a presentation about the current rent statements. Four different templates are to be presented at the next ServiceWatch meeting which will be followed by a consultation with customers. We were informed of the proposed new online rent system being developed to help customers check their current balance and make payments.

We discussed the ServiceWatch away day format and formed a small working group to agree the structure. The day will focus on training members, holding a reflective session and looking at other scrutiny groups’ profiles. We may discuss if ServiceWatch can play a greater role in consultation.

Members then looked the aids and adaptations draft report. We are happy with the report; we did discuss monitoring minor adaptations being installed.

A draft probity questionnaire was discussed. All members agreed to complete it and return it. The responses form a collated register and ensure members do not have conflicting areas of interest. This will help ensure that all members work with truthfulness, transparency and equality.

We ended things by discussing communications and the work programme.

If you're interested in joining ServiceWatch or want to know more email servicewatch@livewest.co.uk

February 2016 meeting overview

Our meeting began with thanking Hazel for her support of ServiceWatch and presenting her with gifts. We then discussed new support arrangements now Hazel has left; this included the Governance team who will provide us with a link to auditors.

This was followed by an update and presentation on housing and the customer service centre, which has a new system being installed to go live in April. One of the improvements will be an option for a call back service.

We looked at the key performance indicators results and our monitoring outcomes tracker and agreed on items to remain on the tracker until we are satisfied with the response

We also looked at the complaints and compliments report and agreed that further work still needs to be done. A review of the Board scrutiny updates highlighted that service charges may be an area for a future review.

We reviewed the aids and adaptations review summary. Further questions are to be put to the team before providing a draft report for our approval.

Communications about the group were reviewed and we felt that our blog and the ServiceWatch webpage are not being used to full advantage.

We ended the meeting after reviewing our current work programme and ServiceWatch support. If you're interested in joining ServiceWatch or want to know more please email servicewatch@livewest.co.uk

December 2015 meeting overview

The December ServiceWatch meeting was held in Truro. The revised budget forecast was discussed. We received an interesting and positive report presentation from the Repairs team. There has been improvements in multi- skilled tradesmen and scheduling of tasks. There has also been partnership agreements which have given further cost savings. Improvements have been made to empty properties. The Repairs team now have away days, further training and apprentices. This report highlighted the great work that has been done to improve customer service. The Reapirs team should be congratulated for this fantastic news.

November 2015 meeting overview

Our November ServiceWatch meeting took place in Plymouth. On the day we welcomed a new member to our team. We received an update on the new rent statements which will may be ready for early 2016. These new rent statements will go out to residents in April. They are also looking at the possibility of online statements. We reviewed the complaints and customer feedback and received a detailed presentation. We discussed board scrutiny reports. A debate took place about payment for resident members. We discussed the communication from and to ServiceWatch. We looked at other ways to engage with other residents and promote ServiceWatch.

Our main aim for this meeting was to come up with questions about the aids and adaptations service. We also looked at customer contact and transformation. We discussed the Quality Assurance Scheme (QAS). We looked at Equality and Diversity training and the 2016 proposed meeting dates.

July 2015 meeting overview

Complaints and customer feedback

ServiceWatch reviewed how LiveWest currently deals with complaints, including the stages and processes involved in achieving a good outcome for everyone. ServiceWatch also scrutinised the statistics relating to different types of complaints/feedback and how changes in practices has impacted on the overall outcome/results. Part of this review was a presentation from the Customers Service Team which covered how customer service staff are trained and the aligning of common procedures throughout Devon and Cornwall adopting 'best practice' strategies from each area.

Rechargeable repair reviews

ServiceWatch looked at the issues of rechargeable repairs and how it will impact on customers and which repairs customers are eligible for. ServiceWatch challenged some areas of the new scheme, for example, the costs of repairs to customers and the costs to the organisation involved in repairing/upgrading void properties.