A lot has happened in the complaints service over the last twelve months. A new policy was implemented in spring 2020 and this was followed by us carrying out an assessment against a new good practice ‘code’ set out by the Housing Ombudsman Service. This was a useful exercise as it enabled us to see what we were doing right and where we needed to improve, which resulted in some changes to our ways of working. We also appointed a new Customer Complaints Lead in November 2020.
Complaints in summary
Formal stage 1 complaints received in the year – 473 of which 33 escalated to stage 2 appeal
Time taken to resolve complaints
Stage 1 cases resolved in an average of 15 working days (target 10 working days)
Stage 2 cases resolved in an average of 14 working days (target 15 working days)
% of complaints resolved within target
Stage 1 cases – 60%
Stage 2 cases - 70%
Complaints in context
42% of complaints were about repairs
16% were about neighbourhood services
10% about grounds maintenance/caretaking
Learning and improving from complaints
We are always looking at ways to learn and improve as a result of complaints from customers, some examples of how we have done this in the last year are:
- Reasonable Adjustments Policy - a new policy has been approved in direct response to a complaint made from a customer highlighting where we needed to improve when dealing with more vulnerable customers.
- Empty homes/gas servicing certificates – following a complaint the process of issuing safety certificates in the name of the previous tenant has been changed.
- Improving asbestos awareness – in response to a complaint we have produced a customer information booklet about asbestos in the home. This is now provided to new tenants and those wishing to carry out alterations/improvements in their home.
- Supporting customers with gas heating problems in winter - in response to complaints about the gas heating service during the cold snap in February, we have reviewed our response to the increase in demand and are making some changes as a result:
Actively monitoring upcoming cold weather events. Where we are aware of an extremely cold snap of weather being on its way we will make arrangements to move some of our gas servicing engineers over to our responsive team so we have more available resources.
As most of the issues faced were caused by frozen condensate pipes we will make information available for tenants showing how they can be proactive and prevent their pipes from freezing. This information will be actively promoted when we are aware cold weather is imminent.
We are exploring the possibility of a programme of works to reduce the risks of these pipes freezing by moving their position and protecting them from the elements. This will be initially targeted at those neighbourhoods were we experienced a large number of call outs due to this problem.
Customer Complaints Panel
The Customer Complaints Panel work with us to improve the complaints service and the experience for customers. One way they do this is by scrutinising recent complaints and providing invaluable feedback regarding what we have done well and what we need to do better moving forward so that the customers experience is improved.