Driving resident engagement at Salix Homes

At Salix Homes, we have adopted Together with Tenants to transform the way we engage with residents through a new and modern approach to resident engagement.

This has been led by the creation of our Customer Committee and Customer Charter, which has helped strengthen our commitment towards putting customers at the heart of how we operate, making sure their voices drive meaningful change.

What’s the story?

We have adopted Together with Tenants as a catalyst for culture change within our organisation and to build on the measures proposed in the Social Housing White Paper to deliver improvements in transparency and accountability.

In 2019, following a review of our resident engagement structure, we created a new Customer Committee, to put customers at the heart of how we operate as a social landlord.

The Committee is made up of 12 members including residents and people from the local community who hold us to account on Consumer Standards and ensure we meet expectations and outcomes for residents. They are paid the same amount as our board members and given parity in terms of our governance structures.

In adopting Together with Tenants, we have introduced performance reporting for our Customer Committee, Senior Management Team (SMT) and Board.

The key to the success of the project has been the creation of a new Customer Charter, highlighting our commitment to providing the best possible service for our residents. The Charter, called ‘Our Promise to You’  sets out a comprehensive set of new promises for customers so they know exactly what to expect from us as their social landlord.

The promises have been developed with our Customer Committee, as well as in wider consultation with customers. They are focused on the following seven key areas:

  • Your Voice – we will ask for and value your views.
  • Respect – we will treat you with respect, and our relationship will be based on trust, honesty and transparency.
  • Communication – we will give you clear and accessible information on the issues that matter to you.
  • Safety – we will put the quality and safety of your home at the heart of how we build, improve, maintain, and manage your home and neighbourhood.
  • Our Services – we will provide housing services to you that are efficient, consistent and easy to access.
  • Resolution – we will make sure you have a simple and accessible way of raising issues, making complaints, and putting things right.
  • Accountability – we will work in partnership with you so you can independently monitor us and hold us to account.

We used internal communications on the importance of adopting the Charter alongside an internal campaign encouraging our staff to ‘pledge’ their commitment to the Charter. This helps us improve our customer service and obtain buy-in from senior leaders across the business.

What was the impact?

Through improvements made to our resident engagement structure, we have been able to implement a performance framework shaped around Together with Tenants. All of our customer promises can be reported to our Senior Leadership Team, Customer Committee and board.                                                                                                                                                 

Throughout the process, we worked closely with residents to build trust and make their voices heard. We consulted over 7000 customers and gained feedback from over 300 customers.

We created a dedicated page on our website, which gives residents the opportunity to independently review our performance; improving transparency and accountability.

To further empower our Customer Committee, we introduced special Scrutiny Reports led by members, to examine various aspects of the services we provide as a social landlord. Residents can also read the latest scrutiny reports on our website, which include findings and recommendations from all the services reviewed.

The creation of a Customer Committee and our Customer Charter has helped us put residents at the core of how we operate, build trust and strengthen relationships.

Sector recognition

A big achievement for us as a housing association has been sector wide recognition for the improvements we made to our resident engagement structure. In 2021, we were named finalists in the ‘Outstanding Tenant Engagement’ category of the TPAS Awards, for our commitment to resident engagement and our Customer Committee.

Our Customer Committee initiative also won the award for ‘Best Resident Involvement Initiative’ in the Northern Housing Awards 2021.

What barriers, challenges or points of learning did you identify?

Ensuring our Customer Charter – ‘Our Promise to You’ was engaging and meaningful was our biggest challenge throughout this process. We achieved this by making sure all staff understood the importance of taking ownership of the promises we make to our customers and delivering high quality customer service. The remote nature of working from home during the start of the coronavirus pandemic only added more difficulty and it’s something we still review.

All staff were sent a copy of the Charter’s commitments as part of a high-profile internal campaign alongside a personal opportunity to virtually make a pledge against the charter.

The charter was launched in 2021 by our Executive Director of Operations and Customer Committee Chair. This has since been embedded across our organisation with measures in place for managers to review their own service along with their teams against our Customer Charter’s commitments. This includes discussions on how promises are being met at monthly 1-1’s with staff alongside reports to our SMT and Customer Committee.

More work is being done to help tailor our survey approach to recognise the commitments from our Customer Charter and understand how we are delivering on these promises with a view for open feedback from residents to drive better service delivery. 

What can others learn from your experience?

Adopting Together with Tenants gives housing associations the opportunity to review their commitments made to provide the best possible service for residents.

It also helps landlords to measure performance and guarantee residents are at the core of how we operate. Adopting Together with Tenants is a valuable opportunity for housing associations to drive cultural change and help strengthen relationships with residents in the long term.

Learn more about Together with Tenants

Who to speak to

Evelyn Williams, Policy Officer