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Why the housing sector needs to up its game in customer service

Why the housing sector needs to up its game in customer service to help bolster the UK economy

I’m often asked, does customer satisfaction really influence and shape what an organisation delivers and how important is it in housing, when we're already providing someone with a place to call home? My answer is always that it's vital.

Customer service across all industries is extremely important. 76% of the UK GDP is delivered through service-based organisations so the competitiveness of the UK in the world is dependent on a strong service-based economy. Our ability as a country to innovate and create new jobs so our economy can thrive, relies on our reputation and excellence in delivering a high-quality service in every organisation, whether they’re private, public or not-for-profit.

Despite it being so vital for our economy, the UK CSI (Customer Satisfaction Index) has found customer satisfaction has dropped to 77% over the last two years across all sectors. The businesses that have bucked this trend and sustained a higher level of satisfaction enjoy a higher share price or market value – which is no coincidence. This proves the link between really great service and organisational profitability are directly linked.

Of course, there are other factors in play. Transparency and trust have become far more important to customers over the last few years, alongside the changing expectations of the speed of response, direct access to self-service, and an expectation you are there when the customer needs you in a “always on” world. Organisations that traditionally offer the lowest price and super convenience may not score as highly now - especially when ethics and the environment play a larger role in consumers decision making.

The expected change in demographics and the move to smart cities (enabled by 5G) will no doubt continue to change the landscape of what customers want, expect and what becomes the new standard.

So, why is this important for those of us who work in the housing sector?

At sector level, we make up a large part of the service industry. We play an increasingly important role in providing more affordable homes across a range of tenures. Our reputation for how we deliver our service plays a part in how customers choose their next home. Our costs are directly impacted on how well or poorly we deliver the core services – poor service always costs more, and this stops us investing in better services and in building more homes.

As every single person in the UK relies on good quality housing, irrespective of tenure, we also have a huge impact on our customers lives if we get it wrong, both emotionally and physically. As an industry we are doing well, but there is always room to do better, and we should be better. Not only to help boost our economy in these unpredictable times, but also because we provide homes to be sanctuaries, a place where our customers can feel safe and secure. This is why we should strive to deliver the core services brilliantly, not just because our customers demand it but because this is what we would expect in the place we call home.

Our costs are directly impacted on how well or poorly we deliver the core services – poor service always costs more, and this stops us investing in better services and in building more homes.

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