Presentations from Amanda Harris (Hastoe Housing Group), Tom Redknap (Adactus), Lourdes Sharpe (WM Housing Group), Barry Marlow (Marlow Lang Limited) and Tony Smith (Acutance Consulting), offered their knowledge on implementing excellence in customer service, mobile technology and connecting with today’s customer.
Copenhagen based housing association, Glostrup Boligselskab, also offered insights into tenant democracy on social housing in Denmark and their use of digital services.
Peter Graddon, Director of customer solutions provider Omfax Systems, said: “Our annual conference provides a great meeting place for social housing providers trying to adjust to major changes in customer expectations. Reforms to the existing welfare system are putting increasing financial pressure on tenants, whilst the 1% rent cut is forcing housing providers to look for efficiency savings without compromising service. In rapid times of change like this, getting the customer experience right and upholding customer service is crucial for the industry.”
“One key area we focused on at the conference,” he said, “was the new generation of customers and the change in expectations from digital natives who have grown up in a digital world, as well as from digital converts. We also concluded that the social housing product has stayed the same but the market and its customer is changing and housing associations need to respond to this change through effective ways of communication to reach their varied customers. As Barry Marlow illustrated, Lucozade used to be drunk only if you were poorly; now it is drunk when you go to the gym – but it’s the same product, different customers. Social housing is still seen as something just for if you are ‘poor’ or ‘in need’. But the market place has changed and so have customers, and the product and services need to change accordingly.”
Claus Bech-Hansen, Development Consultant at Glostrup Housing Association, said: “Social housing has less of a stigma in Denmark and is generally regarded as being available to all. The Danish model is strong and works well but it is based on tradition and has been built up over many years.”
Omfax’s Annual User Conference took place at Ardencote Manor Hotel, Warwickshire. For more details visit: www.omfax.co.uk