Products and services which customers are prepared to pay for, and which stakeholders want, are at the core of enabling providers to take ownership of their collective and individual reputations.
For RPs, understanding the connection between investment in services and products, and reputation has been patchy at best. Some have been productive and dynamic, resulting in strong relationships. Others have virtually disregarded the issue, hoping that support from customers and stakeholders will be forthcoming as and when needed.
The NHF’s “Owning our Future” research covers the general public as well as institutional stakeholders. Last time the NHF developed a sector wide, cultural influencing strategy – remember “inBusiness for Neighbourhoods”? – the focus was very much on the political decision-makers. It used concepts and language with which the sector was comfortable, but which carried little of weight with those audiences. The views of the public were co-opted, through residents, to support the overall approach.
In 2016 we face a very different set of strategic and operational challenges. The operating context is testing the most fundamental tenets of what RPs are for, what they produce, which services they provide, at what cost and for whom. Each one is positioning itself – consciously or not – for a far less certain future. Simultaneously, those with whom we work most closely are also under intense pressure.
It’s a good idea to start thinking from the bottom up. The reputations of individual RPs contribute incrementally to the overall perception of the sector.
Ensuring an independent, candid and honest appraisal of the health of existing relationships, products and services is the place to start. This provides clarity about the current position, and a benchmark against which to measure progress. Knowledge about what services customers and stakeholders want, and what they are prepared to pay for or resource in other ways, is essential.
Understanding your stakeholders’ individual and collective perceptions of your enterprise, their ambitions, strategies and concerns (and what they would value from you) provides a map of overlaps, paradoxes and contradictions; and how these relate (positively or otherwise) to your desired objectives.
Having the courage to develop the results into a coherent strategy which works for you – and weaving them in to your overall planning, budgeting and accountability – opens new windows of appreciation and opportunity.
Using a methodology adapted for your organisation to guide this process allows a focus on the outcomes to drive stakeholder and customer perceptions in a direction which is relevant, positive and productive for all concerned.
If this rings bells for you, and you would like an informal discussion contact Patrick on 07850 914229 | firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patrick Harkness is an Associate Director of Altair and has advised many leading Registered Providers, lenders, acute and community health services, professional services providers, charities, quangos and developers on customer expectations and stakeholder perception management. He has advised Providers across the English regions, and all 4 devolved jurisdictions.