How does the Board ensure the ‘true’ voice of the customer is heard?

joanne_morganGovernance reviews are core business for us. Not just for traditional housing associations, but also for ALMOs, LSVTs and an increasing number of local authority wholly owned subsidiaries.  

A number of key themes have emerged from our work over the past six months, which closely align to the findings of our research published earlier this year: LSVT Governance that is fit for the future. These include:-

  • simpler and more agile governance structures;
  • more ‘commercial’ and smaller boards;
  • skills based rather than constituency based selection focus;
  • different ways of engaging with local authorities; and
  • customer engagement – a different model.

One of the challenges is undoubtedly customer engagement as boards look to reduce the number of retained places specifically for constituent members.

The sector recognises the need for a different customer engagement model – but what does this look like and what does it need to deliver?  Do customers want to be involved, and if so how?  These questions are being asked up and down the country and there are varying views on customers’ future involvement within the governance framework of social landlords.

What is clear is that organisations are adopting 21st century communications and social media models for greater sophistication in their understanding of customer requirements and behaviour, but the challenge remains for boards – how do they ensure the ‘true’ voice of the customer is heard?

While it is generally agreed that it is fundamental that the ‘voice’ for both existing and potential customers is heard to ensure that the strategic direction and the shaping of service delivery can reflect customer needs appropriately, the how it is achieved still seems unclear.  We have come across examples of stronger links between boards and tenant forums, and performance and scrutiny panels and board’s being supported by customer groups. But is this enough, should we be looking outside the sector? John Lewis, Tesco, Amazon to name but a few.

There is no standard model as the approach needs to reflect an individual organisation’s requirements, but where new models have been adopted we’d like to hear your success stories and challenges you have faced as part of our continued research into this area.

Please email or to arrange an informal chat.