Understanding Building Safety, Customer Engagement, and Resident Voice.

Anne-Marie Bancroft & Ben Kelly
Posted: 25th January 2022 Anne-Marie Bancroft and Ben Kelly, Principal Consultant and Technical Consultant

As organisations prepare for building safety changes arising from the Hackitt Review, they must also consider their approach to customer engagement and resident voice.

To do things right and meet the expected requirements of the new Building Safety Regulator, providers must approach resident voice in a meaningful way. They must consider whether residents are being given the power to have a say over the safety of their homes, whether communication strategies are effective, and if residents are aware of their rights and responsibilities. On top of this, organisations need to prove how effective their resident engagement techniques are to both the Building Safety Regulator and the Regulator of Social Housing.

Approaching resident engagement in this new regulatory environment is a challenge for providers. Substantial thought, time, and resource need to be given to resident voice. And there must be real consideration as to whether strategies are working or not. Organisations cannot rely on the goodwill of engaged customers and the pull of coffee and cakes alone to achieve the radical overhaul that the sector needs.

We need to raise the bar on resident voice and really question whether resident voice is having a real impact on service delivery, quality, and safety.

Procurement and Resident Voice

The sector has learnt a lot from the Grenfell fire tragedy. With any resident engagement endeavour, the key is to always question how future engagement will play a part in keeping homes safe. One of the most difficult challenges is how to effectively consider the resident voice as early as the procurement stage. Embedding resident voice into procurement strategies must be the starting point for organisations. This underpins the approach to effective contract management, communicating with residents, and access to recourse through good quality complaints services.

Residents will help by raising Alarm Bells

Residents are the best people to tell providers when things are going wrong, and raise concerns of safety and poor practice. Understanding the resident experience, listening and learning from feedback, helps organisations to feel confident that the homes they provide are safe. Complaints procedures should be built around effective resolution of concerns, and the principles of fairness, respect and listening. Additionally, applying the learning from complaints, and communicating its impact back to residents is vital to ensure residents feel heard. Organisations will fall foul of meeting Building Safety regulation if they neglect to build a strong approach to listening to the resident voice alongside meeting the essential technical requirements.

Communication is key

Organisations need to consider how they create ways for their residents to access information about the safety of their homes. It is important to champion accessible methods. In addition, they must reflect on how their residents access information from them about the safety of their homes. Organisations should also consider how they layer information and create easy pathways for residents to access more detailed information if they choose to.

Knowing your residents

Organisations need to put their energies into ensuring they really know their residents beyond those who can self-evacuate and those who cannot. It’s critical they understand resident communication preferences and engagement preferences, and apply this to resident engagement strategies. Adapting communication mechanisms based on this knowledge creates a stronger, more effective resident engagement strategy.

Review your approach to resident voice

Without a doubt the changes in the regulatory environment present challenges for providers. A journey to effective, meaningful and outcome focussed engagement can take time and resource. And planning this journey in line with meeting the anticipated requirements of regulators can be complex. It is imperative to review the approach to customer voice and customer engagement to meet the requirements of both the Building Safety Regulator and the Regulator of Social Housing sooner rather than later.

 

Written by Anne-Marie Bancroft, Principal Consultant and lead on Customer Engagement.

 

With support from Ben Kelly, Technical Consultant and key contact for Building Safety.

 

Anne-Marie Bancroft & Ben Kelly

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