4 assignments down, 2 to go! (April 2013)

So I’ve just completed the second module of my current CIH course (only one module left!), and I thought I’d share some of my key learning points from this module: Housing and customer relationship management

The first assignment for this module covered the importance of marketing, social marketing, customer relationship management and customer insight to social housing organisations. I learnt a lot from this module, in particular that marketing is more than just advertising!

The Chartered Institute of Marketing give this definition:

“Marketing is a management process of identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements efficiently and profitably”

As public sector organisations traditionally make surpluses rather than profits, Procter (2007) suggests replacing ‘profitability’ in the above definition with ‘to facilitate the achievement of the organisation’s objectives’

Marketing therefore is definitely more than just advertising, it is a framework for understanding who the customer is, their wants and needs and how best an organisation can efficiently deliver products and services to meet these.

There are various types and methods of marketing; social marketing is a relatively recently developed type, which is defined by the National Social Marketing Centre as:

“an approach used to develop activities aimed at changing or maintaining people’s behaviour for the benefit of individuals and society as a whole”

Check out MINDSPACE and the nudge unit for more on this

The module also looked at the importance of customer relationship management and customer insight in delivering services efficiently to the people most in need

CRM is described as:

“the use of a wide range of marketing, sales and communication, service and customer care approaches to:

  • identify a company’s named individual customers;
  • create a relationship between the company and its customers that stretches over many transactions;
  • manage that relationship to the benefit of the customers and the company”

It is important that the social housing sector embrace CRM and customer insight, and does not fall into a trap of taking its customers for granted, because they lack the choice between service providers and are therefore ‘loyal’ to their provider because of this; the potential benefits of embracing CRM and customer insight are greater satisfaction, value for money, more cohesive communities, more focused services and greater efficiency.

The second assignment for this module looked at change management:

Change is constant and can bring with it great opportunities, but also threats. So it is important that FHL regularly considers the ongoing changes to its operating environment, and uses this information to guide strategic decision making.

A simple and widely used tool that can be used to analyse the external macro-environment that an organisation operates within is a PEST Analysis

To undertake a PEST Analysis, organisations effectively audit their operating environment in terms of 4 key areas:

  • Political
  • Economic
  • Sociological
  • Technological

It’s essential to consider these changes in terms of the opportunities and threats they present to the organisation and its customers, and for the organisation to act on the findings of the analysis.

The table below shows my thoughts on what are the key political, economic, sociological and environmental factors affecting the social housing sector currently and in the near future, and their associated opportunities and threats for both the organisation and the customer.

Factor Opportunity Threat
P

O

L

I

T

I

C

A

L

 

Localism Act 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welfare Reform Act 2012

 

 

 

Light touch regulation by Homes & Communities Agency

 

 

 

Public spending and deficit reduction

 

 

 

 

 

Coalition government

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015 national election

 

 

 

Reduction in capital grant for house building

More decision-making powers at a local level regarding house building and priority for social housing

 

Increased employment in the local community

 

Less red tape around organisation’s operations and decision-making

 

Innovative solutions to reduced funding, services to customers are maintained

 

 

Broader representation on housing issues

 

 

 

 

To influence housing policy of incoming government

 

Innovative solutions to funding house building

Possible conflicts with residents and community groups due to their new powers

 

 

Customers income reduced, rent arrears likely to increase

 

Quality of service to customer declines

 

 

 

 

Reduced services and financial problems for organisations and customer

 

 

Conflicting political ideologies can lead to indecision / fundamental change to campaign promises

 

Housing policy of incoming government

 

Housebuilding declines, customers in housing need increases

E

C

O

N

O

M

I

C

 

Triple dip recession

 

 

 

Low interest rates

 

 

 

 

High unemployment

 

 

 

Low credit availability

 

 

 

Increasing cost of living /

reducing disposable incomes

Government provide funding opportunities

 

 

Mortgages remain affordable, house sales continue

 

 

Funding available for employment and training schemes

 

Develop Credit Unions and other social enterprises

 

Expand advice services re budgeting, income maximisation

Government further cuts spending and increases tax

 

Increase in repossessions and housing need when rates rise

 

Customers income reduced, rent arrears likely to rise

 

Increase in customer use of costly pay day loans

 

Customers income reduced, rent arrears likely to rise

 

S

O

C

I

O

L

O

G

I

C

A

L

 

Ageing population

 

 

 

 

Public and media attitude towards benefit recipients

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Population’s housing aspirations

To provide tailored services to remain competitive

 

 

To challenge stereotypes with real life stories, public and media then challenge government rhetoric and policies on welfare reform

 

To provide tailored services to remain competitive

Unable to meet customer demand, customers seek alternative provider

 

Public accept government rhetoric and harsh welfare reforms continue, affecting customers

 

 

 

 

Services become outdated, customers move to competitor

T

E

C

N

O

L

O

G

I

C

A

L

 

Social media

 

 

 

 

 

Digital by default government

 

 

 

 

 

24/7, self-service society

 

 

 

 

 

Building new homes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Energy efficiency

Modern, cost-effective communication with customers, remain competitive

 

Support customers to go digital, deliver more services digitally

 

 

 

Increase self-service opportunities for customers, available 24/7, reduce staff overheads

 

To build homes quicker and cheaper, customer housing needs met

 

 

 

 

To improve energy efficiency of homes and reduce customers utility bills

Communication becomes outdated, customers dissatisfied

 

 

Customers without skills or finances to go digital may be unable to access services and apply for benefits

 

Change in culture for organisation away from traditional hours and methods of operation

 

Continue traditional building methods, which are slower and more expensive. Fewer new homes built, high housing need continues

 

Homes fail to meet required energy efficiency target, customers utility bills remain high and reduced disposable income to pay rent

The module gave me a lot of food for thought about how we develop services to meet known customer needs and wants, rather than just assumed ones or doing things because we think they’re a good idea, and also about how much teams consider what’s going on in the world around us and what we can do in response to that in the short, medium and long term future

Let me know your thoughts below J

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