A new report from the Housing Ombudsman says that addressing damp and mould needs to be a higher priority for landlords, with a change in culture from reactive to proactive needed to improve how landlords listen and respond to customers.

Spotlight on: Damp and Mould‘ explicitly calls for a strategic approach informed by ‘intelligence, data and complaints’ (pg 2) and the need for effective diagnosis based on accurate, reliable data. This echoes the front and centre message of data integrity in the Regulator of Social Housing ‘s latest Sector Risk Profile and  The Scottish Housing Regulator’s sector risk profile will be issued later this month but is likely to include reference to risks like cyberattacks and good asset planning due to supply chain problems being experienced for labour and supplies.

Better use of data – what does this mean for social landlords?

The key messages about the need for data-driven evidence and the importance of data accuracy are clear. Within an increasingly complex operating environment including building safety, decarbonisation and ambitious new supply targets, understanding your asset base and combining this insight, with your operational performance, to inform decision making will be vital.

On a more human level, using data effectively can also help to build an empathetic approach that puts customers at the centre of service delivery. The data that social landlords collect and use every day are not just numbers but represent the lived experiences of your customers and they hold the key to putting them at the heart of how you operate. So, how can you use data-driven diagnostics to embed a person-centred approach?

Listen to your customers and act on what they are telling you

As the sector awaits details of new tenant satisfaction metrics, the message from the regulator remains clear: do the right thing and do not wait for regulation. At Housemark, we have seen our customers move to more frequent perception surveys and can help you to measure your satisfaction to understand what matters most to your customers and to receive actionable insights. Multichannel customer services delivery allows landlords to incorporate vital transactional feedback in real-time, meaning you can diagnose points of service failure more effectively and act on problems promptly.

Avoid data silos

Siloed data, including manual or static sources, can mean missed opportunities to understand what is driving poor performance or dissatisfaction. Bringing your data sources together will not only provide the holistic view you need to really get to the bottom of performance drivers but will also help to build a data-driven culture through a shared understanding of performance.

Take a data deep-dive to pinpoint where you need to prioritise action

Key performance indicators can show you where there’s a problem, gut instinct can guide you towards the causes of an issue … but a data deep dive can pinpoint unexpected root causes of an issue so that you can do more than manage the symptoms. Combining our unrivalled access to housing data, ‘of the moment’ context and extensive sector knowledge, a Housemark data deep-dive helps you to quantify the problem and delivers the data-driven evidence base you need to make the case for change.

Get your data strategy right

Landlords recognise the need for a data-driven culture to be created and embedded, and that this requires building an enthusiasm for data and removing processes which do not add value. Embarking on the development of a data strategy arises from this wish to become data mature and to harness data better, as well as wanting to have more assurance with the data for regulatory purposes, and overcoming the feeling that data quality issues create risk. The right data strategy will help to tackle time wasted because of poor data, and it is essential to use the strategy development to reveal the role of data in building trust and delivering transformative outcomes for your business and your customers.

Use effective performance reporting frameworks to track how you are making a difference to your customers’ lives

Performance reporting should align to your corporate strategy, strategic risks and the wider policy context to increase impact and deliver improvements that make a difference. Housemark works with customers to provide confidence in their performance reporting, embedding a genuine culture of performance management throughout the organisation, including governance, scorecards, clear definitions, reporting tools, and providing colleagues with the skills and confidence to interrogate and trust the data.

Our expert partners are here to provide support to boost your in-house capabilities. By presenting data with clarity, we’ll show you what the numbers mean to your customers, your people, and your business. To find out more about how we can help you with your data strategy, contact info@housemark.co.uk.

Stephanie Lacey – Data Consultancy Lead

Stephanie has over 20 years of experience in the housing and community sectors, including working in housing management, homelessness, policy and research, strategy development, and measurement frameworks. She has worked for housing associations and councils in the UK and abroad, and she has also worked in academic settings and as a freelance research consultant.