Hello, and welcome to my Chief Exec’s blog for February 2023!
The New Year is well and truly underway, and following on from my blogs last year, I’m going to pick up where I left off and talk about how our Inspired by Our Communities approach continues to shape how we work here at Southway.
As a reminder, in 2020, we launched Inspired by Our Communities (IBC) to help us focus our work and improvements on the areas that are important to you. Our tenants, residents and customers have told us that the seven key areas are: Communication, Quality of Home, Quality of Life, Environment, Customer Access, Community Safety, and Inclusion & Individuality.
The end of 2022 was a challenging time for us, as we faced a perfect storm of higher-than-usual customer demand, severe freezing weather, and unforeseen issues with our new telephone system.
With that in mind, this month, I’d like to talk to you about Customer Access and what we’re doing to make it easier for you to access our services. That includes work on our telephone system and an update on our Repairs Service.
We know that long phone queues are a major frustration for busy customers, so we’ve been working on an upgrade to our telephone system. This will mean that soon, you will be offered the option of a call back, so that you get to speak to the right person without having to wait on the phone.
Unfortunately, when we launched the upgrade, several callers were cut off before their call was answered along with a few other teething problems. While we investigate, we have temporarily turned off the call-back function but plan to reintroduce it soon.
Making it as easy as possible for you to reach us is incredibly important to us, and it’s disappointing when we don’t always manage to meet expectations. I’m truly sorry for the inconvenience caused to those affected. We’re working hard to get to the bottom of the problems and get the system working well.
We’ve seen a huge increase in calls to our Customer Hub which has had an impact on waiting times. Please remember that you can also contact us via our website, on social media or the MySouthway portal, to leave your message and avoid waiting.
Delays to our Repairs Service
Like many organisations – particularly in the housing sector – our repairs service has been affected by an increase in customer demand and severe winter weather.
For a few weeks at the start of the year, this meant that we could not take requests for non-urgent work so that we could focus on higher-priority and emergency repairs.
Thankfully, from early February, we are now in a position where we’re able to accept non-urgent repairs again. There is still a backlog of work for certain trades. This means that, while we can book an appointment for you, it might not be as soon as you would like. Many will have appointments from March, but routine electrical, gas and plumbing appointments will only be available from April.
Thank you for your continued patience during this time. We’re doing everything we can to work through this issue and will keep you up to date on our progress. If you have a repair that you need to report, please visit our website, which is available 24/7, call us on 0161 448 4200, or contact us by private message on our social media channels.
This year, we’re launching a new Staff Training & Development Plan so that our staff all have the skills and knowledge they need to deliver good quality services and provide a consistent level of care and commitment to our customers.
In January, for instance, our Customer Hub, operational team, and surveyors all received specialised Damp, Mould & Condensation training. This will help our teams identify damp and mould, understand the impacts, and better diagnose the issue when it’s first reported.
As of 1st February, our Customer Hub is now closed from 12.15pm every Wednesday afternoon so that we can dedicate time to delivering training to our Customer Hub advisors. The aim is that they will be able to resolve a wide range of issues for you, the first time you call.
This includes diagnostic skills to advice on everything from bills, borrowing and debt to support with food, work and training, and anti-social behaviour. If you have an emergency, you can still contact our out-of-hours service on our usual phone number - 0161 448 4200 – and you’ll be able to speak to one of our advisors again from 8am on Thursday mornings.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, or thoughts about how we can improve this blog, please get in touch using the form below or email me at email@example.com. Your feedback is incredibly important to us, so – good or bad – my ears are always open!