Thrive’s Customer Experience Panel is going from strength to strength

Andy Sage, Chair of Thrive’s Customer Experience Panel (CEP) is introducing a series of blogs. We want to provide an insight into the CEP and its role as a critical friend to Thrive.

The building blocks that have been laid in past years means that CEP is growing in influence and is having more impact than ever before. Increasing the relationship between CEP, Thrive’s colleagues, management and the Board is leading to positive outcomes for customers. There is still much work to be done but we are heading in the right direction.

Here’s how we do things…

The CEP meet formally on a quarterly basis with Thrive’s Operations Director and Assistant Director of Customer along with other colleagues who represent various areas of the business. The quarterly meetings are also attended by two Board members who input the Board’s perspective and informally feedback. This is a two-way relationship with the CEP Chair reporting directly to the Board twice a year.

About us and our work…

The Panel carries out a lot of work in the form of workshops and other events in-between meetings. We strive to ensure that all customer survey, feedback, complaint and performance mechanisms are working as intended and accurately capture the true customer experience, which is then used to improve services.

There are three key parts to the Panel’s role, to:

1) Act as a critical friend and bridge between you – the customer – and Thrive’s Board.

2) Check Thrive is complying with the Regulator for Social Housing Consumer Standards and provide assurance to the Board.

3) Listen to the voice of customers and input this perspective into strategic plans, policy reviews, quality assurance and jointly review Thrive’s performance through a dashboard of customer centric measures with the Service Shapers Group.     

The strength in our relationship with Thrive   

The CEP has the power to request information and can commission independent pieces of work if deemed necessary.

Our panel members bring the real-life experiences of being Thrive Homes customers to the table. We are free to act as “critical friends” and openly question policies or procedures that we believe are not addressing customer needs, making suggestions for improvements based on our first-hand experiences.

An example of this in action is when the Panel reviews Thrive’s compliance against the Government’s Consumer Standards. The CEP first considers a self-assessment completed by Thrive colleagues and then we attend a workshop to assess each standard. After the workshops we ask follow-up questions and request additional evidence, then report our findings to the Board.   

Over time the CEP has become more influential and is consistently involved in strategic and financial issues. As you can imagine the Panel has a busy and growing workload.

Each of the panel members has taken on a Customer Champion Role for different parts of the business to manage the workload. The role of the Champions are to develop expertise in their topic areas to ensure they receive the right level of attention and then brief the rest of the Panel on issues that need broader consideration.    

The current Champions are listed below:  

  • Communications (annual report and customer communications) Denise Gumustekin and Alan Banton
  • Complaints – Geoff Fellows
  • Compliance and Assurance – Andy Sage
  • Digital (services and new portal) – Alan Banton and Denise Gumustekin
  • Equalities and Diversity – Joan Fernando
  • Feedback and Metrics – Andy Sage
  • Involvement – Andy Sage
  • Procurement and Value for Money – vacant.

The good news is that CEP has recently strengthened the Panel through recruiting four new high calibre members as part of an open recruitment process. This will give the Panel more capacity by bringing in more skills and experiences and will provide the chance to share out the workload and reallocate and develop the Champion Roles.

This is a very exciting time for the Panel and we would like to welcome our new members – Martin, Eni, Alison and Richard – to the team.

We have recently held our first virtual meeting to comply with the guidelines in light of the coronavirus outbreak and will shortly be undertaking online induction training.

When we’re able to find our ‘new normal’, the Panel will attend team building training so that the whole team can hit the ground running to complete a demanding workplan and make sure customer feedback and insight is used to improve the customer experience.

New member and Thrive tenant Martin Brooks is keen to get to work, and sums up the effectiveness of the CEP:

Our CEP members come from all walks of life, have experience living in or owning a Thrive property and all have a desire to make sure that the voices of their fellow tenants are not only heard, but listened to by their landlord.”

You can learn a little more about each of our members by reading their short biographies found here.

Day by day we are strengthening the CEP and making sure Thrive continues to deliver a fair deal. Our next blog in August will cover our recently revised Involvement Statement and the CEP’s plans for the future.

If you have any feedback or an idea you’d like to bring forward, please get in touch with us by emailing getinvolved@thrivehomes.org.uk. We always look forward to hearing from you.