With you for your journey…
Paul Dolan, Chief Executive
Following on from my last blog on 2 March, I am pleased to provide a further update on our progress. I’ve promised to keep my update short - and I will - but I’ve also provided more detail, for those of you who want it.
For this update, I’d particularly like to highlight the appointments Claire has made to her new structure. I’m really pleased to see the progress being made on our customers’ journeys and I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of the structure emerging. I was also delighted to hear about some of the feedback we’ve received from the recent values workshops, hosted by Gail Shadlock, Irene Southern and Rebecca Grant. All these are currently being collated and we’ll be presenting the findings to the executive meeting in May.
I also wanted to mention the conclusion of our governance review, which has been a really important piece of work that you may not be aware of, making sure we have the right structure in place to deliver our vision. The scope included treasury, audit & risk, customer experience and our various committees. There are going to be some significant changes which the Accent Board will discuss and approve at its May meeting. More detail to follow on that later.
From the more detailed update, you’ll see there’s lots going on. The commitment and dedication from everyone involved continues to inspire me – and I think we are really on the road to delivering a fantastic customer experience.
I hope you will find my latest update of interest – we have had a number of likes and comments in response to my last blogs and our new 90-second updates, so if you can spare a few minutes of your busy schedule to read it, you might find it really useful. It would also be great to hear any of your thoughts, ideas or views by completing the feedback form below which goes straight to Gail Shadlock.
Let’s remind ourselves WHY we are doing all this…
- Customer Service Offer: Staff briefings have gone well with great contributions received. A consultation programme will now see a selection of customers receiving a survey, (which we are likely to follow up with a customer consultation event over the next 2-3 months). We want to become recognised for delivering an excellent, proactive and predictive service in which we provide more customisation opportunities for self-service and encourage more use of our contact centre. We need to be sure this matches what our customers want. This will release more resource for investment in our service offer.
- Customer Service/Experience Structure: Good progress! Rachael Walsh is our new Director of Insight & Strategy and Shaun Finegan is our new Director of Customer Experience for the North. Congratulations both. Last week, we interviewed for the three customer experience managers in the north and have appointed external candidate Amanda Oakley in the North East, Irene Southern in the North West and John Place in Yorkshire. Over 100 people applied for the roles. Amanda joins us from Home Housing Association with a wealth of experience in housing and related services. Congratulations to John and Irene.
Our Existing Homes
- The Asset Management Strategy was due to go to the Accent Board in March, but it was purposefully delayed to respond to some key strategic questions which emerged during its development. We need to spend more time on ‘getting it right’ and putting measures in place to ensure the outcomes can be delivered. The draft strategy will be considered by the executive team in April with a view to it being presented to the Accent Board in May.
- Using the Asset Performance Evaluation tool (APE), which will aid and facilitate future stock appraisals, the asset management team is starting to assess which schemes need to be ‘options appraised’ due to poor or marginal performance. The team will engage with operational teams to discuss the specifics of any options appraisal.
- RAMP contracts update: RAMP contracts update: Progress continues to be made (although there is still an element of mixed performance across the contractors). In March, customer satisfaction for repairs and maintenance reached 86% - its highest level to date. The target is 95%. The service performance committee will receive a detailed report on 20 April) which will be available on request.
Our New Homes
- Development: The development team have been focussing on year end completions. The development strategy has now been approved and it will be rolled out in the coming months. Some exciting pipeline opportunities are being explored across each of our regions. A new senior project manager (Bev Hill) has been appointed to the team to deliver the programme. Congratulations Bev.
- 'Values' Workshops: A series of workshops have engaged everyone in creating a set of Values which reflect the ‘Accent’ we want to be. Some really great suggestions were received. The next steps are to collate all these and draw up a new set of values’ to encompass the Accent of the future. This work should be finished by May.
- Shape the Journey: The feedback to this has been brilliant! There have been 18 suggestions and so far a total £14,000 has been allocated to them. One suggested a trial be conducted to offer an incentive (a cash sum or an asset improvement) to residents who are thinking of leaving us. This should give us a bit more time to understand why residents leave and to reduce termination costs. Interestingly, a lot of suggestions could ‘just be done’ i.e. they are really ‘business as usual’ (like replacing a wheelie bin or benches). That these have come via ‘Shape the Journey’, suggests that, culturally, some teams are less inclined to empower people. This is being picked up as suggestions arise with the relevant manager to enable that action locally. Gail Shadlock is also picking this up with the Accent Leadership Team.
If you haven’t seen the video yet – see it here – it is definitely worth a watch. The ONLY condition is that you have to demonstrate and share any lessons learned. The fund is disappearing, so speak out soon if you have any suggestions.
- Staff Group/Employee Engagement: The executive team has agreed to the setting up of an employee representative forum. Existing staff group reps are meeting to discuss this at their next meeting on 25 April.
- Governance review: the Accent Board received terms of reference for the new Governance structure in March. This included reference to treasury, audit & risk, remuneration and nomination, customer experience and capital investment committees. The changes will align how we govern Accent to our new corporate strategy objectives.
- Intelligent Security Management: (security over the money we are borrowing for our homes - like having a mortgage and funders being reassured we are good for it!) This project will ensure we maximise the amount of money we can borrow to build new homes. Following the tendering exercise we have appointed property lawyers Wright Hassall to deliver this work over the next 12 months.
- Treasury strategy: We have started discussions with our treasury advisors (Centrus) to ascertain the best and most efficient way of raising the intended finance to enable us to build new homes and deliver our asset management strategy. Meetings with our funders have been really positive and highly supportive of our corporate strategy.
- New funding: following approval of the treasury strategy, initial meetings were held with existing funders to explore options for additional borrowing. Funders were impressed by our financial strength, how well we run our business and our ambitious plans for the future. Meetings with potential new funders are also planned.
- Health and Safety: Congratulations to Accent Board member Maggie Punyer, our new health & safety champion. Maggie will chair the working group.
And IN SUPPORT OF THESE WORK STREAMS….
Digital Transformation Programme
- Steve Dungworth is our new Director of Digital Transformation from April. Congratulations Steve!
- Accent Connect Launch: Following the successful go-live of Connect, there have been a few issues, some of which (with the Beast from the East) impacted on the contact centre’s performance. The supplier appears to have resolved the main problems, and we are now looking to make some system enhancements. Unlike ActiveH, we do not have our own support team so we have less control over issues or development. We rely on our suppliers to deal with our issues quickly and transparently.
- Self Service Website: Our plan is still to ‘go live’ in May/June. Irene Southern and Rebecca Grant have been ‘on tour’ demonstrating the key functionality of the Let’s Move fabulous new tool.
- Compliance: All work in relation to fire risk and health and safety is nearly done. As the compliance solution for this work stream relies on collecting photographic evidence, we continue to try to resolve the tricky issue of getting photographs uploaded quickly and easily. The next phase is to tackle fire safety equipment and electrical safety software to produce PET (periodic electrical testing) certificates.
- GDPR: we will be well prepared for the new regulations on 25 May. GDPR, which, is becoming more influential on both our work and private lives, has been covered in some interesting articles by Steve Craison on KIM. Look out for Steve Dungworth’s views about Facebook in the next edition of ‘In the Loop’ – coming soon.
- Green Cards: following feedback from a number of staff the ‘green card’ process is currently under review. Going forward we will focus on the changes which have a major impact on performance and compliance and establish an ‘user forum’ – a collaborative group to influence priorities. We will also publish a ‘change schedule’ on KIM so people can see progress at a glance and aim for new changes to be turned around in 6-8 weeks (or explain why the change cannot be completed). In what should come as a relief to everyone, we will remove bureaucratic ‘form filling!’
Communications; Brand; Marketing; PR
- Corporate Strategy Launch 6 March 2018: The film 'So Far' premiered on 6 March and the feedback overall was fantastic. Four new episodes have been filmed which will be released in the coming months. You will be able to watch them, on our dedicated micro-site: www.so-far.co.uk. We’d love you to share them with colleagues and customers. A specific e-bulletin is being produced to showcase the journey 'So Far' and to share our new corporate strategy with relevant partners and interested parties. If anyone has a contact they would like to add to this list, contact Rachael Walsh by the end of the week.
- Tailored Customer Communication: (also known internally as 'segmentation') Once the new customer offer is agreed, we will assess the best way to ‘tailor’ our messages to meet their needs. The most important thing is to ensure customers get the ‘RIGHT message at the ‘RIGHT time’ and in a format that suits each person. Look out for further progress updates.
- A second issue of In the Loop the staff update is due to be circulated.
As you can see there is a significant amount of work happening right across Accent. I would like to thank you for your continued commitment to raising the standards in all aspects of our work.