19 January 2020

Having attended Customer Experience in Housing early last year, I left with loads of ideas as to how I could apply what I'd learnt in my role at Coastline.

The event was valuable to attend, as it was a great opportunity to network and share ideas, not just with colleagues in the housing sector but also with those in private business, which gave a different perspective. There was real variety on offer, as the day consisted of panel discussions, presentations and workshops. A customer who also happens to be a Non-Executive Director at Coastline accompanied me. She was able to compare the good practice shared at the event with our own Customer First strategy.

An area that stood out for me in particular was a workshop where Guinness presented their new way of agile working. We learnt that your approach always needs to be customer-led, adaptable to change yet have a strong focus on performance. While we haven't followed, this path was a real opportunity to think about delivery in a very different and flexible way. Another was a presentation from North Star on how their culture and environment had influenced service delivery. There was a fantastic technology video, which showed how quickly life had evolved and inspired us for what's to come in the future.

It was a fabulous experience, hearing about good and bad customer service, customer expectations and developments in technology alongside new ways of working and service delivery. The opportunity to have a clear headspace, listen to others and look for ways to improve was a great way to kickstart 2019. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I immediately arranged to attend Customer Experience 2020.

On our journey back to Cornwall we discussed new ideas, what could work at our organisation and what our customers would support. The event was very timely, as we had recently started on our own transformation journey.

Back in the office, I shared my enthusiasm and renewed energy with my team, staff and customers and we made a plan for improvements to enhance our customer journey. We are now two years into the delivery of the strategy. There have been highs and lows but overall our customer satisfaction is good. Our customer portal has launched and numbers signed up and using it continue to grow at a steady rate.

Sometimes it's difficult to make the time to travel and get to events but I'd recommend this one whatever your role. I anticipate this year being even better!

Louise Beard

Louise is Director of Housing, Assets and Communities at Coastline Housing.

Louise joined Coastline in November 2007 with a demonstrable track record of strategic leadership at senior executive level within the housing, care and support sector, and a genuine belief in social housing and improving quality of life.

She has executive responsibility for the strategic vision and direction of all housing, technical, homeless, care and support services within the group.

Louise is the responsible individual and a Board Director for Coastline Care Ltd, successful in achieving CQC registration and a fully compliant report in July 2012.

What can you expect from Customer Experience in Housing?