- Elimination of the appeal process has saved time to the equivalent of over £75,000 for the year when comparing 2015/16 to 2016/17
- A more resolution-focused process and a clearer framework for compensation has resulted in compensation paid out reducing by over £70,000 – an average cost saving of 46%
- Clearer roles and responsibilities have led to time savings of at least £3,000 per year and a further £320 per complaint.
East Thames Group (ETG) is a housing association responsible for 14,000 homes across East London and Essex. In late 2015 they embarked on an ambitious organisation-wide programme, which included improving processes. They engaged with us to run a proof of concept to assess if the Lean approach should be adopted across the programme.
With significant reductions in income due as a result of changes in national housing and welfare policies, ETG began looking for smarter and more efficient ways of working. They coordinated actions to achieve the changes they needed by developing an organisation-wide transformation programme. After identifying Lean as an approach to provide customers more with less, a key component of their transformation, the group engaged with us. A pilot Lean review of the complaints handling process was selected to trial the approach as a way of increasing effectiveness and efficiency and to create buy-in through engaging staff.
We split the pilot into three distinct phases:
Key issues uncovered included a lack of a standard approach to applying process and policy, sub-standard outputs and a lack of a robust structure focusing on resolution rather than meeting targets set by the organisation.
An improved standard process that shifted focus to finding a resolution and then agreeing and monitoring application of this was introduced. This meant expensive appeal panel hearings could be removed. The level of contact having to be agreed with the customer was introduced and frontline staff were given more authority to resolve issues at source.
A clear action plan to implement the new process was developed and an Information Centre setup for the whole organisation to better monitor complaints performance.
In addition to the significant financial returns for a relatively small process, the improvements led to complaints being resolved and being done so more quickly. The number of days a complaint was open reduced from 19 days to 8.6 days, a 55% decrease. In parallel the quality of outputs and engaging customers to agree a resolution also saw customer satisfaction jump from 27% to 61%. Surveys established that 79% of complainants agreed the response to their complaint was clear and complete. Internally it means staff, at the frontline and more senior, are now more confident and better equipped to deal with service failures.