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Yarlington’s Customer Charter: Our promise to customers

Andy Skarzynski, Executive Director of People, Information and Culture explains why Yarlington launched its Customer Charter

At Yarlington, the customer is at the heart of everything we do. We’re committed to delivering great homes, services and opportunities that meet our customers’ needs and to work with them to make improvements. To do all of this, the customer experience must be consistent, our staff need to be accountable and our customers need to have a say.

That’s why we launched the Customer Charter.

The Customer Charter aims to strengthen our relationship with our customers by setting out 13 pledges that identify the level of service and experience customers can expect from us and ensure we’re held to account if we don’t get things right.

The tragedy of Grenfell Tower and the Social Housing Green Paper both identified vast differences in customer experience, services and relationships across the sector and within housing associations themselves. By adopting a Customer Charter we don’t just ensure our services remain high quality but openly commit to delivering the same experience and opportunities to all customers.

Truly keeping customers at the heart, we didn’t just launch a charter. In October 2018 we consulted with our customers, asking them to provide feedback on a draft version of our charter to ensure it was in line with their expectations, their priorities and that it was seen to be fair.

Earlier this year the National Housing Federation (NHF) published their Together with Tenants plan which seeks to provide a more open, consistent and regulated approach to housing association customers. Part of this plan includes a sector-wide customer charter.

Yarlington’s Customer Charter goes beyond the NHF’s, expanding on its pledges to be specific about our services to ensure we are as open and transparent as possible and our customers know exactly what to expect from us.

The NHF’s draft charter helped ensure our commitments were aligned with the rest of the sectors’ and as an early adopter, we will continue to work closely with the NHF to deliver sector-wide consistency of customer experience and help provide insight into the development and delivery of our charter.

At Yarlington, opportunities for customers to reach their potential and channels to influence the way we work are just as important as the building of homes, their standard and the quality of services we provide. That’s why Yarlington’s charter covers all aspects of customer experience, including the values we work by and the commitment to offer channels and opportunities.

So how will we know if we’re delivering on our promises?

We have put robust measures in place to actively check that we are delivering and to remain open and honest about our performance with customers. These measurements will be recorded through performance indicators on services such as emergency repairs, complaint handling and value for money. We’ll also be able track our progress through our annual surveys, intelligence dashboards and Board reports.

As we deliver on our commitments and embed the Customer Charter, I’m excited to see how our relationship with customers develops. With more transparency and more power for our customers, we will be able to build great homes and great communities.