Welcome to our customer annual report for 2017/18
We are proud to provide our 90,000 customers with easily accessible, good and safe landlord services and homes people can afford.
Over the past two years we have transformed the way we interact with our customers and have revised and enhanced the way our contact centre operates. By changing the way we work we have reduced effort and have made processes simpler and easier for customers, as well as for us.
We have seen a significant shift in the way our customers interact with us following the introduction of our website and ‘My Account’, our online customer self-serve portal, in 2016. With our customers now able to pay their rent and to report a repair online quickly and easily.
We will continue to find new ways to use technology to support and communicate with our customers but we know that for some this will be a challenge, which is why our customers will still always be able to call us or speak to us face to face should they need to.
Customer voice plays a vital role in helping us to shape and to evolve the services we offer and I’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to leave a comment, fill in a survey or provide us with feedback over the past year.
I’d also like to say a special thank you to our involved customers, members of the Customer Overview Group, Customer Scrutiny Panel and Customer and Community Network who spend their own time working with us to help us to get it right.
Our Welfare Reform Strategy continues to support our customers whilst protecting the business. Providing our customers with seamless access to debt and welfare advice and digital, financial and employability skills training.
This work is key to reducing rent arrears and we are already seeing positive changes in customer behaviours and their attitude towards financial management with a 74% reduction in rent arrears amongst those customers we’ve supported back into employment to date.
Through consultation with our teams we have combined our repairs and planned teams and moved to a regional delivery service which will help us increase our operational efficiency and improve customer satisfaction, as well allowing us to maximise our resources to improve our services.
We are proud to say that 100% of our homes reach the government’s Decent Homes Standard and we are working towards every one of our homes achieving an EPC rating of C or above by 2025, five years ahead of the government’s Fuel Poverty Regulation target.
We are a business with a social purpose and we are committed to supporting our local communities and the people living in them, by aligning what we do to things that we know will have a positive impact.
In 2017/18, with match funding, where we match every £250 raised for charity by our colleagues, we donated £35,240 to good causes and our colleagues dedicated 66 days to supporting local community initiatives.
We also supported 10 individuals on work placements, as well as eight apprentices as they gained on the job training with us whilst studying for a vocational qualification.
But we want and can do more. And, this is exactly why we’ve taken the time to look again at the work we do under the Aster Foundation.
With new funding and through partnership working with local support agencies, we will deliver further financial and digital inclusion training and provide our customers that need it, support with employability and skills development.
The Foundation will also back projects that ensure our communities are places people are proud to call home. And it will continue to evolve, responding to the changing needs of our customers and communities.
Whether it’s through building more new homes, maintaining the thousands of homes we own, providing good services to our customers or making a commitment to giving back, we aim to carefully balance a commercial approach with our social heart.
Thank you for reading this year’s annual customer report and if you have any concerns or feedback, I’m always happy to listen.
Jean Dalziel housing, care and support director, Aster Group