Executive Director of Customer Experience, Paul Harris, looks at what you told us...
Before Christmas we launched a survey for our customers to tell us your thoughts on how we could improve our services through better use of digital. We had an amazing response to the survey, with over 3,100 people completing the form, and a number of happy customers have since been notified that they have won Love to Shop vouchers as a result.
The information you provided is being used to help us develop our plans for the future, particularly in terms of how we can improve our services, and how digital might fit in. Of course, not everyone is able to or wants to use a smartphone, tablet or laptop. So the first principle we will be using for our customer plan is that while we will offer more digital services, we will still provide services for customers who want to use the telephone, or come and talk to us face-to-face. However, the majority of customers in our survey made it clear that they do use digital channels and platforms today, and would be keen to see Curo offer more services online.
Customers responded to our survey through a variety of means:
- 553 followed a link from a text message we sent out
- 1,076 followed a link from an email we sent, or accessed the survey directly from our website
- 595 surveys were completed by our sheltered housing team, filling in the survey with customers in their homes
- 858 surveys were completed following a visit by one of our repairs team
- 46 surveys were completed at our reception and one-stop-shops
This means we received a balanced representation of customers, covering all types of tenancy, age bracket and home ownership. That's particularly important with a survey around digital, as we wanted to make sure we heard from people who don’t ordinarily use the internet on a daily basis, as well as those who do.
It’s also worth bearing in mind how many customers we have in different types of accommodation across the whole of Curo (see below), and we’re comfortable that the responses we have had on this survey map quite closely with this breakdown.
So what did we learn?
We deliberately kept the survey short to encourage a strong response, and therefore our findings were related to the five key questions we asked. Within each question, we have been able to filter the results so we are able to take account of strong preferences by any one customer group or tenancy type.
- Smartphones: if we set aside customers from our sheltered accommodation for a moment, just over 90% of our customers own smartphones. The proportion of sheltered customers with smartphones is less than 10%. This tells us that for a good proportion of our customers, interacting with Curo via smartphone is a logical option. We have only limited functionality through our existing app and website, and these are areas we will look to build on in 2018.
- Social media: we asked which of the leading social media channels you currently use. More than half of you told us you use Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype and Twitter (in that order). Looking further into the detail we can see that around half of our customers who are over 55 years of age use Facebook, and they use Skype more than younger age groups, who prefer WhatsApp and Twitter. We will be looking at how to improve the information and services on our social media platforms shortly.
- Current usage: we asked what sort of things our customers use the internet for today. Of those who responded, the highest ranked answers were general browsing (83% of responses), staying in contact with friends and family (81%), and shopping or banking (78%). These results suggest that those customers who do use the internet are happy to purchase things online and spend time on the web looking for information and connecting with their friends and family.
- Non-users: we also wanted to know why some of our customers don’t currently use the internet. The main responses were lack of equipment (computer or smartphone – 30%), concerns about sharing information online (29%), and the cost (14%). As we develop our plans we will have a look at ways we can make using the internet easier, cheaper and safer for any of our customers who share these sorts of concerns.
- Curo services: we asked which services you might be interested in using digitally. Your feedback showed two main areas where this would be helpful: booking a repair (71%) and viewing your rent account (62%), while a number of other options received generally positive responses.
Overall, your feedback has given us some clear ideas for how to move forward with better services in the future.
- We need to reflect the fact that some of our customers – mainly in sheltered accommodation and/or in the over 65 age bracket – do not currently use digital channels, and have concerns about them.
- Many of our customers across all groups currently use smartphones, social media and are comfortable online
- Providing some of our services online – particularly in relation to repairs booking and accessing rent account information – would be helpful for many of you.
By the end of March 2018 we will have fully developed our initial plans for improving our services to customers, and this will include where we will look to introduce new digital channels. We will then consult with customers through our resident engagement channels – which are also being updated and a consultation process is happening right now – to ensure our plans are effective.
We are very clear that digital is not the solution to anything of itself, but what we can see is that some of the services we currently provide would be more convenient for the majority of our customers if they were available digitally as well.