Learning from complaints

How we’re using your feedback to improve what we do

We know that sometimes we don’t get things right. We want to be as transparent as possible when this happens and show that we’ve learned from our customers’ feedback.

We’ll be adding examples to this page where we’ve taken feedback from complaints to make improvements.

You can also visit our ‘You said, we listened, we improved’ pages to see more examples of how we have improved our services.

You said, we listened, we improved

See more examples of how we've improved our services and performance based on your feedback.

You said, we listened, we improved

To help us embed a culture of learning from complaints at Salix Homes, we launched an internal ‘Live, Grow, Thrive’ campaign. This internal campaign is about highlighting the significance of lessons learned from our complaints and customer feedback. It’s about recognising opportunities for growth, understanding our customers’ experiences, and improving our services.

As part of this campaign, we launched our new ‘Lesson Spotlights’. Our lesson spotlights are created from the key themes from our customer complaints and feedback. Each lesson is a response to the challenges our customers face, aiming not only to address specific issues but also to encourage a proactive and customer focused culture within our teams.

Why we did this

Sharing lessons learned and lesson spotlights across teams helps us to make sure that our interactions with our customers are continually improving. Complaints are valuable touchpoints that provide us with opportunities to listen, understand, and grow.

What our customers told us

Through looking at themes from our customer complaints, we found that a theme was ‘lack of communication’.

For instance, in quarter three of 2023, we received 14 complaints about ‘lack of communication’, particularly concerning delays in returning calls and not informing customers about changes to repair appointments.

In response, we began closely monitoring our call-back performance to ensure it aligns with our Customer Charter commitments. This data is now shared monthly and discussed in operational manager meetings. We also implemented a proactive communication approach in the repairs team as part of a comprehensive service review. Both initiatives improved performance and customer service while also decreasing the number of related complaints. Our customer callback performance has risen from under 70% in September 2023 to 92% in February 2024.

We have been rigorous in our efforts to embed the importance of learning from customer feedback into our service culture. This includes training for colleagues on how to identify and record learning as well as taking action to improve services as a result.

Additionally, improvements and positive actions resulting from feedback are discussed in our ‘Complaints Oversight Group’, which is one of our customer sub-groups.

Our Live Grow Thrive campaign complements the service improvements made. The first lesson spotlight campaign was an organisation wide campaign that focused on the importance of maintaining an open line of communication with our customers and incorporated a hard-hitting campaign about the importance of effective communication and the impact on customers when we don’t get this right. ‘Putting yourself in the customer’s shoes’ is a thread that will run through all our lesson spotlights.

What this means for our customers

Sharing lessons learned and lesson spotlights, helps to encourage a proactive and customer focused culture within our teams. As a result, we’ve already seen positive outcomes for customers, both in terms of reduced complaints in specific areas and improved overall service performance.

Salix Homes is committed to providing high quality, safe and decent homes and we recognise the significant impact that pest infestations can have on people’s health and wellbeing.

In December 2023, we introduced a new Pest Policy outlining our zero-tolerance approach to pests within our customers’ homes, and to ensure we’re providing an effective response to reports of pests, as well as pro-actively identifying unreported cases.

You can read the Pest Policy under the ‘Your home’ section of our policies pages.

The background

Historically in the social housing sector, responsibility for pest management has been ambiguous and we wanted to establish clear expectations for both ourselves as a landlord, and our customers, regarding our respective responsibilities in addressing and preventing pest-related issues.

Prior to the new policy being introduced, customers were responsible for dealing with pests in their homes, other that in exceptional circumstances.

Customers who reported pests to us would be directed to the pest control service at Salford City Council, where costs start at £40 per treatment, with multiple treatments often required.

With the majority of Salix Homes customers receiving benefits or on low incomes, this was an unaffordable expense that most of our customers just couldn’t afford, particularly when they’re already struggling with the impact of the cost of living crisis.

Customer impact

With the cost of pest treatment, difficulties in eradicating the problem and unclear guidelines regarding responsibilities for pests, we recognised that this was causing increased distress and frustration for our customers.

One customer living with a pest infestation told us: “This is having a significant effect on my mental health and the mental health of my children. I want Salix Homes to listen to me and understand the impact this is having on my family.”

We take the condition of our homes very seriously and we want to make sure all our customers’ homes are safe and healthy, and most importantly, that we listen to our customers if they do have any concerns.

Our new and improved approach to dealing with pest issues aims to deliver a solution that directly addresses customer concerns and improves the experience of using our services, delivering a more efficient, transparent, and customer-focused service.

What have we done?

We carried out a review of our internal processes with a view to changing our policy so we could better support our customers and improve our ways of working.

The new pest policy outlines our commitment in ensuring that all reports of pests are addressed appropriately and promptly, and ultimately that all our customers are safe in their homes. This has been underpinned with additional training for our workforce.

We take reports of pests seriously – this includes but is not limited to – rats, mice, bedbugs, larder beetles, fleas, flies and cockroaches.

We carry out property inspections and any appropriate pest control treatment within five working days of it being reported. In some instances, pest treatment alone isn’t sufficient, so we’ll carry out any necessary repairs or remedial work that is required.

If we do carry out pest treatment or repairs in our customers’ homes, then we’ll follow up with them afterwards to ensure the issue has been resolved.

We know pest problems can affect people differently, so we’ll look at each situation individually to see what impact it’s having. If needed, we’ll offer more immediate interventions, including providing alternative, temporary housing options if necessary.

We’re also proactive about finding any pest problems that haven’t been reported to us yet. We do this as part of our neighbourhood management processes and during regular checks on properties, such as tenancy audits and stock condition surveys.

This new approach to dealing with pest issues also feeds into wider operational changes, including the new operating model for our organisation, which we launched in summer 2023.

As part of our new ways of working, we introduced new housing officers who present greater visibility and a friendly and familiar face across our communities. They are more focused and responsible for looking after dedicated neighbourhoods, which includes pro-actively identifying sources of pest infestations in our communities, such as overgrown gardens or fly-tipping.

What’s next?

We will continue to adopt a robust and proactive approach to dealing with reports of pests in our properties.

We’re reviewing our property standards and we’re exploring how we can enhance our property management using data, which helps us better understand our customers’ needs. By getting to know our customers and homes better, we can make sure our services are fit for purpose and that we keep improving. Our goal is to ensure that everyone has a safe, high quality and healthy home.

You said, we listened, we improved

You said, we listened, we improved

The actions we've taken as a direct result of feedback from our customers and partners

You said, we listened, we improved
Complaints and compliments

Complaints and compliments

Let us know whether we're doing well, or if you're unhappy about something

Complaints and compliments
Performance

Performance

How our services are measuring up

Performance