The structure and discipline that Customer Service Excellence (CSE) accreditation can bring to a business has helped Manchester-based Southway Housing Trust excel as one of the city’s leading housing companies.
The not-for-profit business manages 6,000 homes, which it took over from the City Council in 2007 following a ballot among tenants.
The organisation gained its first CSE accreditation in 2012 and over the last six years has improved its score so that it is now fully compliant across all areas, with 14 Compliance Plus ratings.
Compliance Plus is awarded when an organisation goes above and beyond the requirements of a specific area of a standard, and 14 individual awards are thought to be the highest number of recognitions ever achieved by an organisation.
Luke Benfield, head of customers and communications, explains: “We initially used the CSE standard as a tool for ‘self-auditing’ our internal processes while we developed our own customer care framework, Everyone Matters. This is aligned to the CSE framework to ensure that our approach is both efficient and effective and that customers are at the centre of all our services.
“Having worked with Centre for Assessment for six years we believe that the assessors carrying out the audit now have a strong understanding of the way we operate and the services that we provide. This means we are able to get a lot of value from their visits, as they help us to evaluate our ‘direction of travel,’ and the way in which we are delivering customer-focused services.”
Many of Southway’s residents have also become involved with the accreditation process, meeting with the assessors and giving feedback on their experiences of the organisation.
“Recent surveys have shown satisfaction with our services remains high,” continues Benfield, “and we’ve seen a steady increase in tenants who are Very Satisfied with our services as our CSE score has risen.
“Our CSE success has been a huge boost for everyone working at Southway,” he continues. “Staff work with such a commitment to customers because they genuinely want to help people, and know the services we provide are essential.”
Commenting on Southway’s record-breaking accreditation, the operations director Dave Harrison said: “A Compliance Plus recognition is only given when an organisation goes above and beyond the requirements of one element of the CSE standard. Achieving one is considered a great achievement but to achieve 14 is an incredible accomplishment that showcases their commitment to providing excellent service to their tenants.
“Southway’s clear focus on staff development and customer engagement shines through in their assessment, encouraging feedback from employees and customers alike and visibly applying that feedback towards improving the organisation as a whole.”