Improving our services and putting customers first

Our new Housing Services Strategy - Customers First

Over the last few years we’ve been focused on delivering our services throughout the pandemic and bringing together two legacy organisations so we can serve you, our customers, as one team. Team Abri. We’re learning from our mistakes, putting things right and listening to you.

In November 2021 we asked you what you thought about our services. You clearly told us that we need to work on:

  • Communication

  • Repairs

  • Maintenance

  • Anti-social behaviour and safety

  • Parking

  • Community activities and support

  • Honesty and transparency


And this year, the cost of living has become a very big, very real challenge for most of our customers.

It’s time for us, at Abri, to address these things, continue to improve how we deliver services, better listen to you and provide support to help you in your home. Simply, we are putting you, our customers, first.

We’ve got a new plan called Customers First

To start fixing where we’ve gone wrong, and better support you with the issues you’re facing, we’ve launched a new housing services strategy, called Customers First.

We’re unashamedly going back to basics so we can focus on getting right the things that really matter to you and better involve you in decisions.

We’ll be more focused on you and your local community

Being Abri means we have more opportunities to work with great partners and secure funding that we will invest in exactly what our customers and local communities need, and it’ll be different for each community. It also means we can recruit more colleagues to be out and about in our communities.

We’ll establish new local operating areas

We’re going to establish new operating areas, where our teams will manage smaller patches of homes. We’ll join up our housing, repairs and community investment teams so they have dedicated areas to look after, working together to solve local issues and make improvements. And they’ll spend more time in your community, involving you in decisions that affect you and your services.

As part of these areas we’ll create area panels, which you, our customers, will sit on, so we can hear from you directly about what’s happening in your area and what changes are needed.

We’ll share more about these areas and how to be involved with the panels very soon.

You’ll have the convenience of accessing our services on the go 24/7. And we’ll be here in person, and over the phone, to help when you need us and be sure you’re heard and involved in services and issues that affect you.

You will soon have one, My Abri, customer portal, that will make sure you can access our core services and find information whenever you need. No more waiting on the phone.

Accessing our services online means our colleagues will have more time to focus on the things that really matter to you. We’ll be more available in your community and over the phone to help when you need us. This will help lay the foundation of providing a better service that meets your needs and the challenges we are and will continue to face in our communities.

What else will we do?

Through the Customers First strategy we will also be working to improve in all the areas you told us we need to work on. Here’s how:

Communication

You said that although we keep you up to date on changes, it can be difficult to get through to customer services, sometimes there are frustrations with complaints not being responded to, and you’re not always kept in the loop with changes to appointments. To improve communication, we will improve our call centre’s processes to provide a better, more joined-up experience, from the start to end of your contact with us. Repairs You’ve told us that trades operatives don’t always turn up with the right tools or skillset; that sometimes we do quick repairs that don’t fix the long-term problem; and you wait a long time for an appointment that gets missed or cancelled. We will recruit more operatives into Abri and develop their skills to carry out your repairs sooner, to give you more choice in dates and times of appointments, and provide a better quality service. We’ll also support the next generation into trades too by offering even more apprenticeships at Abri.

Maintenance

You said you feel that maintenance of your community and communal areas isn’t the same standard as it was pre-pandemic. You want to know when to expect work to be carried out and be sure it’ll happen.

We’re joining up all the information we have on our repairs, planned investment and data on our homes to find issues early and keep properties in a good condition. We’ll also create a programme to better maintain our homes.

Community activities and support

We heard that some customers were positive about activities and support in their communities. But others were concerned about the lack of activities and support. You’d like to see more community hubs and social clubs. You also mentioned a lack of colleague presence.

We will build an online ‘Customer and Community Hub’, signposting to community and ‘self-help’ services that reduce social isolation, extend support and help to those customers who need it most. We’ll create new pathways into employment. And we’ll look at refocusing our time and resources to traditional resident involvement activities. This includes working with you to empower the community to secure funding and deliver projects that improve the community.

Anti-social behaviour (ASB) and safety

You said you’d like us to take more responsibility in making our communities safer by working with relevant partners and being more present.

To achieve this we’ll work closer with agencies like the police and local authorities and seek external funding, to create more effective responses to issues that affect community wellbeing like ASB, litter and poorly maintained shared spaces.

Honesty and transparency

You told us that you want clarity around what you’re paying for. You’d also like to better understand what you can expect from our repairs and maintenance teams. You feel like the personal touch has been lost when providing services and some areas feel forgotten. We’re really sorry to hear that.

To resolve this, we will make sure that customers get off to a great start in their home with the right void standard, welcome pack and service. We’ll also structure our housing team to give clear, accountable ownership for homes, estates and schemes, where a named person is responsible and answers to our customers.

We’re starting to make improvements

We’ve got a long way to go and need your help to get things right. But like it says in our strategy, we’ve started to focus more on the issues that matter to you and your community. Using your feedback, we’ve set up action plans in areas that need more of our attention and will continue to do this. Here are some of the improvements we’ve already started making thanks to your input.

In Mansbridge

  • We’ve got more control over the quality of cleaning at Burma House

  • We’re replacing the fencing around The Meadows

  • We’ve launched a community pantry at Round About Café

  • And we’re working with the police to respond to complaints of ASB


There’s lots underway at Longwood Park, including:

  • Introducing a dedicated team to deal with anti-social behaviour

  • Work with Slough Borough Council on the Hawker Hill outdoor areas project, planting wildflowers and creating a play area

  • One of the local residents is running coffee mornings

  • We have works planned to make improvements to the ventilation in bathrooms


We know there are several ongoing challenges at Sawyers Close, so we’ve set up a dedicate website where we’ll share the latest updates on redevelopment plans, our proposals for the future and important work to the buildings. We’ve also been working hard with SSE on a heating upgrade programme.

At Ramscote, we’ve worked to resolve some of your issues and are investigating:

  • Storage of garden items causing an eyesore

  • Lights being left on, and how we can reduce our electricity usage

  • Staff and contractors leaving a mess in communal spaces


These are just a few of the changes we’ve been making by joining our teams up and listening to what you and your community need.

So what’s next?

In the next few months we will share more information with you about your local team and the new customer portal. We’ll also be recruiting for customers to join the area panels and how you can have your say more.

And we’ll keep you updated as we start to make changes and improvements to our services for the better. Keep an eye out on the My Abri portal, our customer newsletter The Hub and our social media channels for ways we’re improving our services, and how you can get involved.

If you’ve got an idea, a question or want to find out more, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.