Elevating Customer Service in the Housing Sector

CSBA's Latest Research Reveals Housing Providers Falling Behind in Customer Service

Delivering excellent customer service benefits tenants, staff and housing providers in many ways.

Positive interactions with providers make tenants feel valued, building trust and confidence. Job satisfaction and morale grows when staff are empowered to prioritise customer needs, making them less likely to leave. Finally, providers benefit from improved operational efficiency, reduced costs and lower staff attrition.  

Given the clear benefits of customer centricity, how well are housing providers performing in managing high quality customer service interactions?  

Over the past year, CSBA evaluated the quality of service delivered by ten community housing providers across the country. Each interaction with providers was assessed by our evaluators using CSBA’s SenseCX quality assurance framework, encompassing 31 key customer-focused behaviours. These assessments form part of CSBA’s customer service benchmark study involving over 200 organisations from sectors including Education, Telecommunications, Financial Services, and Local Government. 

Understanding the service delivery performance of housing providers in the context of other sectors is crucial for identifying areas of excellence and prioritising opportunities for improvement. The chart below shows the relative performance of (median) Benchmark scores across eight sectors, including housing providers.  

Overall, housing provider customer service quality lags every other sector, except Automotive. This may not be surprising, given that tenants often have limited choices and face complex issues like maintenance requests, affordability, and housing quality. Furthermore, interactions can be highly emotional and stressful, amplifying tenant dissatisfaction.

However, it is important to note that CSBA’s trained evaluators assess service performance without emotional bias, focusing instead on measurable aspects rather than subjective feelings. 

In addition to overall performance among housing providers being relatively low, scores for the three pillars of best practice customer service experience—Success, Ease, and Sentiment—are also lacking (details below). These pillars, derived from the 31 customer-focused behaviours measured by CSBA, collectively define what’s most important to customers during interactions with an organisation.

Firstly, customers need to accomplish what they set out to do (Success). Next, interactions should be easy to navigate with minimal effort (Ease). Finally, the experience should be positive, leaving customers feeling valued and appreciated (Sentiment). 

Looking at housing provider performance across the five phases of a customer interaction, it is evident that there is potential room for improvement in the Introduce, Clarify, and Close phases, which all underperform compared to other sectors (see chart below). Enhancing agent performance on these phases is necessary to ensure customers are smoothly and efficiently guided towards resolution, while maintaining a positive customer experience.