What we got wrong and what we did about it

As a tenant-led organisation, we place the feedback we receive from our tenants at the heart of everything we do.

We're always listening, whether that be when we visit your home, when you respond to surveys about our services, or when you take the time to give us formal feedback. We're happy to hear when you're pleased with our services and will aim to do more of the things you like.

However, when you let us know that you aren't happy with our services, we aim to resolve things for you and to learn from our mistakes.

We don't always get things right the first time, and sometimes things will go wrong - but we try to make sure we always identify how we can fix or improve something.

Here are some examples of where things haven't gone right, and what we've done about it:

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Contact centre call wait times (May 2024)

What we got wrong

We’d been monitoring our call wait times and picked up that tenants were having to wait an extended length of time before our call handlers could answer their call. In March the average wait time was around 12 minutes which was adding to frustrations and dissatisfaction and delaying opportunities to address tenant queries.

What we did about it

We changed some of our staff processes in order to trigger a quicker focus on call handling. If a call has been waiting for longer than 5 minutes we immediately add more call handler availability and if we see wait times have pushed to 15 minutes all available staff will be moved to answer calls. Inbound contact becomes the main priority within the contact centre during these periods.

In April our average wait time was down to 9 minutes 45 seconds, and by mid-May this had reduced further to 4 minutes 50 seconds.

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Compensation payments (February 2024)

What we got wrong

We identified that at times our compensation payments were taking too long to reach our tenants. When our tenants already feel let down by part of our services we didn’t think it was right that we disappoint them again by failing to ensure their compensation is paid in a timely manner.

What we did about it

We increased the efficiency of our internal approval processes by expanding the awareness of pending payments amongst management. We now have multiple managers who can approve payments meaning a shared responsibility for resolving any outstanding compensation requests. Red Kite always sets out to be tenant led and this recent improvement is a great example of putting tenants at the heart of our decision making.

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Listening to tenants about redecoration (October 2023)

What we got wrong

Parsonage Close in Totteridge, High Wycombe, consists of five blocks of homes where our contractors Ian Williams are currently completing the redecoration of all previously painted surfaces and communal areas. Prior to carrying out the work, the contractors provided colour choice forms to the tenants in all five blocks, with the final colour choice being chosen by majority vote. However, rather than using the colour chosen by each block, the contractors used the colour chosen by a majority across all five blocks - this meant that one block, who had voted for magnolia, were disappointed with the final result.

What we did about it

Although the colour choice had been communicated to all tenants before painting began, we reviewed the approach taken and the outcome with Ian Williams. Their team then visited Parsonage Close and spoke with the tenants, and have now returned to repaint using magnolia, at no additional cost to Red Kite.

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Loft Access & Usage (June 2023)

What we got wrong

It was highlighted that we were lacking some clarity for tenants in terms of using their loft spaces. It is something we do not encourage due to the Health, Safety & Fire Risks associated and therefore in the event of personal possessions being damaged we would not be liable.

What we did

We created an information sheet for new tenants to read as part of their sign-up pack so they understand why we discourage using loft spaces and where it is prohibited. It reaffirms that as part of their tenancy agreement they should not keep large quantities of anything that could particularly catch fire and could therefore be deemed as a tenancy breach. It also offers more clarity in that if a tenant chooses to use a loft space it is at their own risk and they could be liable to recharges if any damage does occur. The guidance also highlights what tenants should expect from us in terms of roof insultation standards, and what to do if a loft space has not been cleared when moving in. This information was also shared with our relevant inspection teams and will be relayed during upcoming, and is also available on our website.

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Follow-on works - managing expectations (March 2023)

What we got wrong

During a complaint investigation a tenant suggested we provide more information on our website around the follow-on works process to help manage expectations when further repair works may be required.

What we did

We reviewed our content and agreed that we weren't being clear enough with our tenants around how we go about raising follow-on works and the timescales for returning to complete works. This also matched up with some data from our contact centre, and the fact that our tenants sometimes need to call us to find out when we might be returning to complete a repair. So we updated our repairs webpage to make the process clearer to tenants and to let them know we will always aim to be back in touch within two working days if we can't fully repair a job at the first attempt.

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Right to Buy (February 2023)

What we got wrong

During a Right to Buy application process the tenancy holder of the home in question sadly passed away. When the applicant called to report the death he was told by us that this would unfortunately mean his Right to Buy application would have to be cancelled. The Terminations team picked up on this decision: they challenged the cancellation after researching other similar cases, and sought legal advice as to whether the grounds for cancellation were in line with housing law. The legal advice that came back was that in fact the applicant was still entitled to proceed with the application, and as a result the decision to cancel was overturned.

What we did about it

We apologised for having provided the wrong response, and for the unnecessary distress caused. The applicant was understandably relieved, and very pleased to be able to proceed with the application. As a result of this experience we are updating our Right to Buy procedure to ensure we deal correctly with similar scenarios in the future. This was also a great example of our team applying our customer-focused approach to ensure the best possible outcome for our applicant.

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Electrical inspection letters (December 2022)

What we got wrong

During a complaint investigation it was discovered that some of our communication letters sent out relating to electrical inspections lacked clarity and were not always in keeping with our brand and communications standards. 

What we did about it

We updated the wording in our letters to ensure that they are clear, consistent and offer more clarity. We've added the general time of an appointment to specify whether you can expect us in the morning or in the afternoon. We've also updated our statements on COVID-19 and ensured that our contact details and our contractor's are listed within the letter.

Wayleave requests (October 2022)

What we got wrong

We were contacted by a broadband provider with a request to install fibre optic cables on our land in order to provide faster internet services to one of our tenants. The provider was looking to secure a wayleave agreement - essentially a legal licence from the landowner in order to begin connecting our tenant’s home. The request was passed on internally to the relevant pod, however the tenant had to chase us numerous times to find out the status of the agreement which in the end took over three months to be approved. This was an inordinate amount of time to wait for a response and not up to the communication standards we would expect.

What we did about it

We devised a process map to clearly define the actions and responsibilities in response to any further requests of this nature. Staff are now clearer on what we require from the telecommunications provider, and also our procedures, in order to offer a response in a more timely manner.

Late repairs appointments (August 2022)

What we got wrong

During our regular performance monitoring sessions with our repairs contractor Gilmartins it became clear that our tenants were reporting high instances of operatives turning up late or unexpectedly for scheduled appointments. Tenants were subsequently calling the Red Kite contact centre to check when their operative would be arriving and the uncertainty made it difficult to plan their day around an important visit.

What we did about it

We worked closely with Gilmartins to make their appointment tracking service ‘Localz’ available to Red Kite tenants. When a job is scheduled tenants receive direct communications via SMS as well as up-to-date information as to when the operative is on the way and when they will be arriving. They will also get a notification if an appointment needs to be unexpectedly rescheduled, keeping our tenants up to date as much as possible.

This service was launched in September 2022 and since then we have seen a reduction in the number of late arrivals to appointments. This has also had a knock-on effect with our contact centre who have seen a reduction of 81.4% in the number of calls enquiring about an operative being late in the three months since Localz has been in operation.

The introduction of this technology solution is not only keeping tenants better informed but is also reducing the number of phone calls to our contact centre, freeing up lines for when our tenants need us most and allowing us to answer queries faster.

Our approach to damp and mould (June 2022)

What we got wrong

Through the feedback process, our tenants were drawing our attention to areas we could improve in our approach to damp, mould and condensation (DMC), in particular to try to avoid repeat issues which they were worried would return in the colder autumn and winter months ahead.

What we did about it

We have improved the questions we ask in the DMC process in the first instance and made the DMC inspection much more in-depth and most importantly, tenant-focused. Communication is key and it's crucial that we're accountable for the steps we need to take to resolve the issue, so we'll be agreeing all action plans with the tenants in their homes at the time of inspection. In particular, this thorough approach to diagnosis of the problem and specification of the solution should reduce the instances of DMC reoccurring.

Items stored in communal areas (April 2022)

What we got wrong

We removed a tenant's bicycles and scooters which were being stored in a communal area. Although we gave adequate notice of our intentions by stickering the items, we did not actively try to find out who they belonged to or why they were being stored there. It was also discovered that we were not recording appropriately any previous discussions we may have had with tenants regarding items being stored in communal areas.

What we did about it

We have added extra steps to the Items in Communal Areas (ICA) Process Map to ensure we actively contact homes nearest to where the items are discovered in order to try and encourage removal by the owner. We have also added a step to ensure all actions are documented in the Open Housing incident.

Reporting antisocial behaviour (ASB) (February 2022)

What we got wrong

A tenant told us that they felt the process for reporting ASB concerns and behaviours took too long with having to wait for diary sheets to be sent by post, and then be returned by post, before they were assessed. This was adding to the delays in seeing any improvements to their situation.

What we did about it

We looked at how these forms could be sent out in a digital format so they were more accessible and easier to complete. These forms are now emailed to tenants who have raised an ASB case and this will provide them with the means to start completing diary sheets sooner. They can then email them back to the ASB team on completion, avoiding delays and not having to rely on the post. It will also help tenants to provide us with information in their preferred format.

Slow repair times (October 2021 - January 2022)

What we got wrong

In October 2021, a tenant contacted us reporting a repair to their garage. 12 weeks later, the repair hadn't been carried out and the tenant's husband received an injury from the garage door. A formal complaint was raised due to the lack of action taken to resolve the repair.

What we did about it

Our Empty Homes Team Leader contacted the tenant on 24th December, and arranged for a new door to be fitted and compensation of two months' garage rent. The new garage door was fitted during the week of 17th January 2022. We acknowledge that this is unacceptable and have investigated why this repair wasn't actioned more quickly. Further training on the repairs system has been given to staff to ensure that repairs jobs are raised and removed correctly.

We received great feedback from the tenant in response to the complaint:

"Thank you for my complaint response. I never expected the issue to be handled so quickly or smoothly. I received phone calls from Red Kite on Christmas Eve and the job was scheduled. Once again, thanks to all those involved, the service was exceptional in resolving the issue."

Repair requirements (December 2020)

What we got wrong

We were receiving complaints from tenants where we were attending to complete repairs that had been reported but failing to complete the repair during the visit. In a number of cases this was because we we hadn't fully understood the repair requirement and had sent the wrong tradesperson for the job. We know this isn't good enough.

What we're doing

We arranged some specialist repairs diagnostic training in December 2020 for our Contact Centre team who take and raise repair requests. This training has provided the team with enhanced knowledge on repairs, including how to ask effective questions to ensure we fully understand the repair request, identify the right tradesperson for the job and, where possible, complete the repair at the first attempt.

We'll continue to ensure new starters are provided with the same training and information guides, and will monitor the performance of all existing staff to help us maintain a high standard and identify where additional training or support is required.

Home delays (November 2020)

What we got wrong

We advertised a home which was successfully bid on by an applicant. The home they had bid on had not yet been returned to us due to delays with arranging for the home to be emptied. We hadn't been clear with the incoming tenant about this, nor about when we could expect it to be ready.

A member of the incoming tenant's family got in touch to let us know the situation was causing anxiety, especially as the incoming tenant was suffering from ill health, and understandably was keen to move in and get settled.

What we did

As soon as we were made aware of the anxiety this was causing, we recognised that we weren't providing a great customer experience and wanted to put this right as soon as possible. We were able to let the incoming tenant know of some similar, alternative homes, one of which they were happy to move into. We ensured works were completed quickly to allow our new tenant to move in.

We held a learning session with our team to ensure we strengthened our processes so that we keep applicants up to date once they have been offered a home - especially if there is going to be a delay to when the home will be available. We know that once someone is offered a home, they are keen to move in as soon as possible, so it's really important that we provide the right information at the right time. We'll be visiting our new tenant soon to see how they've settled into their new home.

Heating system testing (November 2020)

What we got wrong

Recently, a tenant moved into one of our homes, and after having their boiler recommissioned they noticed various leaks to the heating system – we know that this isn't something a tenant wants to be dealing when they first move in, and that the heating system should be fully working with no faults.

What we did/are doing

We're working with our contractors to improve our checks on the heating system before a home is let – this will include a full test of the heating system before the gas is capped to ensure there are no faults and the heating system is working as it should be. Any faults which are identified will then be picked up and completed as part of our void repair works, before the keys are handed over to our new tenants.

Multiple leaks (October 2020)

What we got wrong

When a tenant reported multiple leaks to us over a period of time, we acted on the reports, raising multiple repairs to fix the issue. However, we failed to identify at the earliest opportunity that this reoccurring repair request required a deeper look to understand what was at the root of the issue.

What we did

We've reiterated to staff the need to view the repairs history on a home when a new repair request is made, highlighting any repeated requests or trends to a Repairs Specialist for a deeper investigation. We've also implemented a new suite of reports to highlight homes where a higher than expected number of repairs are raised, allowing us to investigate further and identify and target the root cause.

Follow-on works (September - November 2020)

What we got wrong

We received feedback from some of our tenants about how we've kept them informed when we need to carry out follow-on works after attending a repair. We know that keeping you informed is really important, and in these cases we haven't been clear as we should have been about when the works would take place.

What we did

We've worked with our repairs contractor to review the process for arranging and booking follow-on works, introducing a dedicated resource to ensure that follow-on works are actioned without delay from booking in the work with both contractors and tenants, so everyone knows when the work will be completed.

Call wait times (July - September 2020)

What we got wrong

We saw satisfaction about the ease of reporting a repair drop from 85.8% in July, to 63.3% in September. We do know that we were busier than usual, and taking more repair requests, and that as a result of this, call wait times were longer than we would have liked them to have been.

This resulted in some of our tenants abandoning calls before being able to speak to us, and in your feedback you have told us that you feel it can be difficult to get through to us on the phone. We want to provide an excellent service and are sorry that we haven't been meeting your expectations.

What we are doing

We're currently looking at how we can improve our resourcing to help reduce wait times. However, we want to make sure that, while the wait times are higher than where we'd want them to be, we're providing you with information so you can make decisions on how you want to speak to us. To do this, we've added information to let you know how long it will be for your call to be answered, as well as other ways you can contact us, such as web chat or by email, if you don't need to speak to us straight away.

We're pleased that we're starting to see satisfaction around the ease of reporting a repair increasing again and it's great to see more of you are using our digital channels to contact us.