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Great Expectations

Social housing providers need to learn from outside sector

Social housing providers need to learn from organisations like Amazon and Royal Mail if they are to meet the expectations of their customers, according to a new report.

A poll of almost 6,000 social housing customers shows that more than four out of five people (82%) expect the same level of service as they do from other companies. And they expect it, because they’re paying for it.

That’s the main finding from a new report, Great expectations, commissioned by social housing provider Acis, which owns and manages more than 7,000 properties across the East Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber.

Acis joined forces with seven other housing associations in what is considered to be one of the largest studies of its kind in the UK.

The report features many examples of customers wanting a service more like those delivered by organisations outside of the social housing world.

Greg Bacon, Acis Chief Executive, said: “We commissioned this research to better understand the expectations of our customers and see how we might be able to adapt to meet those expectations. Ultimately, we want our customers to be happy with the service they get from us.

“The message has been received loud and clear. Customers simply want to receive a good service. They want things to be done quickly and they want to be treated with respect.

“And while it’s important that providers continue to pursue digital methods of communication, many customers still want that face-to-face human interaction. Great service should happen irrespective of the way it’s delivered.

The report reveals the top ten qualities of great service in social housing:

  1. Repairs
  2. Speed
  3. Maintenance
  4. Listening
  5. Communicating
  6. Problem-solving
  7. Keeping promises
  8. Timeliness
  9. Customer service
  10. Respectfulness

On the back of the findings, Acis is making a series of recommendations for itself and other providers, as well as government, to implement – including to learn from and benchmark against organisations outside of the social housing sector.

Greg added: “Housing associations need to recognise they do not operate in a bubble – in a social-housing-only world. They need to remember that from their customers’ perspective they are just one of hundreds of organisations their customers encounter daily. There is a perception that it was accepted in the past that people in social housing should accept the level of service they get because they often get their accommodation paid for. This needs to change.”

The other housing associations participating in the research were Gentoo, Midland Heart, Orbit, Regenda, Riverside, WDH and Yorkshire Housing.

Great Expectations - The next steps

Great Expectations - The next steps

In July, we launched our latest research report – Great Expectations.

We worked with seven other housing associations and spoke to almost 6,000 social housing customers to hear what they expect from good customer service.

The main finding was that more than four out of five people (82%) expect the same level of service as they do from other companies, such as Amazon or Royal Mail.

But what do we do with this information? Well, we learn.

Our first step is to make sure we live and breathe these findings on a daily basis.

We have been using this research as the subject of internal training sessions where our people came along to learn about the findings and how they can make a real difference day by day.

And we’re not the only ones to do this. We’re delighted to say that our partners in the research, Orbit, have also been using the findings to educate their staff further to make a positive impact.

Furthermore, Sheffield-based Arches Housing attended our launch event in July and were inspired to share our research with their people as well as it influencing a consultation process with their own customers.

Over the next weeks and months, we will be sharing more around what we and other housing associations are doing to make sure we are listening to these findings as a sector to continue to improve our service. 

If you or your housing association has been influenced by the Great Expectations research report, let us know by emailing

To find out more about the research or download the report, you can find it here


Great Expectations report launch a success

Great Expectations report launch a success

Friday 19 July saw the launch of our Great Expectations research report.

Taking place at the Showroom cinema in Sheffield, we were joined by 50 attendees from the housing sector to present and discuss the findings.

We worked with seven other housing providers and research professionals Service Insights to produce the report which focuses on what social housing customers’ true expectations of great service looks like.

Attendees including, TPAS, The National Housing Federation and the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government were in attendance as we presented the findings.

Hannah Taylor-Dales, Service Development Manager at Acis said: “We were delighted to be able to share our report with so many people from the sector.

“We hope that people can use the findings and start to take it forward to make sure our sector is doing all it can to put customers first.”

Find out more and download the research here

Download our full findings here

Download our findings here