Private and affordable housing providers have different customer bases, so there are two trophies in this Finnforest UK-sponsored category. Willmott Dixon takes the affordable housing award, and Miller Homes wins the prize for private housing

Winner – Affordable Housing
Willmott Dixon

Contractor Willmott Dixon has earned its first 100% customer satisfaction score from a client, Catalyst Housing Group, and as a result this year signed a strategic partnering agreement with the housing association. It is the latest success in relationship-building with social housing provider customers, that has seen the contractor move away from tendering to partnering/negotiated work. The company measures customer satisfaction on 15 pre-contract, construction, service and people issues, and this year introduced an extra level of measurement using independent assessors to provide continuous feedback from key clients. Second:
United House

The Housing Forum-backed National Customer Satisfaction Survey only applies to new private housing, but United House is carrying out similar surveys of tenants on its projects, believing that all residents have the right to be satisfied with their home. Its survey asks customers to rate the contractor on a five-point “smiley-face” scale, and the responses are reported and acted on at monthly project meetings. Third
Southdale Homes

Southdale has made customer service a top management priority, with its customer care team reporting directly to the board of directors, and performance indicators reported to the board monthly, along with major customer issues. The company has also introduced more customer care computer software to allow housing association and private sales clients to report and monitor problems. Fourth:
Metropolitan Home Ownership

Metropolitan has empowered staff to respond quickly and efficiently to problems reported by customers with a management procedure called: Repairing the cracks in our defects service. The business also offers an independent money-management advice service, provided by CHAS, to help its customers stay in their homes.

Winner – Private Housing
Miller Homes

If you want to complain to us, don’t write us a letter, phone us instead – that is the message Miller gives to customers, the housebuilder encouraging customers to phone for the quickest and most efficient response. Keeping in contact with the customer is central to its strategy, with buyers being given a demonstration of their new home seven days before legal completion. The customer care department also contacts the homeowner seven days and three weeks after move-in. Staff are set targets for improvement in the key customer service areas of: demonstrations, completing remedials in time agreed, overall satisfaction, and buyers’ willingness to refer, with top performers receiving a bonus and the poorest getting a wooden spoon. Second:
crest Nicholson

As it has twice won this category, and is a top performer in the Housing Forum-backed National Customer Satisfaction Survey, there is no doubting Crest Nicholson has a good strategy, but it goes on improving. It has introduced the role of customer liaison manager to manage relationships throughout and beyond purchase and appointed an environmental manager to improve standards and increase eco-efficiency in home design. Third:
McCarthy & Stone

The retirement housing provider has launched a customer service improvement strategy and developed a range of marketing material, including posters, stickers, newsletters and a charter to make sure that everyone knows about it. The company also hosted seminars on the topic for staff, suppliers and subcontractors, and has started an awards scheme for regional offices getting the best satisfaction scores. Fourth:
Berkeley Homes

Buyers at Berkeley Homes’ Royal Arsenal scheme in east London don’t have to ask how to maintain their home; the housebuilder provides a manual giving the low-down on the quirks of old buildings, details of common problems like condensation and a few tips on future re-decoration.