Investing in sustainable relationships with our tenants
At home with Vesteda: that is our mission. We constantly ask ourselves if we are doing the right things and we listen to the feedback from our tenants. Clear and transparent communications contribute to this effort, whether this is digital or a face-to-face interview.
Complaints management and a service-oriented organisation
Prevention is always better than a cure. In addition to our constant improvement of the complaint handling process itself, we see opportunities to improve tenant satisfaction by preventing complaints through optimised maintenance plans and by solving maintenance issues faster. The quality of the services we provide is our highest priority, and one of the ways we improve our services is through the creation of a completely service-oriented culture within Vesteda. Our team consists of people with service orientation in their DNA, people who provide our tenants with a completely seamless client journey. And if something still goes wrong, we solve the problem as quickly as possible to the complete satisfaction of our tenants. On top of this, not only do we collect input from our tenants; we also collect input from our own employees. To do this we conducted an employee survey, which raised a number of clear needs and suggestions for improvements, including the intensification of the collaboration between various departments. All aimed at raising our tenant services to an even higher level.
Affordability and keyworkers
Key workers are a group for whom affordability is under particular pressure. Key workers, such as teachers, police officers and healthcare workers, are essential for healthy functioning cities. A lack of affordable housing in and around cities can force these professionals to go elsewhere. Vesteda’s portfolio offers these key workers suitable homes in urban areas in the Netherlands.
Also, we have initiated the so-called ‘friends concept’ of homes. This form of living allows two independent people to share a home without having a relationship. We intend to increase the supply of this type of home in the vicinity of healthcare institutions and schools and universities and other key worker employers. We plan to allocate a part of our future acquisitions in the regulated mid-rental segment, which specifically caters to lower middle-income groups, to this form of co-tenancy.
We are proud of our loyal tenants. On average, our tenants lease our homes for approximately eight years. However, we also have a large group of tenants with a lease period of 25 years or more. In 2019, in total 789 tenants celebrated their 10, 20, 30, 40 or even 50 years rental anniversary at Vesteda. In cooperation with the Dutch Society for the Protection of Birds (Vogelbescherming Nederland) they received a gift voucher for their online shop.
Annual tenant review
Good communications with tenants is essential. In early 2019, we sent our tenants the ‘Annual Review 2018 for tenants’. We use this annual review to show our tenants what we have achieved in terms of the topics that matter to them, such as sustainability, innovation and tenant satisfaction. We plan to add a click function to the 2019 annual review for tenants, giving tenants the chance to get more information on each subject and a look ahead at what they can expect in 2020.
To make sure our services are aligned with tenants’ wishes and to let our tenants know we really do want to engage with them, we launched a Tenant Panel. We see this panel as an important tool to gather feedback and insights through a short online questionnaire regarding a specific project or topic. We implement any required changes directly, making our efforts to improve tenant satisfaction an iterative learning process. The panel is also helping us to create and improve a relationship of trust between us and our tenants, as 200 tenants have already signed up for this panel.
Sustainability – a key theme in driving tenant satisfaction
From our first survey among the members of our tenant panel, a clear outcome was that our tenants want to live more sustainably. Therefore, in October and November 2019, we organised a promotion for our tenants to pick up six free LED lights from IKEA. In total just over 1,200 tenants made use of this promotion. We also offset the CO₂ that our tenants emitted in the drive to their closest store, and we did this according to the strictest standard (the World Wildlife Fund’s Gold Standard), via a sustainability project in Uganda.
Customer contact centre: a digital and personal touch
We have made our telephone menu more accessible, plus it is now also available in English. Optimising the customer contact centre reporting tool gives us much greater insight into how well our customer contact system is working. To enhance and optimise customer experience, last year we started taping our telephone conversations. By recording conversations and listening to them with colleagues we can learn from each other and improve our service levels. We use these recordings to train our employees, helping them to get even better at having empathetic conversations with our tenants. We find this human touch one of the most important aspects in our drive to be the best landlord in the Netherlands. We are also investigating the implementation of new technological innovations, such as a chatbot and real-time customer service monitoring, to improve our service levels and provide easy access for our tenants.