In November last year, the Government published the social housing white paper which was developed to ensure that any customers living in social housing are in a safe environment, with good quality homes, and that they are listened to – with a process in place for any issues or complaints they may have.
Just six months later Warrington Housing Association showed their support for this by creating a new Customer Experience Manager role, along with another new role of Customer Voice Officer – both put in place to ensure that the white paper was being adhered to within the organisation.
Sarah Whyment began her new role as Customer Experience Manager at the end of June, having previously worked at Halton Borough Council, in various roles from homeless support to team management.
We caught up with Sarah to see how she is settling into the new job.
Sarah says, “In my spare time I have always had a bit of an obsession at scrolling through jobs online. Ironic really as I never applied for any and was happily employed at the council where I had been for 18 years. But it was during one of these times that I came across the role for Customer Experience Manager here at Warrington Housing Association. The job spec really appealed to me and I felt my skills were a good match, so I decided to apply for the job – without telling anyone I was doing so – even my husband!
“I’d gained a lot of valuable experience over the years working at Halton Borough Council which must have impressed as I got the job. It was now time to put that experience into practice.
“After working in the same place for 18 years I was a little bit daunted about starting with a new organisation, but I needn’t have been as everyone was so friendly and without doubt that made the transition easier.
“The customer service team I manage are responsible for taking all types of calls from our customers ranging from enquiries from those waiting for housing to come up, to dealing with calls for repairs, and issues with rent arrears. It’s wide ranging and involves them dealing with most of the other teams within the organisation as well.
“I am also the line manager to our Customer Voice Officer, Bernie Hubble. We work together to ensure that our residents and customers are represented properly as it’s really important that they have a voice. We also need to make sure that as an organisation we are consistent in our approach to the customer experience as it’s no good if one department is following one protocol and another one something completely different. We all need to be invested in the safety and wellbeing of our residents.
“It’s been a really good start for me here and I love how I am able to implement new ideas and improvements. I have already been able to see some really positive changes take shape, and working with such like-minded people is a real bonus.
“I also like the variety the role gives me. The day usually starts with me looking at any staffing issues that might arise, and usually includes some meetings at some point, which could be with our scrutiny panel made up of residents or other heads of service. These have mainly been over Zoom but as the office opens up it’s great to meet up face to face. I may get to go and check on any new properties especially if they are due to be handed over to residents soon. This will involve going with a Housing Officer to make sure everything works as it should, and that the presentation of the property is up to scratch.
“I’m happy to say the role really excites me and definitely keeps me on my toes; much like my husband and our three boys at home! As if I don’t have enough going on though we are in the process of moving house as well – as not only did I like to spend my time scrolling through the jobs section online but I used to do the same with houses as well. Hence, the new home!
“I don’t want to move again for a long time and I’m very happy here at WHA so I think I need to find a new hobby!”
If you would like to know more about having your say and joining the scrutiny panel at WHA please get in touch with Sarah at email@example.com or call 01925 246810 and ask for Sarah or Bernie.