Welcome to our Annual Report to customers. Before you explore the different sections of the report, please read these short introductions from Terrie Alafat CBE (Group Chair) and Victor Andrews (Chair of Riverside Customer Voice Executive) who talk about what kind of things are included in the report and why customer involvement is so important in improving our service.
Terrie Alafat CBE, Group Chair, introduces the Annual Report for Customers
I am delighted to introduce Riverside’s Annual Report to Customers 2021 and would like to take this opportunity to thank you in advance for taking the time to read this report. At Riverside, we continue to believe that this report provides an important overview of our performance to customers and our plans for further improvement.
Over a year ago I took on the role of Chair of The Riverside Group, and whilst most of my time has been spent considering how we can adapt our services and best support our customers during the pandemic, I am now hopeful we can look towards a more positive future. I am incredibly proud of how staff have remained so committed to their roles, in what has been a very challenging year. They have continued to put customers at the heart of everything we do and I believe this has been demonstrated in the increase in levels of satisfaction across most of our services.
In this report, you will read about what we have achieved over the last 12 months as part of our commitment to improving services, including the delivery of our Customer Experience Action Plan. I am particularly pleased to have seen advances in opportunities to access our services digitally during these unprecedented times including the introduction of an app and a live chat function. I know there will be further improvements to our digital offer over the next 12 months.
As well as adapting and continuing to deliver our core services, we have also tried to support our customers living in some of the communities most affected by Covid-19. This has included running new hotel-based services for rough sleepers as part of the ‘Everyone In’ initiative. We have also proactively and repeatedly contacted customers who have been struggling with isolation and worrying about money. We have provided them with practical support in the form of nearly a quarter of a million pounds worth of hardship grants.
We will continue to ensure customers are central to everything we do and will endeavour to hear and act upon your voices and views. I am grateful for the support of our dedicated customers who are part of the Riverside Customer Voice Executive. They have had a positive impact not only in helping Riverside to improve services, but also in widening engagement opportunities for customers such as the Facebook Live sessions.
I really do hope that you find this report useful and the significant number of service improvements gives you the confidence that Riverside is committed to its customers and the communities in which is works.
Victor Andrews, Riverside Customer Voice Executive Chair – why it’s important you read the Annual Report
As both a Riverside customer and the Chair of the Riverside Customer Voice Executive (RCVE), I always find the Annual Report to Customers an important and insightful read. The report provides an overview of performance of the services that matter to you most.
I am really pleased to see that this year there has been a number of improvements across most services areas, and customers are now more satisfied with the quality of services they receive. I am particularly pleased to see the number of customers who believe that Riverside listens and acts upon their views is increasing.
However, we know there is much more progress to be made, and this is where I believe the role of the RCVE is so important. RCVE remains an independent body, but works closely with Riverside to not only improve services but engage with the widest group of customers. Whilst the pandemic has meant our ability to meet face to face has been restricted, we have adapted, and moved many engagement opportunities online, including our RCVE Conference last September. We now have 800 members as part of our online iCommunity. I am also delighted to see so many customers engaging with the RCVE via our social media channels including our regional Facebook pages and our main Facebook page. Over the last 12 months we have hosted several Facebook Live sessions focusing on Rents and Service Charges, Affordable Warmth and Budgeting.
The RCVE is driving changes to services in a number of ways, including consultation sessions and scrutiny reviews. The RCVE also undertook its first assessment of Riverside’s services against the Together with Tenants Charter, which will lead to the development of an improvement plan. In addition, RCVE members are currently part of Riverside’s work to prepare for the proposals within the Social Housing White Paper. This important document hopes to reset the relationship between tenants and landlords. We are specifically looking at the most important issues to you including, complaints, engagement opportunities and the provision of performance information.
As we look ahead, we want to introduce more opportunities for customers to get involved. I would really like to hear from you if you have views on a service or engagement opportunity. As the more customers that are involved, the stronger voice we will have.
I would like to end by thanking Riverside for recognising the importance of the work that the RCVE undertakes and the staff that support us.
All Riverside performance figures in our Annual Report relate to the financial year ending 31 March 2021. They do not include Home Ownership data.