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Tenant engagement – David’s New Housing Professional blog

Our New Housing Professional finalists have all blogged for us from a session on day one at TAI 2017 – here’s David Roberts, Newport City Homes’ blog.

David Roberts, Newport City Homes

What a fantastic first day of TAI 2017!

So much learning and meeting a fantastic bunch of fellow housing professionals.

One of the highlights of my day I hear you ask? Well that would be the afternoon workshop delivered by David Wilton of TPAS Cymru on ‘Tenant engagement – advancing the relationship’.

You might remember that my role in housing revolves around service charges, and if I didn’t know better, you all gave me the impression we don’t like them. But once we start talking then the conversation begins to flow.

However we’re all housing professionals. It is residents I talk about service charges with the most and why David’s workshop was so influential for me.

I’m used to going out and talking about charges, and the first part of that is laying the foundations – refreshing my audience on what the charges are and how we make them. It’s getting better but we’re expanding on how many we deliver variable charges to.

David discussed the important of engaging with our residents, how a positive relationship can improve us and where residents challenge our work constructively. This is paramount to me and partly the reason we have seen some success in changing our method for charging.

Snap poll in the room; ‘who in the room feels they are on top of social media?’ Cue the tumbleweed.

The success of my work is only attainable through resident engagement. Without communication service charges look like a method to make more money, and not a way to provide quality sustainable services.

David went on to talk about the power of videos in social media. How it is such an effective tool for communicating messages to residents, even complicated themes like service charges. And then how they can become viral so easily. But of course, only for those with access to social media.

Could we do that with service charges?

Well if I do, I am pleased to say I now know 80% of videos seen on social media are played without sound, so subtitles are a necessity! But more than that, there is a limited amount of time, roughly two minutes to utilise. And if you can’t get you message through in that time then it’s back to the drawing board.

So if that wasn’t enough, he went on to introduce ‘geo-targeting’ tools. For roughly $18 you can have your video pop up on anyone using Facebook’s screen within a set vicinity of your choice. If you have the chance to speak to him then please ask about the power of pot holes!

For me this learning could have a dramatic impact. Before visiting a scheme or area, I can geo-tag the purpose of my visit and pre-answer the usual questions.

The time I spend with residents can become more qualitative. I can make sure those with social media can absorb that information at their leisure. You won’t need to ask me to repeat or skip what you want to hear or already know.

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