The Resident Voice Index™: The story so far

The launch of the Resident Voice Index™ initiative was announced in February. The project is shaped by those working and living in social housing and in turn, aims to deliver great value back into the sector. After a positive response to its launch, the Resident Voice Index™ project has been gaining momentum. We have reached out to housing providers and residents to get to the heart of what matters to them and have gained sector partners to support the delivery of this ground-breaking initiative.

The Resident Voice Index™ project is a suite of indices and in-depth analysis developed to challenge conventional customer satisfaction measures and performance indicators. The output will consist of data and insights, bringing together some of the traditionally quantitative aspects of housing delivery, while also gathering self-reported data from social housing residents about their perception of their homes, their neighbourhoods, their wellbeing, and their outlook for the future.

In making sure that the service delivers the best value, we have been working with a broad set of sector stakeholders. This will ensure that a variety of views are independently listened to and that the right data is being collected and delivered back to the sector and residents in a way that benefits them.

Existing studies of resident perception are often procured and paid for by housing providers themselves, broaching standardised questions or those that housing providers are required by regulation to measure. Opportunities for unconscious bias can consequently arise, as well as missed chances for the collection of timely data about changing and shifting topics that are identified by residents and the sector.

Why MRI

At MRI Software, we believe that we are uniquely positioned to deliver a truly independent and responsive service through The Resident Voice Index™ initiative. As a supplier of software and services to around 850 social housing providers, we have a strong position within the sector, as well as the largest direct link to social housing residents via our mutual exchange platform, HomeSwapper, which at any one time has around 250,000 users.

In building this suite of indices and outputs we will make full use of our advanced data visualisation techniques to deliver actionable business insights in the form of ‘always on’ dashboards, to be used for free by registered providers, sector partners, policy makers, regulators and by residents themselves. As such, this is one of the most exciting new projects to emerge within the social housing sector for some years.

Heading up the project within MRI is Solutions Principal, Doug Sarney, who is bringing the Resident Voice Index™ initiative to life by bringing together other leading experts from the sector to deliver on quantitative and qualitative outputs and research.

The beauty of The Resident Voice Index™ initiative is that it will be provided as a free service to whoever wants to take a look. This is for a couple of major reasons: firstly, MRI wants to give something back to the sector beyond more conventional Corporate Social Responsibility activities. And perhaps more significantly, the honesty of a genuinely independent service, not paid for by the providers or with questions asked by the providers themselves, which sits outside of regulatory requirements is going to be a difficult message to ignore.

Doug Sarney, Solutions Principal at MRI Software

Our partners

The Resident Voice index™ initiative is a collaborative undertaking and alongside consultation with providers, policy makers and most importantly, residents, MRI have teamed up with strategic partners across the sector.

The Housing Associations Charitable Trust (HACT) who have a wealth of experience in this space and also acknowledge the drawbacks of conventional satisfaction mechanisms, has advised our research team to ensure the Resident Voice Index™ project asks questions that matter – and asks them well.

The Housing Quality Network (HQN) is one of the sector’s main advisory, support and training organisations. They have and will continue to assist the project through the engagement of their established resident network to ensure that resident insights are incorporated into the product design.

The Resident Voice Index initiative has the potential to be huge for the housing sector to tap into the thoughts and feelings of residents on a regular basis. Not just dipping in with a few hundred here and there; it has the potential to reach tens of thousands of social housing residents.

Jon Land, Head of Business Development, Networks & Events, HQN

Consulting the sector

The Resident Voice Index™ initiative was conceived during the middle of 2020, as our country and the world were reeling from the initial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Seeing a need to collect and disseminate timely insights, the initial proposal quickly led to a structuring of the project and securing its backing and funding, resulting in the internal launch of the project last autumn. Shortly afterwards, the Charter for Social Housing Residents was published, and the project team was delighted to see that The Resident Voice Index™ project aligned with many of the sentiments and goals of the white paper.

Over the last month we have approached housing providers and residents in a series of consultations delving into the issues and topics that need deep investigation. Topics ranged from residents’ perceptions of what a neighbourhood means to methods of communication between landlord and resident and the expectations of residents versus the reality of service provision. We are beyond grateful for these engagements and they have heavily influenced the shape of the outputs.

Some of the core findings from these sessions were that there is an appetite from both residents and providers to change the way that the social housing sector is surveyed and that there is a need to scratch deeper under the surface than traditional methods have thus far done. Providers are already shifting their stance towards more perception and qualitative analysis and residents are open to being surveyed in a more detailed way if the outputs can be used by decision-makers to make a difference to their lives.

In order to challenge the conventional, we will need to ask more uncomfortable questions than have traditionally been asked of residents. Our findings have shown that residents don’t mind being asked about more sensitive subjects as long as you are honest about why you are asking and what difference it may make. Our mission is to generate these insights in the most respectful and sensitive way and present anonymous results so that stakeholders that are serious about improving the lives of social housing residents can act accordingly.

Doug Sarney, Solutions Principal at MRI Software

The first survey focusing on Neighbourhoods and Communities starts this month. It will seek to understand residents’ perceptions and sense of belonging to their neighbourhoods; the facilities that are available to them; what’s important with respect to a feeling of safety; and what social housing residents like about their communities. The results will be published on www.residentvoiceindex.com once available and also distributed as an insights publication.

If you have any questions or would like to find out more about the Resident Voice Index™ initiative and future opportunities to get involved, please get in touch at info.ResidentVoice@mrisoftware.com.

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