We’re committed to delivering a good customer experience and we strive to be a customer-centric organisation. This is at the heart of our Corporate Strategy and is embedded in the values of our organisation.
Within each area of Sanctuary, we express this in a way that is relevant to our customers and brings it alive in our teams.
Customer Experience Strategy
At the heart of Sanctuary are our customers, providing a safe and good quality home for them is the reason why we exist. Delivering an excellent customer experience is therefore the responsibility of the entire Sanctuary team.
Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We own and manage around 120,000 units of accommodation across the country and take a customer-first approach that drives our systems and processes, making the experience of our customers central to how we operate and make decisions.
Insight and feedback from customers is vital in learning what we are doing well and where we can improve our services, and we will continue to strengthen our engagement by working closely with our residents and their communities.
At Sanctuary Care, we aim to enrich our residents and their loved ones’ lives by going above and beyond the expectations of good-quality care and support.
- We look beyond physical and emotional care needs at what makes every person unique
- We understand the people close to their hearts
- We find out their passions and dreams yet to be fulfilled
- We understand what our residents need to feel content, happy and fulfilled.
Sanctuary Supported Living works closely with clients, their families, carers and health professionals, to deliver specialist support and housing that gets people on their pathway for independence.
Our range of housing is as varied as the needs of the people we support - and collaborative working between our teams and clients is central to our success. Quality is our focus - if we are the best we can be, clients can be their best too. Everything is designed to support maximum independence and long-term tenancies, where people learn life skills, achieve personal goals and make decisions about their lives.
We follow sustainable practices, always focusing on health, wellbeing and improved outcomes for the long-term. We are committed to making sure that supported housing is available for those who need it, now and in the future.
Sanctuary Students provides a home to nearly 10,000 students in large university cities across the UK. Our properties and facilities have everything students need to study for their university or college course. But we understand that there is more to the student experience than studying.
We have a key role to play in making sure our students get the most out of their time at university, and that’s where our More Than Just a Room programme comes in. The programme is carefully created to provide exclusive services to support the students’ experience.
Our customers are our leaders
We seek our customers’ views on most major projects to understand how sustainable changes would impact their lives.
Following completion of major estate-level retrofit works at Holt Farm in Leeds, we surveyed residents who had received improvements to their homes. Feedback from customers living in Holt Farm has been incorporated in consequent retrofit projects and our overall design of programmes, including enhancing the communication we provide customers with along the retrofit journey.
When looking at how we support our stakeholders to reduce their water consumption, we asked our Environment and Climate Change Community of Interest, made up of 98 of our social housing and supported living customers, what Sanctuary could do to help them reduce their water usage. When respondents stated that they wanted more water butts at properties, we added water butts into our new home specification as a standard feature of gardens and green spaces – just one example of our responsive approach to customer feedback.
We’ve also involved our customers in procurement of retrofit contractors. As part of our Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund bid with the Greener Futures Partnership, we launched a procurement framework for contractors for energy efficiency works. Dylan Asphar, Chair of our Environment and Climate Change Community of Interest, participated in the scoring of contractors bidding to be on the framework. The contractors who have been successful in getting on the framework will ultimately enter our customers’ homes to do sometimes-intrusive energy efficiency works – so it’s imperative we include our customers in assessing their approaches for engagement and communication.
We need our customers to tell us what they think so we can continuously improve. And we recognise that fixing things when they go wrong is key to delivering a great customer experience.
When we launched Shaping our Future, our resident engagement strategy, we heard from more than 3,000 residents and 350 colleagues about our services.
Here’s what they told us our top priorities should be:
We’re now testing out some new approaches to local surgeries in the Midlands involving our Housing, Income and Repairs teams. We’ll learn from these experiences to develop new approaches across the country.
We have created a Resident Advisory Panel, made of 12 residents, who can advise us when we develop future strategies and new ways of working.
We’re also doubling the number of Resident Members to four on our Group Housing Board, including the Chairs of both the Advisory and Scrutiny Panels.
We’re implementing more feedback opportunities across our services – starting with repairs, where we’ve already heard from more than 1,000 residents about their experiences.
This means we can deal with any outstanding issues quicker and spot patterns or trends which can help us continually improve.
Collaborating with students on climate change
In May 2023, Sanctuary Students ran its second Green Survey, aiming to build an understanding of customers’ wants and perceptions around sustainability. Almost 300 students responded to the survey, demonstrating how seriously our students want us to take decarbonisation and how much they care about our wider environmental impact. In fact, availability of recycling, being able to walk to campus, and having good public transport links were ranked as key sustainability influences when respondents were choosing where to live.
Positively, 80% of respondents said they knew how recycling worked where they lived. When asked about what would encourage them to recycle more, however, the highest ranked answers were improved signage and having a dedicated recycling area.
We also asked students about what they currently do, or what they are likely to do in the future, to reduce their carbon footprint:
> 95% of respondents said that they already switch off lights when leaving rooms, though only 72% turn off electrical items when not in use.
> 41% of respondents said that they want to recycle better (for example, cleaning and segregating materials), so there’s still work to be done at our accommodation sites. That said, many students are already reducing waste: 89% of respondents stated that they are already using travel cups and reusable bottles for drinks on the go.
We’re now building this customer feedback into our decarbonisation plan for Sanctuary Students.
Supporting our customers
We know our customers can face difficulties that can make it harder to pay rent and manage finances. We also recognise that - as a provider of housing and care services - we have the potential to support customers in ways that go beyond our day-to-day work.
Our tenancy support model is based on providing support to help customers stay financially secure in their home.
- We apply on behalf of our customers for a Discretionary Housing Payment, which is a Government fund allocated to each local authority
- We donate directly to the Energy Hardship Fund and support our customers to apply
- We team up with external agencies such as Citizens Advice, Age UK and the National Debtline
- We access specialist advice from regional support networks
- We ask our Resident Scrutiny Panel to identify other ways we can support customers experiencing fuel poverty
We’ve also introduced Community Connectors, many of whom have lived experience of homelessness, who support people facing challenges to make positive changes in their lives.
Our Community Connectors work with individuals to move past the social stigma of debt, and on to greater levels of financial security. They also help people to make positive changes with other challenges they may face in life.
New roles to build up communities
The Community Connectors will see us find out what really matters to our residents, what ‘neighbourhood’ means to them and what their interests and aspirations are.