A career in housing is a rollercoaster for Danielle

I joined Pobl at the start of February this year and it’s definitely been a rollercoaster start to a new job, with several storms impacting our customers in February and the current Covid-19 pandemic.

Whilst my background is customer involvement, the housing sector was completely new to me when I joined, having spent the last few years as the Customer Engagement Manager for Welsh Water. On the surface, the two organisations appear very different, but both organisations are not-for-profit and focus on delivering a great service to their customers which has definitely helped the transition into a new sector.

It’s been a really exciting time to join the organisation as we prepare to merge three housing associations into one, to become Pobl on 1 July. There are a lot of changes to get involved, with anything from creating new policies to expanding our digital services.

Day-to-day, my role gives me an opportunity to listen to customer feedback and make sure this is heard within the business, enabling us to improve the way we work. Managing the customer engagement team, our contact centres and complaints team brings a unique mix of customer feedback into the organisation and making sure the customer voice is heard is something I’m really passionate about.  

The pandemic has definitely changed how we work, with many changes as a result of the restrictions being positive for the business. We all quickly moved to working from home, a particularly big change for the two contact centre teams who had always been office based, in Newport and Swansea. Working with our IT team and phone system provider, we enabled the teams who primarily deal with customer queries over the phone to continue this essential work from home.

It was amazing to see how quickly the teams adapted to this new way of working. Previously, the two teams had worked quite separately and hadn’t met each other. Whilst the teams still haven’t met in person, they have all got to know one another over Microsoft Teams and have been helping each other out which has been brilliant to watch.

It has also pushed us to look at our customer engagement approach and look for new ways to involve customers in the changes that are taking place. When I joined Pobl I was keen to expand our digital engagement with customers but didn’t anticipate that we would be able to get some of it up and running so soon. We’re looking at how we can move some of the more traditional approaches, such as focus groups, online to allow us to involve a range of our customers. It’s also important for us to consider those who don’t have access to digital services too to make sure we can involve their views also.

I’m not sure if I’ve had a typical day at Pobl so far, given all the events that have taken place since I joined the organisation! However, something that has been consistent each day is that the teams I manage and work with are passionate about creating great communities for people to live in and support our customers in a way that is most suitable for them. Pobl prides itself on being considerate, connected and making a difference to our customer’s lives and we are certainly doing that during unprecedented times. I’m looking forward to doing more of that, particularly when we come out on the other side of the lockdown as one organisation, with a clear understanding of what our customers want from us and how to deliver those services in what will almost be a brave, new world!

Danielle is the Customer Experience Manager for Pobl