Managing complaints through the rear-view mirror

The Housing Ombudsman’s report “spotlight on damp” found real resonance with our experience at ARK. 

Called in to review the situation in the London Borough of Croydon following ITVs first expose of the sector we found similar shortcomings and poor attitudes.

Nobody deliberately sets out to do a poor job, it happens through lack of time, information, communication, training, tools and materials. Failures are compounded by deficiencies in culture and attitude.

As owner of the process, it is incumbent upon the landlord to ensure all those involved in the repairs process have the time, processes, capacity, tools and attitude to do the job. That cannot be achieved through a few quality questions nor reliance on third party accreditation – ISO 9000/2000 simply confirm a system exists; not necessarily how good it is.

Mantras, inspection, badgering employees to do better or the introduction of ill-conceived incentive schemes when the culture and process themselves frustrate good performance will not produce a quality service for your residents. 

A complaints procedure which seeks to identify failures after the event is simply too late and impotent if the organisation fails to learn from it.

Good quality cost nothing – failure and rectification is expensive, reputationally damaging and sometimes injurious to health. 

There is no quick fix, regaining the respect and confidence of disillusioned residents must look beyond the complaints procedure and requires a systematic and structured rebuilding of the culture, systems and capacity of the organisation to deliver a quality service. 



Jerry Gilbert, director

One of the founders of ARK Consultancy, Jerry has more than 30 years’ experience in housing and considerable senior management experience in both the private and social sectors. He specialises in performance improvement and project delivery on complex regeneration and new build programmes.