Woonstad Rotterdam is the largest housing association in the region, with more than 50,000 homes, business premises and 120,000 customers.
Woonstad believes that every inhabitant of Rotterdam deserves a nice place to live and pays a lot of attention to its customers. The organization has strong ambitions: the current customer satisfaction rating is already high (a 7.7), but that must be at least a 9.
The housing association is continuously working to improve its customer service and internal work processes, but came to Flatland for help to quickly take bigger steps. Where can we really make a difference?
Sprint week with multidisciplinary team
Flatland organized and designed a sprint week: a multidisciplinary team from Woonstad locked themselves in Flatland’s office for five days. From Monday to Friday they worked in a pressure cooker on an extensive problem analysis, collecting new ideas, making responsible choices, designing a prototype and extensive testing.
The team consisted of employees from different departments: contractor, technical service, customer service, management. And during some parts of the week, other employees with different and additional expertise and competences were invited. Working together in co-creation for an integrated approach to a concrete problem.
Broken windows and doors
In the sprint week we tackled a common problem: broken windows and doors. A window does not close perfectly, a door is jammed or a lock is broken. A difficult process, because many internal parties are involved: the customer contact center, the technical office, maintenance and the contractor. And it’s a problem that residents who call Woonstad have to deal with the most.
How does the whole process go from first contact to solving the problem? What steps are being taken now, how do customers experience this and what can we improve? In other words: how can we organize the customer journey of the repair process in a contemporary and optimal way?
After a customer survey by Altuition and a presentation by Koos Service Design, many ideas for improvements emerged. These were categorized in three directions: technical, people-oriented and corporation-oriented. Which direction is most promising, on the scale between impact and effort?
Together we developed a clickable storyboard. For example, we mapped out the ideal process and had it tested by customers in advance, without having to carry it out completely. Visual thinking helped to achieve results quickly. This approach generates a huge amount of ideas, speeds up thinking and helps to summarize faster.
We wanted to redesign the customer process based on customer insights. One goal was to be as clear as possible at the front end of the trajectory. The intakes could be better and the real problem should be sharper. And customers benefit from honest information. Because people don’t mind waiting longer, as long as they know where they stand. So there is gain to be made in expectation management.
User validation essential: testing with own customers
The experience of the customers was the common thread of the sprint week. How urgent is something for a customer, how does he or she experience this? What is ‘ordinary work’ for a service employee, has a completely different emotional charge for the customers (the tenants). Because living is emotional: it’s about a feeling of being at home, about having your own place.
Assumptions are often made when a target group analysis or customer journey is made. But we wanted a real, realistic picture of the tenants, so they were brought in. A few tenants of Woonstad, who had once filed a complaint, were invited to join the conversation. (And this also showed that living has a great emotional charge, because there were even a few tears shed during the interview.) Prototyping the entire repair process turned out to be a great success, because that way you provide insight into the customer experience process in advance.
Everyone involved through an integrated approach
The improvements are supported by the entire organization, all departments. Because “if we work together, the quality will increase and the costs will decrease!”, says Robin van Koppen, head of the customer contact center. “Thanks to this integrated approach, everyone is involved and it is really supported by everyone!”, says Jenny Vermeeren, director at Woonstad.
Visual thinking strengthens and accelerates
Flatland’s Willem drawing constantly had many advantages: not only to support the conversations and to record the discussions, but it helps to summarize faster. A drawing explains much better what is being talked about, because so much information is hidden in one picture. And then we had something visual and tangible to test again later.
We had a tangible result in our hands every step of the way. All the drawings stayed in the room all week, so that we could see all the steps of thought. “You come up with a lot of ideas very quickly. An enormous amount of output has been generated!”, says Vermeeren.
The result? A new way of working that yielded an enormous amount of energy, a form of collaboration that ensured an integrated and widely supported approach and a work process that could be directly and concretely improved. The testing and validation by Woonstad customers was the greatest success: the improved customer journey can be applied immediately.
Often a lot of ideas are conceived, but now they were actually made concrete during this sprint week!
Tom van 't Westeinde
Want to know more about a sprint week? Or discover what we can do for your organization?
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