David (70) from Rugby in Warwickshire has been an Orbit customer since 2010. A retired construction management consultant, he ran his own company for more than 10 years before becoming involved with voluntary community activities where he now chairs both his local village hall committee and allotment association.
David is a resident Orbit Housing Association Board member and chair of our newly established Customer Engagement Strategic Committee. Here, he answers a Q&A about his new role as committee chair and the benefits of being an engaged Orbit customer…
So, David, what exactly is the Customer Engagement Strategic Committee?
It is a new customer created and driven committee, formed to hold Orbit to account in delivering the requirements of Together with Tenants, a sector-wide initiative which focuses on strengthening the relationship between residents and housing association landlords, the Social Housing White Paper, which includes seven commitments that social housing residents should be able to expect from their landlord, as well as consumer standards, tenant satisfaction measures, and any other regulatory changes that come into force. The committee ensures that the customer voice is heard and listened to, whilst adding another layer of governance to the Orbit structure.
What changes are you trying to implement with the committee?
The committee was formed to oversee the Customer Engagement programme to ensure that Orbit’s activities are based on the voice of customers. One of our main priorities is the Social Housing Regulation Bill and the major changes coming once the bill is passed. We want to ensure that all areas of the business are aligned and working together on any changes which may affect customers. The committee will be holding the Customer Engagement team to account in delivering these requirements, and getting customers involved to challenge them as well.
How will the committee benefit customers?
The creation of this committee is a huge step forward for Orbit. The added level of governance and the fact that it is a customer created and led group is going to ensure our customers are heard. Although the committee is still in its early stages, we have big plans to shape a programme of works and link in with the relevant Orbit teams, especially around diversity, disability, the LGBTQ+ community, young people, and independent or supported living.
What motivated you to become an engaged Orbit customer?
I wanted to make a difference in my local community and also improve the wider customer journey for all Orbit residents. As an engaged customer, I’ve gained valuable insight into what matters most to customers and I’m now able to drive positive change from within. Being asked to chair such an important new vehicle fills me with pride and I now have the ability to network with external organisations and other housing associations to make a direct impact at Orbit.
And finally, can you tell us a bit about your Orbit experience?
Before the Customer Engagement Strategic Committee, there was little space for customers to challenge Orbit at a strategic level. The implementation of the committee was well received by the senior leadership team and the Board, which has exceeded my expectations, and we now have direct communication with them. We are also getting acceptance from teams across the organisation. As a social housing provider, Orbit has a real sense of purpose to help their tenants to thrive in their homes and communities. It’s not always easy to get things done in a big organisation, but to anyone who is considering becoming an engaged customer or joining the committee – come in with an open mind. Be patient, be truthful and be persistent!