Creating excellent customer experiences in South Wales

Bron Afon is a social enterprise that is a partnership between its members, Board and staff whose purpose is stated as:

To improve the quality of life and life chances of people living in Torfaen and neighbouring communities with a particular focus on those who face disadvantage.

Bron Afon was set up in 2008 when Torfaen Council tenants voted for Bron Afon to be their new landlord. Spending money in the local area means that they have already been able to bring extra benefits include creating and securing jobs, as well as making significant improvements in the services that they provide, all of which make a positive different to people’s lives. Approximately 500 staff and managers are currently employed by Bron Afon.

Since its creation, Bron Afon Community Housing has focussed on meeting the Welsh Housing Quality Standard, which it achieved in 2014 and it continues to do its best to meet housing demand. Providing excellent customer service, and putting customers at the heart of the business is a corporate priority.

Bron Afon Community Housing Limited chose t4c as their delivery partner to work with them to design and deliver a transformational customer service training programme in 2016. The aim of the programme was to create a shared understanding of what customer service excellence looks like at Bron Afon and explore how best to deliver this. It was an opportunity to reflect on the brand values and what these mean in practice, developing the skills and behaviours needed to deliver excellent customer experiences.

Over a period of 9 months, 36 training events were delivered to 490 managers and colleagues, and there is already evidence that the programme had had the positive impact on the Bron Afon customer experience that Bron Afon wanted.

88% of their customers surveyed in the 2016/17 Q2 transactional customer experience survey were satisfied with the attitude of the member of staff they dealt with, 76% were satisfied with the quality of advice given to them and 88% of customers were satisfied with the professionalism of the staff member they dealt with.

Specific data available from quarter two 2016/2017 demonstrates the following:

Our relationship with Bron Afon has continued. In 2019, as part of an organisational remodelling, Bron Afon managers were invited to attend an assessment centre. The outcomes of the assessment centre were recommendations for leadership appointments into the new structure.

One of the components of the assessment centre was a ‘live scenario’ activity involving an actor and 2 assessors. The assessors observed the interactions between the actor and the manager completing the activity.

train4change developed the assessment centre characterisation, scenario and scoring system in partnership with Bron Afon, and our team has supported Bron Afon in 6 separate assessment centres, including internal and external recruitment activities.

Laura Franco, Head of Organisational Development and Communications at Bron Afon said:

‘The scenario worked well and was as objective and fair as we could make it. Your idea of having a reflection stage at the end worked really well and threw up some surprises.

Owen was great – not just in terms of staying “in character” so that all the candidates were given the same information to work with, but also by giving them every opportunity to demonstrate the skills/behaviours we were looking for. In one particular case, the conversation could have ended within a few minutes, but by providing the candidate with a “hook” it enabled them to stay in the conversation.’