Best practice to assess tenants’ needs from Valloire Habitat, France.
To provide excellent services to tenants, we need to properly understand their needs. Valloire Habitat (France) developed a study to better assess tenants’ needs and understand how they change at different life stages. This enabled Valloire Habitat to adapt services to maximise benefits for tenants.
Traditionally, we often rely on quantitative satisfaction surveys to assess the needs of our tenants. While this can provide important information to help us improve services, it is often limiting. Therefore, Valloire Habitat’s innovative strategy aimed to gain a deeper knowledge of what customers truly require and expect from their social housing provider.
What were the key elements of Valloire Habitat’s approach to assess tenants’ needs?
Valloire Habitat’s study examined ten different themes related to life components and a person’s personal trajectory. These themes did not relate directly to just housing. They also included important life aspects such as eating, health, and budget control. The study used different qualitative and quantitative methods including face to face conversation, focus groups, and online surveys.
By aiming to understand a person’s needs in life more broadly, Valloire Habitat could gain deeper insight into people’s concerns. Valloire Habitat could then evaluate how services can be designed to help people to thrive at different life stages, taking into account pain points and tipping points for each segment.
What were some of the key findings?
We often think about the different needs of our tenants in terms of their age. Valloire Habitat’s study demonstrated that this is not necessarily the most effective way of responding to people’s needs. Rather, it is more appropriate to think about customers’ needs in terms of their life path and the major life events they are experiencing.
As an example, people who are newcomers to housing may be experiencing their first ever home, having their first contact with a social housing provider, or moving due to a major life event. Thus, many newcomers will have specific needs. For example, they may feel additional stress due to tackling previously unknown issues and they may be (re-)experimenting with their autonomy.
Another example is those people who are more ‘settled.’ This is often the ‘silent majority’ and consists of different types of people who are living a stable life and are committed to their housing.
Understanding how people in different life stages experience different concerns, as well as those concerns that are common at all stages of life, is important in shaping services and how they are communicated to the target groups.