In markets that are increasingly demanding and competitive, organisations need to know what their customers, partners, funders, regulators and peers think of them. This is particularly true in the affordable housing sector, where opportunities to build new homes or provide high-quality support and care depend on stable, trusting relationships.
This is why many clients ask us to design and carry out periodic stakeholder surveys and other research to collect powerful insight about what they’re doing well and how they need to improve. These commissions reach right into the purpose of an organisation – why it exists, who its key stakeholders are and what it aims to achieve. This is always our starting point for this kind of work – what we discover and report back has to relate directly to the client’s vision, mission and values, with clear recommendations for change.
Once we’ve pinned down and agreed the survey objectives and parameters with a client we help them to identify a list of principal contacts who are willing to give honest, unfiltered feedback. Depending on the size of the organisation, this can be anything from a dozen stakeholders up to 50.
We prepare and agree a comprehensive list of questions and then contact, interviewees by online video, phone or digital survey. Confidential, one-to-one conversations give the opportunity to test nuances that might otherwise be missed, while online surveys help to reach wider audiences. We keep everything people tell us anonymous, and turn it into a detailed research report including plenty of verbatim quotes that pack a punch. For most clients we also present our findings to the board or governing body in person or online.
There’s no value in telling anything but the truth, so we take a robust, ‘warts and all’ approach to reflect back what we’ve heard, with our suggestions on how the client should respond. Issues commonly raised by interviewees range from practical things like the need for better engagement through to strategic curveballs that prompt fresh thinking. We often find that people are more willing to talk about topics like these to an expert, independent business. And it then becomes our job to pass on views and opinions in a way the client can understand and respond to.
As well as giving organisations the sort of fine-grain intelligence they need about how they come across and go about their business, stakeholder research creates strong networking opportunities. The relationships we’ve built up from doing this kind of work have enabled us to make influential connections between clients, and also created new business for them and us.
Clients who’ve benefitted from this support include Orbit, Futures Housing Group, emh Housing Group, Longhurst Housing Group, Citizen, Connect Housing, Trent & Dove Housing, whg, Eastlight Community Homes, Calico Group and Radius Housing, ARK Consultancy, Campbell Tickell, Savills and Seddon.