Customer Satisfaction

Objectives, Measures and Indicators

Measures to Determine Customer Satisfaction

The Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) is one of our main key performance indicators that we use for determining and managing customer satisfaction. It is also relevant for Management Board remuneration (see chapter AR 2018, Our Service Promise, The CSI is determined at regular intervals by means of systematic customer surveys and reflects how our services are perceived and accepted by our customers (see Establishment in the Organization). The findings of the survey are included in our investment decisions and measurement planning processes.

The customer surveys cover:

  • overarching topics such as image, loyalty and overall satisfaction,
  • issue-specific feedback on customer service, maintenance and modernization measures,
  • feedback on repairs, residential buildings and external areas. 102-43, 102-44

Further customer satisfaction indicators include the vacancy rate, tenant fluctuation and the direct comments of tenants. Interviews conducted with tenants, e.g., service calls to ask new tenants about how happy they are with Vonovia, provide us with an additional source of feedback that aids internal quality assurance.

Our focus on personal contact with our tenants is one of our greatest strengths. This allows us to boost customer loyalty and satisfaction. We are therefore constantly working to improve our customer service, for instance, by optimizing communication between the central point of contact and our employees on site and monitoring the time it takes to process customer queries. We aim to reduce the average length of processing time further.

Measures to Increase Customer Satisfaction

As rents rise, so do tenants’ service expectations. Vonovia is not exempt from this change and is taking appropriate action – such as improving the quality of our ancillary expense billing. This is accompanied by an expansion of our online presence and the self-service functions on the customer platform. In 2019, we will launch an app for our tenants in order to reach another milestone in our service strategy. In the future, this will enable our customers to monitor the status of their personal queries and our services, for example. Customers will also be able to receive push notifications with information from Vonovia, pay online, book appointments and download documents.

In 2018, Vonovia took over customer service for our electricity customers. This service is now well established and gives us a better overview of our customers and their needs.

Value-add Offers

Add-on products and housing-related services, or Value-add offers as we call them, supplement our core service, rental, and also create added comfort and value for our customers. We are continually reviewing additional service approaches that could increase customer satisfaction and expand our portfolio whenever appropriate. Those areas that have already been established successfully largely include the caretaker organization, the craftsmen’s organization, the residential environment organization, multimedia services and metering services. In addition, we are currently expanding our offers to include energy supply and home automation.

Before services are added to our range of offers they must fulfil three conditions:

1. Provide added value

2. Be economical and affordable

3. Be suitable for standardization and implementation on a large scale

We can generate cost advantages for the benefit of our customers by providing offers that are subject to economies of scale. Examples include the bathroom, kitchen and security packages that we actively offer. 203-2

Energy Services Offers

We increase our customers’ flexibility through smart metering solutions that read water and heating consumption meters digitally. This also enables us to create ancillary expense bills faster. We intend to expand this service further in the coming years. In 2017, around 80,000 residential units used this service. In 2018, this figure was up to around 130,000.

We also continued to pursue the landlord-to-tenant electricity concept in 2018, as part of the decentralized energy supply concept, and installed additional photovoltaic plants (PV plants). As of December 31, 2018, we had a total of 208 PV plants in operation. Our numerous cogeneration units (CHP units) allow us to provide heating and hot potable water (see chapter Energy Efficiency and Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions). In 2019, we aim to expand our energy services and sales offers further.

Residential Environment Services

We provide a number of residential environment services through our caretakers, technicians and gardeners, such as caretaking services, cleaning work and maintenance of green spaces. This allows us to perform high-quality repairs and modernization measures quickly, and provide our customers with a well-maintained residential environment. We offer our older tenants smart home solutions with innovative assistance systems by cooperating with social institutions and care services. We also provide senior-friendly apartment conversions. Thanks to standardized processes and economies of scale, our tenants benefit from cost advantages when it comes to procurement.

For more information about our services, we refer to the Annual Report (see AR 2018, chapter Our Service Promise).

Management of Hardship Cases

The discussions surrounding modernization cost allocation have shown us that we have to communicate with customers more about their individual situations and the consequences of energy efficiency modernizations, and pay closer attention to their specific needs. We are thus currently in the process of expanding our hardship management work. Four employees in Bochum are responsible for initiating contact with customers once notification of hardship is received and for launching a preliminary review. They then pass the case on to one of 20 neighborhood managers who take responsibility for contact with these customers. In a private interview, the manager records the tenant’s situation in order to work on a solution together before the modernization work begins.

In personal hardship cases, for example, where the tenant is elderly or ill, Vonovia provides support during the construction work, including moving furniture and other objects or helping to move the tenant into a senior-friendly or barrier-free apartment. In economic hardship cases, for example, if tenants are no longer able to afford their rent following modernization due to low income, the neighborhood manager develops an individual solution, such as a gradual rent increase or a reduction of the modernization cost allocation for a certain period of time. A gradual increase in the rent enables the tenant to keep rental payments affordable over a longer period of time or, if necessary in the long term, to find a new home. In such cases, we work with the tenant to review the impact that different factors would have on the rent they pay; for example, if their financial situation were to improve due to a change in career.