Homes and Customers
Customer Satisfaction and Service Quality
Customer satisfaction is a key factor in the success of a company. For residential real estate companies, this is especially linked to whether tenants feel comfortable in their apartments and residential environments, and whether they feel that they are treated fairly by their landlords. The quality of customer care and services plays an important role here. Our experience shows that accessibility, speed and transparency in service are decisive factors for meeting customer expectations.
Vonovia’s activities are centered around its customers and their needs. They expect a livable home at a fair price with modern living comforts. In this context, the greatest possible proximity to customers and convenient accessibility are key elements of our service philosophy, which we have enshrined in our 2019 Business Philosophy.
Our customer service team plays a particularly important role as the primary point of contact for our customers. Our customer service department’s main task is to provide fast and uncomplicated assistance and to support our customers in a wide variety of matters. More than 800 employees working in two service centers in Duisburg and Dresden are available to our customers through a variety of channels. By choosing these two locations, we also want to express our commitment to two of the large housing portfolios that Vonovia has – in Dresden and in the Ruhr region – and to provide jobs where they are needed.
Direct contact with our tenants and getting them involved, e.g., in community developments, are valuable opportunities for us to learn about their wants and make them a part of the decision-making process. On site, caretakers and our own craftsmen, for example, take care of our tenants’ concerns. This allows us to ensure a fast and reliable service and increase acceptance of our measures. We also conduct regular surveys to ascertain the wishes and needs of our customers. In 2020, we included the related Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) in the Sustainability Performance Index (SPI) as one of six non-financial performance indicators.
In addition to personal contact, the digitalization of customer concerns is an important field for us in order to make accessibility even faster, more convenient, and flexible. This is why we are continuing to expand self-service functions such as our “My Vonovia” customer app. Protecting the data and privacy of our customers is always our top priority, because this is the only way we can build trust.
Every Vonovia employee is called upon to actively contribute to improving customer satisfaction and to fulfilling the company’s service promise.
Responsibility for the customer service center lies with the CRO. On site, caretakers and our own craftsmen take care of our tenants’ concerns. While customer satisfaction is strategically assigned to the central customer service department, it affects all customer-facing operating departments and should be ensured by each and every Vonovia employee. Designing and controlling the customer app and the customer portal is also the responsibility of the customer service center.
In Austria, responsibility for customer satisfaction lies with the quality management team, who report the results of the customer surveys to the departments and to management on an ongoing basis and derive appropriate measures from this.
performance metric from 2021
Customer Satisfaction Index
Objectives and Measures
The goal of Vonovia is to increase customer satisfaction by continuously improving its services and products.
Customer satisfaction is expressed in the CSI, the Customer Satisfaction Index, and will flow into the SPI as a direct non-financial performance indicator from 2021. The CSI is collected via a quarterly survey, in which we ask customers about aspects such as image, loyalty and overall satisfaction, and collect feedback on customer care, maintenance and modernization measures, the residential building and outdoor facilities, and necessary repairs. The results are then analyzed by all of our operational departments. Measures are then derived based on customer feedback, implemented, and reviewed to further improve service quality. In 2020, the CSI for Germany was significantly higher in a year-on-year comparison.
Customer satisfaction index
higher than in the previous year
In Austria, we also use customer satisfaction surveys as a tool, primarily online for all new construction projects in Vienna and for 5–10% of the portfolio every year. The results are discussed directly with the departments in order to develop suggestions for improvement. Measures are always implemented using a feedback loop and include a report to management. We create transparency for our customers with regard to the results of these measures, e.g., by posting notices or allowing them to contact our community developers personally. Based on customer feedback and the optimization potential identified in the process of handling complaints, we also develop training courses for employees in Austria to enhance their skills in dealing with customers.
In Sweden, too, customer satisfaction is a fundamental benchmark for all business processes. The aim is to achieve ongoing positive development in the CSI. Indicators such as the vacancy rate and tenant fluctuation support our analyses in this regard.
To achieve our customer satisfaction target and to be able to offer our customers a transparent and fast service, we are continuously working on improving our customer service. This includes direct contact with tenants, expanding self-service functions in order to provide round-the-clock service and, in Austria, improving the website to include customer-relevant topics, and designing barrier-free customer communication.
We are also simultaneously working to further develop and improve our customer app. The app gives our tenants direct access to their ancillary expense bills and contract details, and allows them to submit repair reports online. We thereby strengthen the transparency of our actions and further expand our self-service offerings. We are also launching customer satisfaction surveys and individual surveys via the app in a targeted manner. In 2021, the app will also be expanded to include a new customer group – prospective tenants. They will then be able to search for an apartment, book a viewing appointment and arrange for the conclusion, and also conclude their lease agreement digitally. The customer app will also be expanded to include a dedicated energy section, which users can use to view data such as bills, bank details and budget payments for their gas and electricity contracts. Billing data as well as the amount of the monthly budget billing can be adjusted here and the meter reading can easily be transmitted digitally.
In addition to the customer app, the digital customer portal also offers extended availability and a full range of self-service functions that can be accessed around the clock. We have also initiated a pilot project to facilitate package delivery for our tenants. This pilot scheme involved setting up open-system digital parcel boxes in neighborhoods that can be accessed by major logistics companies as well as smaller delivery services.
Thanks to the already high level of digitalization in customer service, it was possible to quickly switch to remote working during the first lockdown in the spring of 2020, thereby maintaining accessibility at all times despite the pandemic. In addition to the day-to-day issues related to lease agreements as well as consumption and ancillary expense bills, our customer service department implemented numerous special offers for our customers during this period. For example, telephone campaigns were conducted to offer elderly tenants assistance with shopping or to organize meal deliveries.
Planned for 2021
- Maintaining the Customer Satisfaction Index at the previous year’s level
- Expanding the customer app to include the target group of people interested in apartments, and implementing an energy page for viewing electricity and gas contracts
- Ongoing support in customer communication by the community development team
- Developing and implementing a customer portal for owners and tenants in Austria
- Creating a knowledge database for employees to ensure even more competent and efficient customer service, and to increase customer satisfaction in Austria
- Conducting additional phone calls to elderly tenants to assist with the coronavirus pandemic by providing shopping services, cleaning services or other support services