Richard was commissioned by a large national housing association to consider how customer behaviour could be influenced to enable individuals to become less dependent upon the state and more accountable for their own decisions, Richard led the research and development into a customer incentive scheme.


The project was scoped out in order to understand the organisational appetite for taking a commercial approach to the traditional landlord and tenant relationship. The organisation was keen to push the boundaries and take an innovative approach.


A discussion document was formulated following research and benchmarking within both the public and private sectors. The concept was approved by the strategic board and a project plan was created. A full consultation exercise was launched with customers and staff to understand the appetite for such a scheme, including working in partnership with a local University to research the likely co-dependencies of cause and effect for specific criteria. A scheme proposal was then produced, together with robust modelling, using the organisation's customer insight information to determine the likely effects of the scheme. This was mapped against the company's new ICT system, which was under development, in order to ensure that the scheme was as automated as possible.


Two pilot projects were established. The first was in partnership with a loyalty and rewards company which tested the customer appetite for the rewards on offer, particularly targeting those affected by the welfare reforms as part of a wider financial inclusion drive. The second involved tenants being removed from the kitchen replacement programme if they were breaching their tenancy agreement, specifically relating to non-compliance with rent arrears agreements.


Further developments were undertaken to incentivise first time access for gas servicing (aiming to eliminate the need for repeat visits or costly enforcement processes), "leave it clean" initiatives (to speed up and reduce costs on void processes), zero tolerance of abuse against staff and contractors (enabling staff and contractors to undertake routine works and visits). The organisation is considering extending the scheme to enable tenure movement, property MOTs and community incentives.




The pilot projects found that people benefitted greatly from the loyalty and reward offers. The second pilot saw a £30k reduction in rent arrears over a two month period within the small targeted group.


Benchmarked organisations found that influencing tenant behaviour through incentive schemes could make significant improvements to their cost base and resource deployment, for example:


  • Customers maintaining rent arrears agreements increased from 15% to 60%
  • 80% of customers responded positively to first time requests to maintain their gardens
  • Nudge theory proved that customer behaviours changed positively based upon the incentives that others in the community were receiving, (eg. kitchen replacements)
  • 40% increase in proactive contacts, enabling the redeployment of resources into hard to reach cases
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