The challenge

The Paradigm Housing Group knew that their shared ownership tenants were less satisfied than their affordable home renters, but they didn’t know why. They therefore approached CGA to help them identify the root issues and uncover opportunities to build a greater level of trust with their customers. 


The solution 

Keeping to a tight budget, we put together a lean proposal based around our Heartbeat® approach, delivering qualitative information through an online community that we engaged with over a number of weeks. This enabled us to understand tenants, their lives, their expectations, their frustrations and their needs, revealing the issues impacting the way they felt about their homes & Paradigm, as their housing provider. 


The results 

Through understanding the tenant perspective better, and empathising with their experience, we were able to deliver a level of insight that hadn’t previously been available. Using this we were able to make a series of informed recommendations to help make an immediate and long-term impact on customer satisfaction amongst shared ownership tenants within The Paradigm Housing Group. 

Working with CGA has been a fantastic experience... The team created that perfect balance of professionalism and friendliness so it really felt like we were working as a partnership. The deliverables ticked the boxes for breadth and depth, tactical and strategic – both very practical but also thought provoking... we would highly recommend them to others.

Helen OttoHead of Insight Improvement

In April 2023 the Regulator of Social Housing introduced new tenant satisfaction measures. This will see every social housing provider in the country measured by a new set of criteria, with their tenant ratings published publicly. The move takes the question of responsibility and customer care beyond what’s legally required and raises the question – what do you do as a social housing provider to build trust in a vulnerable space?


The challenge of shared ownership

Across the board, it has become apparent amongst social housing providers that those in shared ownership schemes are typically less satisfied than affordable home renters. However, the reasons are less well understood.

Recognising that their tenant satisfaction levels, particularly regarding shared ownership properties, was not where they wanted it to be, but unsure where the problem lay, The Paradigm Housing Group approached CGA to break the mould.

Seeking to understand their customers better, they wanted to find opportunities to improve the experiences of their shared ownership tenants and uncover opportunities to build a greater level of trust.


Understanding tenants better

Budgets were tight, but the mindset amongst the team was proactive and willing, determined to create quick as well as long-term outcomes that supported tenants and their experiences with the Paradigm Housing Group.

To be as streamlined as possible, we put together a lean proposal based around our Heartbeat® approach, delivering qualitative information through the development of an online community, which we engaged with over a number of weeks. During that time we set a series of tasks and activities, asking tenants about their lives, their expectations, their frustrations and their needs.


Stepping into the customer’s shoes

What quickly became apparent was that the term ‘shared ownership’ is itself deeply problematic and in many ways misleading. This has led to differences in how tenants and providers interpret the relationship and their respective responsibilities, which in turn results in high levels of distrust and disillusionment. While tenants expected shared ownership to also mean shared responsibility, they felt that the reality was one where they themselves shouldered all the responsibility for the property.

Ultimately, this foundation issue contributed to an inherent sense amongst customers of not feeling ‘safe’ in this highly personal, emotive and often anxiety-making space impacting their home, their finances and their wellbeing. Customers needed to feel valued by the housing provider and in control of their home and finances, where often they felt vulnerable through unclear information, a lack of communication and confusing figures.

On top of frustrations relating to repairs and property functionality, they felt they were left open to rising prices that they often didn’t understand, having been inconsistently communicated using complex formulas and a lack of suitable guidance.



The insights were eye opening and helpful to the Paradigm Housing Group, who instantly felt better informed by understanding the individual and collective circumstances of tenants.

Information ranged from the level of anxiety that customers felt about their circumstances to specifics such as the number of people who had personal challenges that might impact their understanding of information presented to them. This began a journey to reconsidering how Paradigm might relate to and communicate with customers better and more empathetically.

Three areas stood out to be addressed:

  • The language used in written and verbal communications
  • The ease of communication when tenants have questions or concerns
  • The timeliness of communication and responses

All of this came together in a holistic approach that marked a mindset shift within the Paradigm Housing Group towards delivering care standards and not simply service levels.


A shift in language

While the terminology around ‘shared ownership’ could not be changed as it’s a Government titled scheme, what could be addressed was the way in which the Paradigm Housing Group communicated with and explained information to its shared ownership tenants. For example, instead of presenting new homeowners with a vast manual about the house when they moved in, often wrapped up in legal jargon and complex mathematical formulas, we coached and supported the team in making a shift to more customer-friendly language and approach.


Ease of access

Making it easier for customers to speak to someone when they have an issue, rather than waiting several days for a response was a clear area of frustration. Tenants wanted someone to be available to talk through challenges that they might be facing and help them resolve issues. The emotional impact of struggling to get support with practical difficulties in the property or the tenant’s understanding of information such as rising costs, as well as something of a ‘computer says no’ response when they did speak to someone, only served to further their sense of distrust. We highlighted the need to address the speed of responses as well as the language and levels of understanding within the team when communicating with tenants, with a focus on helpful resolutions.

Timely communication

The question of rising rent in shared homes was a particular area of upset for tenants. What had begun as an affordable option for them when they first moved into their home had often become very challenging, and communication around costs had made the situation worse. Tenants often felt that these rises were communicated unclearly or without reasonable warning. Much of the challenge related back to the problem with language – information was intermittently buried in large documents, in complex formulas, or presented inconsistently so as to make it difficult to understand. We highlighted to the group the need for clarity and greater lead times on such communications. In particular, we noted the need to work with tenants right from the beginning of their relationship, so they understood what the possibilities were around rent rises and any other fees better from day one, giving reasonable notice, and providing support where tenants needed it, in order to manage potential price rises.


Making a real difference

The Paradigm Housing Group came to us with an open mind, eager to improve the experiences and satisfaction levels of their tenants, but aware that they didn’t know where the problem lay. Much of our work with the team was about helping them to step into the tenants’ shoes, understand their experiences, and see the situation through an empathetic, human lens rather than a purely transactional one. Through actionable suggestions combined with internal team coaching, we were able to set them on a path to making changes that would have both an immediate and long-term impact.

Paradigm came to this research with exactly the right attitude - they knew there was a problem but they didn't know where it was or how to address it. Their focus was on making things better in a deeply emotive space. The research identified customers’ key drivers and emotional needs, a depth of insight that hadn’t previously been available into why satisfaction was low amongst shared owners. Critically, Paradigm has been able to use this insight to identify root causes of issues and address them accordingly.

Carla HallChief Delivery Officer, CGA

We love talking all things customer and employee experience. If you’d like to understand how we can navigate your business through this world, get in touch.

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