The Customer Inspectors are a group of customers who have been trained to inspect the way Stafford and Rural Homes (SARH) works and how we deliver services to customers.

They do this by interviewing and surveying customers, mystery shopping, holding focus groups, shadowing staff and through other techniques. The award-winning Customer Inspectors have been playing an integral role in the services that SARH deliver since they formed in 2008. Customer Inspectors  

Meet the SARH Customer Inspectors

All SARH Customer Inspectors kindly give their time voluntarily and without payment of any kind. Doug Faulkner has been a customer inspector at Stafford and Rural Homes since we first recruited them in 2008. He especially enjoys being able to help others though his work with us. Since then he has also become involved with various other areas of Stafford and Rural Homes. Mandie Howard was also amongst the original team of inspectors who have been very committed to the project ever since. Mandie has been involved with various other projects since then including the Neighbourhoods First Group which looks at ways to improve SARH’s services to neighbourhoods. Jessie Thomas is very committed to the customer inspectors team and has been since 2008. She not only played an integral part in the transfer from Stafford Borough Council but also continues to be involved with the inspectors, the Asset Management Team and her own local residents’ group. Jessie’s efforts were recognised when she received an award to thank her for her contributions to SARH and her own community. Annie Mellor joined as a customer inspector in 2012 and is enjoying finding out more about SARH and how we work.

The role of Customer Inspectors

Customer Inspectors look at the services SARH provide and make recommendations on how they could be improved, tailoring services to customer’s needs. They use various ways of looking at services: • Job shadowing – Working alongside staff to see the work processes they go through. • Interviewing – speaking to customers about their experiences of SARH services • Surveys – Asking customers for their views on the service • Visits – to properties to inspect standards of work carried out by SARH • Focus groups – small groups of staff and customers to look closely at certain areas of the business. • Mystery shopping – anonymously testing the quality of service by making telephone calls, writing letters, emails or visiting SARH premises.

Support available for Customer Inspectors

A training and support plan is delivered to ensure that each Customer Inspector has the skills they need to maximise their involvement. Training will cover such things as: • The role of customer inspectors • Inspection techniques and methods • Presentation and report writing • Confidentiality and code of conduct • Assertiveness and confidence building • Information Technology • Health and Safety

Key aims

• To involve customers in identifying improvements of our services • Provide a range of skills for the inspectors and the tools to do the job • Raise the profile of customer involvement • Build a stronger partnership between SARH and its customers.

What is inspected?

Customer Inspectors have the opportunity to inspect a wide variety of SARH services and can include: • Customer services Contact Centre – the first point of contact for telephone calls • Complaints procedure • Estate walkabouts where SARH staff and partners will join the community on the walks around estates to pick up any issues • Ready-to-let property inspections • Day-to-day repairs • Major investment (kitchens and bathrooms) • Sheltered Housing • Publications and website • Income management • Gas safety checks

Inspections delivered

The customer inspectors have inspected various areas of the business so far:

  • 2008 and 2011: Lettable Standard - The condition that a property should be in before you move in.
  • 2009 and 2012: The Responsive Repairs Service - What you receive when you report a non-emergency repair.
  • 2010: Aids and Adaptations - Alterations that can be made to a persons home to make living there easier for them if they have a special need or disability.
  • 2011: Estate Walkabouts - Regular tours around the estates that our Neighbourhood Services Officers make alongside customers and partner agencies like the Police and Staffordshire Highways
  • 2012: Asset Management – The Asset Management Team are responsible for monitoring, maintaining and developing SARH’s assets. As part of this inspection the Customer Inspectors looked at communication between SARH and it’s customers.
  • 2012: A recruitment drive for new Customer Inspectors took place.
  • 2013: Independent Living – Accommodation where customers can live independently with 24 hour support is needed.
  • 2014: Garden Assistance Scheme – Delivered in partnership with Age UK , SARH offer a free garden service to customers who meet the criteria for help.
  • 2015: Lettable Standard – This area was revisited from the 2008 and 2011 inspections.
  • 2016: Block Inspections – The Neighbourhood Services Team carry out regular Block Inspections ensuring that communal areas meet health and safety standards, and are kept clean and tidy.
  • 2017/18: SARH Telecare Service


Inspection reports

At the end of each inspection a report is produced that contains: • How the inspection was carried out • What the inspectors found • Recommendations for improvement Customer inspection reports are presented to the Stafford and Rural Homes Leadership Team (made up of the Chief Executive and the Directors of SARH) who then respond to the recommendations with information on when or how these will be implemented. Over time the recommendations that are accepted are put in place and the Customer Inspectors revisit those areas to make sure that things have actually improved as a result.



Become a Customer Inspector

We are always looking for new people to get involved and help us improve and the way we deliver our services!

If you are interested in becoming a Customer Inspector or would like more information please contact us on 0800 111 4554 or email and a member of staff will get back to you!

Top honours for SARH Customer Inspectors in the Excellence in Inspection and Mystery Shopping category at the National Customer Scrutiny Inspection Awards 2014.

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