How might we find a better balance between planned and unplanned repairs?



This was the final discovery session that we based around the 10 ‘how might we’ questions that make up our current exploration pipeline.

Working out loud is one of our Lab guiding principles and we are really keen to share both our colleagues work and their ideas. We have been sharing the high-level themes which emerged from each session, rather than waiting for them to be worked up into something more substantial. The next steps will now be for Innovation and Insight to work up some solid test plans based on what we have learned and we will, of course, be sharing more about those in due course.

Workshop Summary

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The output from previous service design work formed the starting point.

We have a belief that prevention is better than cure, but what is this belief based upon? Are we really spending too much on the cure? We don’t always feel like we are in control because our repairs data hasn’t told us enough. We think we need cost savings, but how do we know if we are spending too much on repairs? How much is too much? 

Some questions that we would like to explore include:

  • How many repairs are actually preventable?
  • Is the purpose of this work to improve business processes (save money) or customer experience?
  • Are we already as planned as we can be?
  • Is our repairs service flexible enough?

This service area requires a significant amount of exploration and links closely with some of the other discovery sessions. Moving to a truly proactive servicing model requires a much better understanding of the way the customers uses the home.

Locality Teams own the relationship with the customer and therefore the link with this service area; the joint commissioning of customer/home outcomes is crucial. The objective is to deliver a coaching approach that encourages customers to do more for themselves and each other. This, in turn, should reduce demand on reactive services and switch investment towards value creating proactive activities.

The localities approach is not a 9-5 model. Coaching is delivered according to what works for the customer - other service offerings must consider this.

We wish to introduce elements of bespoke service to support the relationship. Accordingly, our model will introduce a limited range of service offers based on three factors:    

  • The Home (age, condition, size)
  • Customer profile 
  • Customer aspiration

During the workshop, we asked colleagues to choose a picture from a random selection of images in order to help us all visualise the important factors at play. We wanted to create some left brain/right brain inspirational pairings which could take us out of our current sphere of reference and help us start to think analogously about a problem.

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During the conversation that followed some key fundamental principles emerged and colleagues were keen for us to test ways to bring each principle to life:

Fundimentals - How might we find a better balance between planned and unplanned repairs (1).png

In all, colleagues identified 4 main areas to focus on:


If customers spot an issue or a potential issue they should be encouraged to contact us rather than feel like they are being a nuisance. We want to encourage customers to be proactive in order to prevent their home failing them.

What if we rewarded those customers who improve our assets for us, for example fitting their own bathrooms or kitchens? Our objective is to deliver a coaching approach that encourages customers to do more for themselves, so incentives could be a tool to help us achieve this. 


What if our homes were smart enough to tell us what was wrong with them and we could react automatically based on what they were telling us? 

What if we were simply better at listening to customers and were able to identify what the real issues were rather than focusing on providing superfast ‘sticking plaster’ solutions? It isn’t always about what customers are telling us, sometimes it’s more about what they aren’t. What if we were better equipped to spot these non-obvious signals?


A bathroom or Kitchen is often only as good as its weakest component. We say that a bathroom has a lifespan of 30 years, but many of the component parts don’t.

What if we were more proactive around doing jobs which addressed the issues with component parts i.e. replacing showers, fans and even re-grouting / replacing tiles in a planned work schedule?


Although customers have varying levels of skill, will and confidence the majority are prepared to look after their homes.

What if we charged customers who wanted to do less a little more for their repairs service and a little less for customers who do more? As a bare minimum, we will ensure that we provide the basic, legal requirements as a Landlord, the rest would be up to what level of service the customer wanted us to provide.  

Some of the 'wild ideas' suggested by colleagues included:

  • What if we financially reward customers when they improve our asset (i.e. if they fit a new kitchen)?
  • What if we build completely smart homes and operate a remote repairs service?
  • What if we forgot about planned works and moved to a 100% reactive model?
  • What if we planned our work around emerging trends?

We will be working with colleagues in the coming weeks to look at developing some tests. A key priority will be understanding whether when we say moving to ‘planned’ we actually mean ‘being proactive’ and also getting to know our customers better including understanding what motivates them and what they value. The Lab will continue to explore these questions alongside developing a set of customer personas to help us move away from one size fits no one services.


@simon_penny & @ChelleKButler