The Return of Customer Profiling

Customer profiling has climbed housing providers’ list of priorities again recently after an apparent lull. More than ever, finances are tight in our sector and providers must be sure that resources are targeted where they will make the greatest impact. Painting a detailed picture of customers can help do that. From a purely commercial perspective, one of the most important parts of any business is to understand who your customers are. Every time you scan your loyalty card at the supermarket, the store is collecting information about you and what you like to buy. A twist on this ‘getting to know you’ approach can be put to good use in housing services.

The information gleaned from profiling a tenant base can be extremely valuable, not only in terms of where to focus resources and targeting support for customers in need, but in many other commercially beneficial ways. One of the findings from the soon-to-be-published fourth NHC Universal Credit Research report is that over two-thirds of respondents have or are planning to carry out a customer profiling exercise of their tenant base to determine those at risk of falling into arrears or of having difficulty paying their rent. This will help those organisation to pinpoint where claimant support should be targeted and thereby maximise rental income.

But how do you go about profiling your customers? There are valuable sources of guidance for carrying out profiling exercises but a single approach will not meet all requirements of every organisation. The desired outcomes of the project should determine how the organisation goes about collecting the intelligence required. Housing organisations’ resources are finite and there may already be valuable information on your systems perhaps from tenancy sign-up about household composition or disability, or from information collected since on vulnerable people. This may be all you need.

Some organisations embark on large-scale studies of their tenant base, commissioning external consultants to collect wide-ranging information to pinpoint certain tenant types and segment them based on demographic, behavioural or value-based characteristics.

There are many considerations when embarking on a customer profiling exercise and NHC will be holding a free member roundtable in York on Tuesday, 14th November where these considerations will be addressed using real-life examples. For more information and to book onto the event click here.