Strengthening links with customers – the role of the MRC

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As the social housing sector works to strengthen collaboration between residents and landlords and new statutory powers are introduced for the Regulator of Social Housing, housing providers are looking more closely at how we can improve the way we work with our customers.

Central to improving external customer relationships is how we drive a positive complaint handling culture internally.

The importance of how we manage complaints is demonstrated through the role of the Housing Ombudsman and the strengthening of the Complaint Handling Code which will become a legal requirement from April 2024.   

The Code has provided guidance and best practice on how the housing sector handles complaints since its introduction in 2020. A key requirement of the Code is to have a named person as the ‘Member Responsible for Complaints’ or MRC.  While lots of organisations like ours have MRCs in place already, this too will become a statutory requirement from April next year. 

A Member Responsible for Complaints (MRC) is a member of the housing organisation’s governing body or Board, who is responsible for assuring the effectiveness of the customer complaints system.  The MRC’s role is to challenge the data and information provided to the Board and champion a positive approach to feedback.  The Ombudsman expects that the MRC should be responsible for ensuring that complaint handling drives service improvement for residents, learning opportunities for staff, and more effective ways of working for the organisation. 

Regenda Group Board Member John Wood has been our designated MRC since 2022.  John’s extensive career in social housing and passion for making sure customers’ needs and opinions are heard and acted upon, has helped Regenda shape our customer-centric culture and values. At Regenda we are open to complaints and see them as an opportunity to make things right, better our services, and understand what’s important to our customers.

We spoke to John to understand more about his role as an MRC, and how we can build on the foundations of what we have in place already, to meet the requirements of the Regulator and Ombudsman and strengthen our relationship with customers. 

How do you think the role of MRC’s will add value to residents and organisations? 

I believe the introduction of Members Responsible for Complaints will help provide an unfiltered source of insight into our approach to feedback. My role as MRC is to make sure the team at Regenda are working on what matters to our customers. 

How will the role of MRC’s fit with the upcoming regulation changes? 

The Social Housing Regulator and the Housing Ombudsman are taking a joined-up approach. This is evident within the new Tenant Satisfaction Measures and the Transparency, Influence and Accountability standard of the new Consumer standards, which asks providers to ensure complaints are addressed fairly, effectively, and promptly.

I’m working with my colleagues at Regenda together with our Resident Voice Panel to understand how the organisation meets these requirements today, and how we can reinforce what we have in place so we can improve future outcomes for customers.

There are lots of demands on the sector right now, with the cost-of-living crisis and housing waiting lists likely to increase, what support can providers and their MRC’s access to ensure we meet the new requirements?   

I feel that while there is more of an emphasis on legislation and evidence of compliance, there is also a general feeling of support and encouragement to be better.

The Ombudsman, for example, has set up an online ‘Centre for Learning’ and the Regulator is encouraging managers to become professionally qualified. So it is clear more is being done to ensure the sector is equipped with the skills and knowledge it needs to deliver for customers. 

At Regenda, we believe that listening and collaborating with our customers will make us better. After all, that’s what we all come to work to do – create opportunities for people and regenerating the places where they live and I think MRC’s can play a role in helping to achieve that.   

For more information about what support is in place to meet the Ombudsman’s requirements, visit the Centre for Learning here:

For support on achieving housing qualifications and training for customer-facing staff visit:   

Regenda welcomes all feedback, for more information about our complaints process please visit:

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