Award-winning strategy to reimagine the community housing experience

Providing a person with safe, stable, and affordable accommodation is life-changing.

Hume Community Housing exists to provide people with opportunities to prosper through access to affordable rental housing. Supporting more than 9,000 customers across NSW, once housed, Hume delivers stability and security with wrap-around support services that further contribute to well-being and helps reduce homelessness.

In response to rapid growth, a complete organisational redesign following the largest stock transfer of social housing properties in Australia and trends in their customer satisfaction results, Hume recognised an opportunity to have a bold rethink of how they deliver their services.  

How might we transform Hume’s service-delivery model to reimagine and redesign how Hume’s customers experience community housing?

Hume engaged ThinkPlace to co-design the future experience of customers and employees through the development of a Customer Experience Strategy.

Co-designing the Hume Community Housing Customer Experience Strategy received a prestigious Good Design Award Winner Accolade in the Design Strategy category in recognition for outstanding design and innovation.

The 2021 Good Design Awards attracted a record number of submissions with 933 design projects evaluated by more than 70 Australian and international Jurors, including designers, engineers, architects and thought leaders. Each entry was evaluated according to a strict set of design evaluation criteria which includes good design, design innovation and design impact. Projects recognised with an Australian Good Design Award demonstrate excellence in professional design and highlight the impact a design-led approach has on business success and social and environmental outcomes.

Our challenge was to consider how we might transform Hume’s service-delivery model to reimagine and redesign their customers’ experience of community housing.

The Good Design Awards Jury commented: “A good example of a regional community design strategy. The learning by doing approach is an excellent example of how design can move to the implementation phase and build the necessary capability to ensure the intent is executed. Great to see design strategy applied to affordable and dignified housing. It was particularly impressive to see Hume focus on CX – ensuring the CX strategy thought both about CX and internal measurement was excellent. A rigorous design strategy to evaluate via maturity and measurement – the Jury applauds this approach.”

Dr. Brandon Gien, CEO of Good Design Australia said: “Receiving an Australian Good Design Award is testament to embedding design excellence at the heart of a product, service, place or experience. Although 2021 continues to be another challenging year, it is incredibly inspiring to see designers and businesses working together to find innovative, customer-centric design solutions to local and global challenges and to see them recognised and rewarded for their efforts through these prestigious Awards.”

“The importance of embracing good design principles is now more important than ever as many businesses around the world have had to completely re-think their business strategies to remain competitive. The standard of design excellence represented in this year’s Awards is the best I’ve ever seen in my 25 years of running these Awards, an encouraging sign that the design sector is flourishing,” Dr. Gien went on to say.

The project took a human-centred approach to collaboratively design strategic, practical change with and for Hume customers and employees.

“We worked with ThinkPlace in 2020 to analyse 5 years of our Customer Survey data and identify the key influencers driving our customer satisfaction results.

The analysis they had completed ensured they already had a good understanding of our customer base and had identified opportunities for improvement,” said Christine, Customer Success & Service Improvement Manager at Hume.

“A context as complex as community housing often involves hearing deeply personal stories. This meant using talk time to its greatest values, focusing on the important points not side notes. We were able to democratise the process by allowing participants to have an equal say. This led us to draw out strong insights, themes and pain points across methods and identify opportunity areas for further exploration,” said Sarah Craig, Lead Designer at ThinkPlace.

Our research revealed the stigma associated with social housing and homelessness and how this shapes how customers see themselves, how they interact with Hume and the broader community and how they ask for help.

Building trust and capability within Hume, driving innovation and efficiency, and designing fit-for-purpose solutions was the mandate, along with empowering customers to make decisions and feel heard. Once implemented, the strategy will ultimately deliver a seamless, high-quality service experience akin to what renters in the private rental market enjoy.

Co-designing the Hume Community Housing Customer Experience Strategy’ Recognised in Australia’s International Good Design Awards for Design Excellence.

Analysis of the findings were developed into a visually compelling report including seven key themes and a series of personas and pathways that became the central artifacts for our customer focussed experience improvement efforts – providing an anchor for communicating and designing service improvements and new interactions.

“They introduced to our project team new ways of working, incorporating human centred design, agile working, user research, facilitation, rapid prototyping and visual and information design and usability testing.

I have no doubt that we will take the skills we learned and apply them to future projects at Hume,” Christine went on to say.


About Good Design Australia and the Australian Good Design Awards

Co-designing the Hume Community Housing Customer Experience Strategy’ Recognised in Australia’s International Good Design Awards for Design Excellence.

Good Design Australia is an international design promotion organisation responsible for managing Australia’s annual Good Design Awards and other signature design events. With a proud history that dates back to 1958, Good Design Australia remains committed to promoting the importance of design to business, industry, government and the general public and the critical role it plays in creating a better, safer and more prosperous world.