Council reject 'mystery shopper' for service assessment
Mystery shopping will not be used by Central Coast Council as a way to assess the quality of its service delivery.
The Council resolved at its December meeting not to use mystery shopping as a way to assess customer satisfaction with services such as Peninsula Leisure Centre, libraries, childcare centres or waste collection services.
In October, the Council asked for a report on areas to be assessed and the likely costs of market sampling and for a recommendation about whether to proceed with mystery shopping to assess the quality of Council's service delivery.
The report recommended against using mystery shopping and Councillors adopted that recommendation.
"Mystery shopping is a market research technique for measuring, and monitoring the interactions between a customer and an organisation during a pre-defined scenario," the council staff report said.
"Mystery shopping relies on observation and recall, and could be carried out on both a large and small scale across any area of Council," the report said.
"Often, the process involves a researcher (the mystery shopper) going incognito and reviewing the activities of staff, the venue environment, staff friendliness and knowledge.
"In some instances, the mystery shopper may also consider things such as the number of people in a queue, the number of counters open at a certain time, what items are on display etc.
"This means that mystery shoppers are not always 'shopping' but also experiencing a service or attending an event.
"This type of service can be procured through market research companies, mystery shopping providers, private investigators, training companies and advertising agencies.
"Council does not conduct any mystery shopping programs at present.
A Customer Experience Survey was completed last June.
"The results from the survey provide a very good insight into what our customers feel is important and their satisfaction ratings on a range of services and experiences.
"The data is used to develop service plans and action plans to improve the overall customer experience.
"The survey is the basis for the development of a Customer Experience Strategy which is currently underway and will include a Voice of the Customer (VoC) and Customer Journey Mapping programs.
"Both of these programs will be used to tell the story of a customer's journey from initial contact, through to engagement and longer-term relationship, understand the challenges or differences across all of our customer touchpoints and identify improvements and process.
"The strategy will include a vision, a customer charter outlining our service standards, data analytics, as well as an integrated approach to both employee and customer experience.
"This approach is well underway with linkages between the My Voice Survey and Customer Experience Survey and will provide actionable plans from each Business Unit to improve the customer experience, whilst engagement with the Leadership Team will ensure buy in for the strategy."
The staff report recommended that "Council continued to work towards an improved customer experience through development of the Customer Experience Strategy which includes continuing programs of surveys and complaints and feedback analysis and progresses the implementation of programs such as Voice of Customer and Customer Journey Mapping."
Central Coast Council agenda 5.7, 10 Dec 2018