November 2016

Celebrating our clients...

VU Celebrates 100 years of great customer service

Victoria University (VU) has had a longstanding working relationship with CSBA since 2009 and was an early adopter of CSBA’s customer service standards across their traditional student service centre and contact centre teams.

After 3 years of making transformational improvement in customer service, VU wanted to make a step change to customer experience by integrating their customer service framework with more service areas including student administration and systems. They also wanted to ensure they were employing the most contemporary service mindset to be reflective of their aspirational brand positioning and approached CSBA to help them on their journey. CSBA introduced them to their newly developed Omni channel methodology: The Consultative CX framework.

The CX framework is designed to tap into the increasing importance emotion is playing in the world of differentiated customer experience.  Historically – good customer service was about speed and accuracy but the move to increasing “self service” has meant the focus needed to shift. Research is showing that customers who seek help now want more than a solution – they want their agent to have empathy with them – a relationship with them of sorts.

CSBA worked with a broad cross section of the Student Services team at VU to enhance their Customer Service Framework, renew their service standards with a consultative approach and redevelop their Quality Assurance feedback model to embed the new customer experience philosophy.  Called “Project Ignite” CSBA worked with more than 40 leaders and front line staff in Student Services to co create the new “customer service is everyone’s responsibility” ethos.

Project Champions volunteered from 9 different service teams to help gain alignment across teams, build capability and road test that the standards could be uniformly applied to any interaction over any channel or any customer need. The Student Services team also redeveloped their Customer Service Framework with a new view on customers that extended beyond students to including staff, parents, suppliers and community influencers.

At a recent celebratory morning tea hosted by the Project Ignite Owner Naomi Dempsey (Director of Customer Service and Student Communication) CSBA presented two awards to the Champions; Cam Luong and Marlene Molina.


Image from left to right: Registrar Student Services and Institutional Planning & Performance, Teresa Tjia, CSBA Customer Service Trainer and Project Manager, Pier Dartnell, VU Student Services Admissions and Enrolments “Champions of Champions” Marlene Molina and Cam Luong, CSBA CX Director Michelle O’Donoghue

These two worthy recipients were acknowledged for their creative application of the ideas learned during their framework development workshops, their disciplined commitment to meeting attendance and “homework”, their infectious enthusiasm and their willing adoption of new skills.  They are now truly customer experience evangelists at VU and will play a vital role in continuing to foster commitment and improvement across the broader team.

At the morning tea all project champions and their line managers were recognised by Naomi and Registrar of Student Services, Teresa Tjia for their efforts, patience and commitment.


CSBA congratulates cleint Link Housing on their ‘mystery shopper’ program which was successful in winning the ‘Customer Service Project of the Year’ at the recent Customer Services Institute’s Australian Service Excellence Awards.

The awards are important recognition of the innovation of Australia's most outstanding customer service driven organisations and individuals. It is wonderful to see a community housing provider take the top accolade for the first time.

Andrew McAnulty, Link Housing CEO, said, ‘This is an awesome initiative in partnership with NSW FACS which has generated training and jobs for tenants with a focus on improved customer service. This is the first project in Australia that utilises their own tenants to mystery shop the services of their housing provider’

Link Housing describes the drivers of its customer service strategy as leadership, innovation and a customer-centric approach to all its services and operations. Delivered in collaboration with NSW Department of Family and Community Services, the ‘mystery shopper’ program involved tenants assessing and reviewing the effectiveness of processes and customer satisfaction. The program has gained some tenants long-term employment and motivated others towards further education.

Lance Carden, NSW FACS Director Customer Service and Business Improvement, said, ‘the collaboration between FACS, Link Housing and our tenants has been driven by a desire to create real tenant engagement and long-term service improvements.’

 Link Housing is one of the oldest not-for-profit community housing providers in NSW and manages approximately 1,400 homes with over 2,500 customers across Northern Sydney. They work with clients along every step of the journey, from placing tenants into their new home all the way through to managing sustainable tenancy outcomes.
The customer - centric approach Link have applied across all services and operations has made this program successful and we are proud to work alongside Link and  the NSW Department of Family Services and Community team.

Lance Carden, Director and Rebecca Huntsman, Senior Project Officer, at FACS Housing said the following about their relationship with CSBA.

 “Over recent years, FACS Housing has worked closely with CSBA to improve customer experience for FACS Housing tenants. When FACS Housing and CSBA presented a case study on business improvements from our CSBA Service Quality Benchmarking program at the National Housing Conference, we set a challenging goal to involve our customers (tenants) in future service quality assessments. FACS Housing and CSBA then set about designing an innovative program which involved CSBA recruiting, training and employing tenants to provide feedback on their experience during interactions with FACS Housing.

David and the CSBA team were highly committed and flexible in developing and implementing the program, which provided FACS Housing with unique insights into tenant experience and perceptions about FACS Housing. We look forward to conducting similar customer experience improvement programs with CSBA in the future”



Image from left to right: Link Housing's Michael Bolton, Michael Bacon, Kathleen Cain, Lance Carden, Rebecca Huntsman, Jennifer Khamis and Dr Sven Tuzovic at the awards ceremony

CSBA Index
Quarter 1, 2016-17

2. Argyle Community Housing
Town of Mosman Park
Homes North Community Housing
5. GWM Water
6. Blacktown City Council
University of Western Australia
8. City of Monash
9. Colonial First State Super
10. Australian National University
1. Automotive Volkswagen
2. Banks - General Commonwealth Bank
3. Banks - Loans ANZ Bank Home Loans
4. Energy Energy Australia
5. Housing Services Argyle Community Housing
6. Insurance AAMI
7. Local Government Town of Mosman Park
8. Superannuation Colonial First State First Choice Superannuation Trust
9. TAFE TAFE Riverina
10. Telecommunications  Virgin Mobile
11. Tenancy Authority VIC Residential Tenancy Bond Authority
12. University University of Western Australia
13. Water GWM Water

If you are assessing or reviewing your customer service to monitor and improve performance, CSBA's quarterly customer service benchmarking assessment can provide an independent validation of your internal assessment of the customer experience as well as benchmarking you against others. It generates specific, objective feedback you can use to reward and reinforce great performance as well as practical insights you can implement  to improve the customer experience. Enrolments for the next quarter are open now so if your team could your team benefit from external feedback, contact CSBA to find out.

Upcoming Events & Programs

For more information or to view all of CSBA's events, click here.

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August 2016

Focus on our people...

We thought it might be interesting to check in with one of the senior members of the field team and share the art of phone based Market Research from his perspective.  Bill joined CSBA 3 years ago and enjoys: the ability to choose his shifts, swap between Mystery shopping and Cussat Interviewing and working across a broad range of industries.  In his former life Bill was a councilman for the City of Melbourne and before that he was a secondary school teacher.  He draws on his life experience to relate to his interview respondents.
(Editor’s note: We can’t help thinking his time in politics and public service prepared him well for the art of deception required in mystery shopping…..)

Background – how did you come to be involved in Market Research work?
I was at an event in the Melbourne Town Hall run by council.  I saw Paul Van Veenendaal speak about the importance of customer service and benchmarking.  That’s the first time I ever heard about the concept of mystery shopping.

What is stimulating about your work here? Best part of the day?worst?
Oh – being paid to lie is pretty interesting (Editor’s note: we prefer to call it pretending rather than lying)

Image:Some of the other talented callers in the CSBA field team

In any given day you move between Mystery Shopping and Customer Satisfaction Interviewing –what do you prefer and why?
I like them both but they really are very different.  In the cussat interviewing you really get to form a quite intimate relationship with the respondent – in some cases I’ve been privy to some very heartwarming stories – and sometimes you hear about some real hardship.  In mystery shopping I find it a real challenge to move between being a prospective university student trying to ask some enrolment questions through to a prospective car buyer – checking on the inclusions in my potential car warranty…..

What’s the hardest Mystery Shopping scenario you’ve had to act out – do you feel you’ve ever been detected?
I’ve never been told I was detected but I did once have a lovely service agent at a council in rural WA say “Gee – someone else called me about our getty opening hours a few weeks ago, Quick as a flash I said “Yes -there’s a boat show coming next month!”

To what do you attribute your very high strike rates in cussat? Empathy – voice….
Well – I think the key is to take my lead from the caller – if they are busy but generously agree to participate I am pretty quick and efficient….if I detect the caller is up for a chat, or needs a slower voice to be able to understand the question – I slow right down.  I find people are happy to participate if I manage their expectations properly up front.  They tend to be very comfortable hearing my mature, Australian accent too I think.

The most interesting answer you’ve had to a survey?
Oooh…that’s a hard one…..earlier this year I participated in a very interesting medically oriented study.  We were given a fantastic briefing before the field work commenced so we were really well prepared and were able to have a lot of empathy with the participants.  I was blown away by the loyalty those customers had for their supplier.

Which topics do you find respondents most comfortable talking about?
When offered a chance to discuss or register a complaint – there are some participants that are off and running…its very hard to keep up with what they’re saying sometimes….we often find in employee engagement surveys they feel free to let loose with authentic, deeply felt views that might not have confidence sharing in any other forums.

Australians are famous for being “lower scorers” on average = do you find a differences in levels of comfort awarding higher scores across races/ages/genders?
Do you know – I have not noticed that.  I have people prepared to give 0s and 1s and I have people prepared to give 9s and 10s….i more often have people who are reluctant to give a score at all and who instead run off and try to give me a long explanation about their view….when all I really need is a score….

When you’ve asked the same survey question 40 times in a day – how do you keep an interest in the response?
Everyone is different, truthfully. I am genuinely interested in people – they are fascinating.  In my previous life I canvassed opinions all the time – it is great to be in a role now that rewards my nosiness (Editors note: We prefer to call it Curiosity).

How do you confirm your accuracy?
I often have to listen back to the recording to ensure I have captured what the respondents said – I’m getting long in the tooth and my typing is not fast enough with the fast chatters.  In mystery shopping – I need to keep the scenario believable so I cant be worried about writing down what they are saying or they’d be long pauses and so on….it is a bit of an art.

What market research rules do you find the most challenging to observe (eg not leading the answer, not correcting grammar when recording verbatims…)
I can say it is an absolute pain to have to say the privacy statement at the end of every interview….I know we have to do it and I do know of some respondents who actually do choose to read the privacy policy and request their info etc…so I always do it – but it drives me a bit spare!


Image: Bill out and about in Melbourne

Effective Complaint Management

All organisations receive customer complaints from time to time, no matter how well they manage their businesses. While some complaints may not be justified, all complaints represent a great opportunity to learn, make improvements and create a positive customer experience. Not taking customer complaints seriously and not having a strategy to address them can have a considerable negative effect on business.
Effective Complaint Management starts with three key components:

Effective Complaint Management

Janine Mitchell, our Local Government Training Specialist, has developed the Assertive Complaint Handling for Local Government program and will be delivering this throughout October and November in South Australia and Queensland. We look forward to the success of the program and assisting councils improve in this area so mark the dates outlined below in your diary, for more information please contact us to discuss further.



CSBA Index
Quarter 4, 2015-16

1. Strathbogie Shire Council
2. GWM Water
3. North East Water
4. Hobart City Council
Wannon Water
6. Eurobodalla Shire Council
TAFE Riverina
Blacktown City Council
City of Parramatta
1. Automotive Holden
2. Banks - General ING Direct
3. Banks - Loans ING Direct Home Loans
4. Energy ActewAGL Energy
5. Housing Services QLD Housing
6. Insurance AAMI
7. Local Government Strathbogie Shire Council
8. Superannuation Colonial First State First Choice Superannuation Trust
9. TAFE TAFE Riverina
10. Telecommunications TPG Mobile
11. Tenancy Authority VIC Residential Tenancy Bond Authority
12. University ANU
13. Water GWM Water

CSBA's quarterly customer service benchmarking assessment is an independent source you can use to validate your internal assessments  regarding the experience your agents provide your customers.  It generates specific, objective feedback you can use to reward and reinforce great performance as well as some truly actionable improvements you may wish to make at a team or individual level.  Enrolments for the 2nd quarter of the year are open now.  Could your team benefit from some additional feedback?  Contact CSBA to find out more.

Upcoming Events & Programs

For more information or to view all of CSBA's events, click here.

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May 2016

Customer Experience, Customer Satisfaction and Customer Engagement: What's the difference and what's driving the meteoric rise of customer focus in the boardroom ?

Customer Engagement can be described as a customer’s direct interaction with a brand. Until recently it was dominated by a one-way monologue, “Mad Men” style, along the lines of: “Tell them about us, Tell them again and then Tell them some more”.  That has now morphed into much more of an “omnilogue” across many platforms and channels. Customers form perceptions about companies from; up close and personal interactions in stores, messages on packaging, online self-service, support over the phone, and through social media, news coverage, corporate social responsibility initiatives, the CEO’s biography and umpteen touch points in between.

When engaging with customers, companies are directly and indirectly making promises and creating expectations. Democratising the narrative and giving up control over what is said means that companies more than ever need to live up to their brand promise rather than just talking about it.

By contrast, Customer Satisfaction is a temporal measure - assessing how a company’s products and services meet, surpass or fail customer expectations at a moment in time. Companies have many ways to assess whether they’re meeting customer needs: renewals or repurchase/increasing share of wallet/advocacy/lowering customer churn all indicate customers are happy with what you’re doing for them – in part.

Customer Satisfaction scores can help you find out where your customer interactions are on point, and where improvement is needed, by understanding the satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) key drivers. Inevitably getting things done is a battle of internal resources. A targeted approach to improving results will always work better than trying to improve everything. The key driver analysis allows you to prioritise what to work on and how to get the biggest “bang for buck”.
Be warned, Customer Satisfaction is not a measure of how much your customers like or are emotionally connected to your company. To put it simply: solving a customer’s  problem is no guarantee that they are going to like you, it’s a good start but it’s not enough.

engagement circle-02


We like to think that Customer Experience is the intersection of Customer Engagement and Customer Satisfaction – it identifies the gap (or overlap) between Expectations and Delivery.  It takes in a wide variety of channels, platforms and touch points – from pre-purchase (awareness, research, attraction, interaction) to purchase, and then on to post-purchase (use, cultivation and advocacy). It’s the sum of all experiences a customer has with a brand, product or company and is laden with emotional nuance.
And so the boardroom...Behavioural economists are the new horse whisperers…they are helping Executives to recognize that not all purchasing decisions are rational – many are rooted in emotional, social and psychological responses. Thus, we see the rise of Customer Experience research.

Turn your mind to the little spot at the base of your neck, or at the top of your diaphragm, that involuntarily reacts to moments that matter. When you feel good about a moment you’ll have a flutter. The hairs on your neck will rise. You’ll grin. When you’re disappointed, angry or sad your breath might quicken, your throat might ache, you turn white hot, your skin flushes red. These emotional responses are what differentiate Customer Experience from Customer Satisfaction. It’s where the engagement with the brand and the business performance collide, and each helps to reinforce the other.  To discuss the size of your Customer Experience Gap or Overlap – contact us


CSBA Customer Satisfaction SURVEY

The 2016 CSBA Customer Satisfaction survey was conducted in March. Thank you to all our customers for taking the time to provide feedback . We do like to practice what we preach. Here is a snapshot of our results... CLICK HERE


Warren has over 20 years’ experience in both qualitative and quantitative research, and has held senior management roles with leading organisations in both Australia and the UK.  He is a resourceful, enthusiastic, and creative marketing professional, and is  passionate about market research and the importance of good customer service to drive loyalty and advocacy.  It should also be noted that Warren is highly experienced in customer service and satisfaction improvement programs, and has worked on large scale Mystery Shopping and Quality Audits programs from concept to implementation... EMAIL WARREN 


CSBA Index
Quarter 3, 2015-16

1. Town of Mosman Park
2. Strathbogie Shire Council
3. North East Water
4. Surf Coast Shire Council
5. University of Queensland
Wannon Water
7. City of Subiaco
GWM Water
9. City of Boroondara
10. College of Law
1. Automotive Holden
2. Banks - General Commonwealth Bank
3. Banks - Loans HSBC Home Loans
4. Energy Alinta
5. Housing Services QLD Housing
6. Insurance Budget Direct
7. Local Government Town of Mosman Park
8. Superannuation MLC Super
9. TAFE TAFE Riverina Institute
10. Telecommunications TPG Mobile
11. Tenancy Authority Residential Tenancy Authority Qld
12. University University of Queensland
13. Water North East Water

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