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.

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