Mystery shopping project - update

Mystery Shopping is a form of market research which assesses services completely from the customer’s point of view. The purpose of Mystery Shopping is to provide information from a customer’s perspective on the quality of every day services to assist staff training and improvements in the service.

South Ayrshire Council commissioned the Tenants Information Service (TIS) in August 2013 to provide development support to Council tenants and staff to deliver a Mystery Shopping Project.

The aim of our mystery shopping project was to measure the performance of aspects of housing related functions being delivered by the Customer Service teams, from the perspective of Council tenants.

The Mystery Shopping activities carried out by our tenant ‘shoppers’ were:

  • Making 20 live telephone calls to the Customer Contact Centre to report a repair.
  • Listening to 7 pre-recorded calls of Council tenants and customers reporting a repair.
  • Visiting the Customer Service Centres in Troon, Prestwick, Ayr, Maybole and Girvan to request housing related information, and record the customer experience. A total of 26 visits took place.


Highlighted findings

Live calls

  • 100% (17) found customer service staff to be polite, courteous and professional.
  • 94% (16) were satisfied or very satisfied with the service provided.
  • 88% (15) were satisfied or very satisfied with the information provided.
  • 82% found the staff member was able to resolve query at the first point of contact.

Pre-recorded calls

  • 89% (40) found that staff treated the caller with respect.
  • 63% (30) were happy with the service provided.
  • 68% (31) were happy with the information provided.

Office visits

  • 89% (23) were greeted on arrival by a staff member.
  • 52% (14) noted that staff name badge was visible.
  • 89% (23) of responses stated staff were professional, efficient polite and courteous.
  • 85% (22) of responses stated that staff listened and responded to the needs of the Mystery Shopper.

Selected actions from report

  • The Council is currently undertaking a service review of how it manages repairs, which includes repair categories and timescales. Once completed, a full training programme will be rolled out to ensure staff provide a comprehensive repairs service.
  • Customer service staff ensure signs promoting the availability of private interview rooms are clearly visible
  • Targets set to further improve call connection times for customers.
  • New larger print name badges have been provided to all frontline members of staff.
  • Introduction of independent methods of gathering customer feedback through customer satisfaction surveys
  • Site review to ensure office opening times are clearly displayed internally and externally (within planning restrictions).
  • Sharing findings of the project with staff members to help highlight areas of good practice and recognise where service improvements could be made.

Above is only a small selection of the feedback received from the project. The full report complete with all findings, recommendations, actions and timescales can be found online at If you would like to find out more about the project or to receive a paper copy of the report, please contact Gordon Campbell, Tenant Participation Officer on 01292 612968.

The Mystery shopping doesn’t stop here! This project was a pilot and has proved to be very successful, giving tenants the opportunity to test the services provided by the Council and allowing the Council to review services from information received from its customers.

The next step in terms of this project will be to review progress on the action plan developed by the Council to see if the recommendations and actions have been successfully implemented.

Mystery shopper comments

I really enjoyed being involved in the first ever Mystery Shopping Project in South Ayrshire. It was a fantastic opportunity to test a service from a customer’s view point. It was also an opportunity for me to learn new skills and make new friends through training for the project as a group. I can’t wait to go back and test the service again to check out what improvements for other customers have occurred due to our recommendations.

If you would like to get involved in our next Mystery Shopping Project, please register your interest (contact details below) and let us know the area of housing service that you think we should ‘shop’ next.

Service provider comments

Thousands of customers use Customer Service Centres and the 0300 number every week and we are always keen to get feedback on the services we provide.
We would like to thank the tenants who took part in the Mystery Shopping Project related to the Housing aspects of our Service for their hard work. We look forward to working with tenants and our wider customer group in future to ensure the customer experience is of the highest quality.

Jane Bradley, Manager- Organisational Development & Customer Services

Tenant Participation

Gordon Campbell
Tenant Participation Officer
Freemans Hall
2-6 The Cross

Tel: 01292 612968


Kyle McKay
Tenant Participation Officer
Freemans Hall
2-6 The Cross

Tel: 01292 473469