- Young Advisors
- 8 Bradley Street
- M1 1EH
- Tel : 0161 850 1077
The Young Advisors were commissioned by Synergy Housing to carry out a series of ‘Mystery Shops’ to ensure Synergy Housing provided excellence in communication and customer service. The Young Advisors aim for this project was to monitor the customer care standards of Synergy Housing’s staff and to investigate how many of their staff consistently applied the standards set by Synergy Housing.
The group of young people aged 14-17 phoned over 70 members of staffs to identify their customer care on the telephone and also assessed their website for usability and accessibility. The Young Advisors wrote a detailed report for Synergy Housing with their results and recommendations for improvements.
Weymouth and Portland Young Advisors are fully trained young consultants aged between 14 – 17. As a group we offer advice and guidance to adults in order to develop communities and to create positive change to society. We are happy to be working with Synergy Housing in order to ensure you place your customers at the heart of your business
We have been commissioned by Synergy Housing to carry out a series of ‘mystery shops’ to ensure you provide excellence in communication and customer service. According to a recent Customer Scrutiny Panel of Resident Involvement teams there have been some concerns highlighted around Synergy Housing’s website and access to information and due to this Synergy Housing has set this as a key priority to develop and improve. We know that every member of staff has undergone mandatory training regarding the standards that should be consistently applied and through our mystery shopping we aim to monitor the customer care standards of your staff to investigate how
many of your staff are consistently applying the standards set by Synergy Housing.
We will provide for you:
* Statistics of how many and which staff are applying Synergy’s standards of customer service to phone calls
* A breakdown of staff contact details according to your website and suggestions for alterations
* Website evaluation details on our experiences using the website and our thoughts for improvement.
Our first role as a team was to explore the website and to get a feel for how customer friendly the site was. We each monitored the website by completing a website evaluation form, we then collated all six young advisors questionnaires and averaged out the scores in order to provide an analysis of our findings. These findings will be discussed later in the report.
When we felt we had sufficient knowledge of the website we went in search of 86 numbers although unfortunately this deemed more difficult than expected. We only managed to find 69 numbers with individual names although within this we did find a few names that had the same number therefore this number was only phoned once.
We contacted all staff members between 9:00am – 5:00pm Monday to Friday between the dates of 17th May – 14th June. We made over 69 phone calls in total as many numbers were incorrect on the website and we were often directed to another number on the call. We found that unfortunately this would skew our data as this means we may have phoned one person twice or even three times to speak to the correct member of staff.
We decided that on our database if the first number went through to Synergy Housing we marked this as the call and noted that the number was wrong but we have logged each phone call on the ‘Website Contact Numbers’ sheet so that all phone calls can be accounted for. After discussion with our Co-ordinator we decided as a team that we would not leave messages on answer machines as there was not always someone in the office to pick these messages up.
When we had phoned all 69 numbers on the website and then phoned the correct numbers we had been diverted to we collated all of the information and analysed it. From our findings we were able to draw conclusions and recommendations for Synergy Housing.
We asked a series of questions of our mystery shop, in order to analyse our experience.
The above graph shows the frequency of calls collated with whether that call was answered shown as a percentage. The graph shows that you are least likely to have your call answered between 10am – 11am and most likely to have your call answered between 12pm and 1pm. The figures are a little skewed by the fact that only 2 calls were made between 12pm – 1pm and they were both answered, whereas you’d expect a lower percentage to be answered due to lunch breaks. Looking at the raw data of the calls between 4pm – 5pm that weren’t answered 5 of 8 took place after 4:30pm suggesting that the closer that a call is made to 5pm the least likely that call is to be answered.
The graph above shows that the majority of calls, 55% were answered with 5 rings, with only a small percentage being answered above 5 rings. On the other hand 35% of calls were not answered and were put through to voicemail.
We found that of the phones that were answered 71% were answered by the correct staff member and 29% were picked up by another team member. This could lead to some anomalous results as we could not be sure that the number dialled was the right number for the particular member of staff, as no indication was given.
The graph above demonstrates whether the staff member greeted the caller with ‘Welcome to Synergy Housing’. The results show that of those numbers that were answered 96% gave the correct greeting, interestingly one of the department heads was one of the exceptions.
The above graph shows that 59% of staff members gave their full name with 41% failing to. It should be noted however that the majority of those that didn’t give their full names did give their Christian names.
The graph above shows whether the staff member asked whether they could help the caller. 87% of those called responded positively with the correct greeting. Because calls were transferred this may not be a true reflection, as if a call was picked up by another staff member that staff member was monitored rather than the staff member called.
From the graph above we can conclude that 83% of the numbers dialled from the website are correct which leaves 13% (6 numbers) incorrect and 4% (2 numbers) unknown. As previously discussed these results are skewed by the fact that it was mostly unclear whether the right number advertised led to the right person as no indications were given when another member of staff picked up the phone. This is further skewed because some offices clearly share one number with group pick up. Of note 5 numbers have been changed to one group number without automatic call forwarding just an answer phone detailing the new number.
We can conclude that the page titled ‘Information on Zone 5’ was the easiest page to find on the website while the page titled ‘Upcoming Events’ was the hardest – with three people out of six not finding the page at all.
Two of the team also did not find the pages titled ‘Information on Benefits’ and ‘The Latest Edition of Synergy Link’. We found that the amount of time to find the website pages differed greatly with each of us, for example one of us found ‘Planned improvement Programme Information’ in 1 minute whereas another young advisor took 7 minutes, this will have affected the averages considerably.
As a team we found ‘Information on Zone 5’ was very useful and informative whereas the ‘Information on Benefits’ page was not very useful or informative as there were no local contacts and very little information on the page.
We found it very interesting that the majority of us found contact details for some of the pages but some young advisors did not find contact details at all on the pages. We also noted that not one young advisor who found the ‘Upcoming Events’ page found relevant contact details.
We can conclude from Question 2 on Appendix 3 that as a team we found the website average to navigate around, with some finding it easier than others. We found that we each liked difference aspects of the appearance of the website with one stating that ‘it was easy to use for anyone [and] is simple and helpful and others point out they like the ‘colour and pictures’.
We can see from the results of question 1 that there is a difference in whether your call is answered between different parts of the day. The 55% of non answered calls between 1000-1100 we felt was very high given the fact that this must be one of the most popular times to ring Synergy housing. This could be due to a variety of factors including meetings and mid-morning tea breaks.
It is impressive that a high majority of calls were answered quickly with the correct introduction, although with some surprising exceptions. We felt that with this quick answer and welcoming greeting a good first impression was given to the caller. Whilst on the whole this is to be congratulated, there are some notable exceptions to this.
In some cases when ringing the number given on the website the call went through to a pre-recorded message that asked the caller to hang up and ring a different number. As this effectively asked the caller to make another call we felt that this could see an improvement. If the caller was calling from a pay phone or was particularly tight on time or money they would not want to make that second phone call.
When calls are not answered and the call goes to an answer phone we saw some good and bad examples of an answer phone message. In four cases when the staff member was on holiday they gave their return date, which we felt was very helpful. The caller was invited to leave a message and knew when they would expect a call back from the person in question. On the other end of the spectrum we found one answer phone message didn’t give the name of the staff member. Another example saw our call diverted to an answer phone but instead of the answer phone picking up the line went dead, this happened on both occasions that we rung.
Whilst at first look it may seem that the results of question 4 do not look great with only 59% of staff members giving their full name. We felt that whilst it is useful to know the full name of the staff member it is actually more friendly to use just a first name when answering a phone call. We see the merits of both systems and are undecided whether a staff member should answer with just their first name or their full name.
One area where we felt there could be improvement was when other members of staff were answering transferred calls. We found it was hard to know whether we had got the correct number when ringing a staff member because when it was transferred the staff member who answered only gave their name, and not the name of the staff member whose phone they had answered. Whilst we’d rather our phone calls were answered than left to go to answer phone we would also like confirmation that we had rung the correct number.
We can see that there are significant differences in how easy we found the website and how useful and informative the information on certain website pages was. This could be due to a variety of factors including; our computer skills, our perceptions of what we think we should find on the page and the difference in how we perceive ‘easy’, ‘hard’, ‘useful’ and ‘not useful’.
We appreciate that everyone has a different view of what they expect from a website, it’s looks and feels and what information should be on the website and this is shown well in Question 3 as one Young Advisor voted the appearance of the website as a 10 whereas another voted it a 4. Many stated that they liked the colours and pictures on the website and found the search bar very useful to find things on the website.
One Young Advisor noted that there was no spell check on the search bar and that this would have been very helpful to her. We felt that the website was very adult focused and quite hard to navigate, therefore we feel more colour could be added to the website to make it look less corporate for young people but also the layout of the website could be improved for easier navigation, for example drop down boxes could be added to the top tabs.
We noted that only 3 out of 6 of us found the ‘Upcoming Events’ page and of those three they felt it was the one of the least useful and informative pages. We feel that having an events calendar on the home page would not only advertise events but emphasise the amount of community work you do as a company.
1. In cases where Staff members share offices at least one member is left to answer phones at all times during office hours. In cases where the occupant of a private office is away from their desk, it is recommended that answer phones are switched on or the call is transferred to an occupied desk.
2. That the incorrect numbers are changed as soon as possible to show the correct numbers.
3. When staff members are away from the desk for an extended period, new answer phone messages are left giving the date of return.
4. When answering transferred calls the staff member gives their name and the name of the person whose phone they have answered.
5. Drop down boxes from the top tabs on the website could make the website easier to navigate.
6. Add an events calendar on the home page or on a tab to promote events and demonstrate the work you do.