'Mystery Shoppers' impede customer service says FSU

May 9 2003 - The use of Mystery Shoppers to evaluate quality of service has upset Commonwealth Bank staff. The Finance Sector Union (FSU) is demanding an end to what it describes as the Bank's humiliating evaluation process. Moreover, the FSU says staff are the solution to key customer service issues - not the problem!

The FSU contends that such 'coercive practices' impede the delivery of quality customer service and extend the time customers spend in queues.

As part of the protest, the FSU distributed public information outside the branch at 55 Main Street, Greensborough on Thursday 8th May. This information told customers that Mystery Shopping belittles and insults staff, and irritates customers facing a litany of questions each time they enter their branch.

According to the union Commonwealth Bank Staff are particularly concerned with the effects of Mystery Shopping. This is a method used by retail companies who employ people to pose as ordinary customers, conduct a transaction and report back on the quality of service. National and international best practice guidelines do not allow individual staff to be identified. However, the FSY argues that CBA is using the method to monitor staff to ensure 100% compliance with prescribed scripts and behaviours.

The FSY further contends that the practice denies staff the ability to recognise individual customer requirements, and ignores the relationship they have built up with loyal customers.

"Customers need to be aware of Bank techniques which intimidate and harass staff, and are hugely irritating to people who wait in a queue only to face a litany of questions from their beleaguered teller every time they go to a branch," says Darren Martin, FSU's Victoria Branch Secretary.

"This Bank uses low Mystery Shopping scores as an excuse to blame individual staff for customer service issues which are in fact caused by short staffing.

"Staff are the solution - not the problem. An example of the Bank's inappropriate response to the issue of queues is a recent edict to branches to measure queue lengths at set times of the week. Surely staff would be better employed behind the counter reducing the queue length, rather than taking a stopwatch to their colleagues and customers?"

According to the FSU, Greensborough staff have experienced chronic Mystery Shopping intimidation and welcome FSU action explaining to customers the pressure on staff to identify opportunities to sell new products, and how this contributes to frustrating delays for service.

"The responsibility is with CBA to give branches enough staff, and the resources to deliver the level of service excellence their customers deserve," says Mr Martin.