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Mystery shoppers prompt changes

We're making changes after mystery shoppers carried out a three-month investigation into the way our customer services teams at Sevenoaks and Swanley responded to enquiries.

While the results were generally positive, with most of the mystery shoppers reporting a good standard of customer service over the telephone and in person, we will be using the results to help us improve further in the way we respond to enquiries.

The mystery shopping exercise consisted of telephone calls, emails, and visits to test responses to different scenarios. It included drafting case studies and talking to the ‘shoppers’ at a feedback session afterwards.

The scenarios involved visiting the Swanley Link or Sevenoaks reception or making contact online or by telephone. Mystery shoppers were asked to:

Report a real repair in their property and record the response to the enquiry, how the repair was handled and the repair itself.

Report a problem with a dog barking in the local area but say they were not sure which property the noise was coming from.

Ask for a copy of a rent statement on behalf of another tenant.

Rearrange their annual gas safety check if/when they received an appointment.

Ring or go online to ask West Kent to help with a minor repair or odd job listed in the handyperson leaflet.

Report rats in the garden.

Query a service charge for the lift in their home despite the fact that it had not been serviced since 2013 and ask for an update.

Find out why their flooring had still not been fixed a year after it had been damaged during a kitchen refit.

The research found a good standard of customer service over the telephone and also in person with 15 shoppers being very or fairly satisfied with their experience and only three fairly or very dissatisfied. Mystery shoppers felt staff gave a good response and ‘stuck to their guns’ even when put under pressure by the shoppers.

One member of the customer service team was mentioned several times as having given outstanding service and being knowledgeable.

There were several comments about the queuing system at the Swanley Link needing to be improved and signed better and some staff were found to be confused about what was included in the handyperson service and who was eligible.

We will tackle a number of issues, including poor communication between staff and contractors around appointment times, staff not calling back when requested, the queuing and signage at Swanley and confusion over what is included in the handyperson service.

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