Headlines: February 1st, 2000

Mystery shoppers testing the quality of customer service at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency found difficulty in getting connected. Half of callers to the driver enquiry line took up to three attempts to get through, with some callers trying between five and 20 times to get connected. A close look at performance targets showed that customers may be confused about what standards they can expect. The target set by the Secretary of State for issue of a driving licence is between nine and eleven days (depending on the type of licence) but its Charter Standard for issuing a driving licence is three weeks.The quality audit was carried out by a Public Services Productivity Panel team from HM Treasury headed Andrew Foster, Controller of the Audit Commission. This is the first report to be published by the Panel. The team also looked at quality in the Driving Standards Agency and the Highways Agency where they found that one third of callers enquiring about roadworks received inadequate information.

The report makes recommendations which generally apply to all public service bodies. They include having a clear customer communications strategy and a comprehensive market research strategy which includes analysis of customer complaints and mystery shopping techniques. The report also puts emphasis on the important role that staff play in identifying and developing ways to improve customer service and making use of their knowledge of what works in service delivery. Investment in good quality training and regular review of staff development are described as essential for maximising opportunities for continuous improvement of customer services.

Link: http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/pspp/studies.html