Success Story

State Government

The Opportunity

One day, someone called the Zelos line and said something to the effect of: “I see you have customer service training, and I know you’re an authorized consulting contractor in Virginia, but does Zelos do mystery shopping?” A few questions, and some in-person collaborative meetings later, the Northern Virginia Community College Director of Parking Services hired Zelos to help design a comprehensive customer service improvement initiative that included standards, goals, mystery shopping to establish a baseline, customized and highly targeted training, and additional mystery shopping to verify improvements and areas of focus.

The Zelos Approach

First and foremost, the Zelos approach was to collaborate extensively with our client—we recognized immediately that he knew his business, knew where he wanted to take the organization in the future, and knew how quickly he could reasonably expect his organization to change. We co-designed the program with all of that in mind.

Key features of the design included:

Realistic mystery shopping scenarios and callers

Our scenarios were well planned through conversations with NOVA staff and through observation; our callers were well-trained to sound and behave like real faculty, staff, students, parents and community members.

Transparency to staff

The Director told staff all about the program and the reasons for the program; it wasn’t set up to be a “gotcha” but rather a learning and growth opportunity, and the results were never used to punish, only to develop.

Concise reporting

In addition to providing any immediate feedback in real time (for example, if we discovered a particular campus was providing the wrong pricing information, we notified the Director immediately), on a monthly basis, Zelos provided written reports that summarized key findings, provided comparison-data to prior periods, and included summaries of all individual calls that parking managers used in staff meetings for review. We also provided the full data files so that our client could conduct his own analysis if he wanted.


Improved Customer Service Overall

In our testing, we immediately saw an improvement in the information that the staff provided as well as how they provided the information. After a year of training, other faculty and staff across campus began to notice the difference and ask the Director what exactly he did.

Increased Management Transparency

With six campuses with different managers, the Director was able to use the mystery shopping data and reports to work more collaboratively with the managers to identify other process improvements or policy/procedures changes that would also improve customer service.

Increased Staff Engagement

Managers and staff appreciated the clarity of the program, and immediately began to ask for additional data and testing so that they could improve more over time.

The Project Director's Final Thoughts

The project ended in late 2015 due to changes in our contract environment. After the final reports and data were delivered, the Parking Director concluded with: “It has been awesome working with you and the Zelos team. I think we’ve set a new standard for customer service and learned a lot of lessons about engaging and motivating people at various levels.”