Mystery Shopping Results Councils October 2023

As well as the Call Centre Ranking results below, ACXPA Members also have access to a range of additional insights, including all the monthly reports, trend data, additional performance metrics, a downloadable spreadsheet and lots more!

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Australian Councils October 2023 Call Centre Rankings

This is our third consecutive month of assessing the council’s sector, where we conduct mystery shopping calls into 11 different councils across Australia.

You can read more about the assessment criteria and methodology here, but the quick version is we make random mystery shopping calls posing as a real customer to Councils and then assess both accessibility (how easy it was to connect) and the customer service/quality of the interaction when speaking to a live agent across 48 different performance metrics.

Just scroll below for additional insights or use the links below to jump directly to a section.

Call Centre Rankings Key:






Councils Overall Score Rankings (October 2023)

The Overall Score Rankings provide insights into the Contact Centres we assessed as being the best in their sector.

Each of the mystery shopping calls we make is assessed against 48 different criteria and the calls are made by our local (Australian-based) trained assessors at random times and days throughout the month.

The Overall Score is determined by combining the two primary component scores below and applying some proprietary weightings that place a higher emphasis on the quality of the interaction:

  • Accessibility Score – measures the experience of connecting to a live contact centre agent.
  • Quality Score – measures the experience of the interaction with a contact centre agent.

Key Findings – Overall Scores, Councils (October 2023)

Following on from the August and September results, overall the councils continued their ‘Met Standards’ rating with an overall score of 64.8%.

  • Average wait times across all Councils was 03:18 minutes, an increase of 113% from the previous month, however, this result was heavily skewed as the City of Casey failed to answer any of their calls within the 15-minute threshold.
  • Mosman (NSW) had the lowest average wait times (00:22 minutes) for the month of October with Willoughby (NSW) having the longest wait times of 05:15 minutes. City of Casey had wait times in excess of 15 minutes, the threshold that we disconnect and based on their queue messaging, calls were expected to be answered in around 20 minutes.
  • 91% of calls made to councils were answered within the 15-minute threshold, the only exception the City of Casey that as reported, did not answer any calls within 15 minutes.
  • Quality improved across all councils for the third consecutive month, increasing from 65.2% to 67.1% (Met Standard) with the lead performers Willoughby (NSW) (84.0%) and Monash (NSW) the lowest-rated council 52.1%.
  • The ‘Engage’ competency again rated the poorest of the five quality competencies at 39.2% with ‘Energy’ rated the highest at 91.7%.
  • 36% of councils had no IVR making it easier for customers to connect to a live agent.  Only one council averaged over two IVR layers – Sydney Council.
  • Stirling (WA) has the longest menu to navigate (00:30 minutes), just marginally ahead of Parramatta (00:26 minutes).
Top 3 - Councils
Overall Score (Oct 2023)
1. Northern Beaches (NSW)82.9%
2. Onkaparinga (SA)79.5%
3. Brisbane City77.7%
Councils AVE64.8%

View YTD Council data >

Councils (OCT 23)
Lowest Overall Score
1. Casey (Vic)0.0%

Councils Accessibility Score Rankings (October 2023)

Whilst come councils offer live chat, counter service or emails – our Call Centre Rankings are designed to assess the phone experience, from customers (predominately ratepayers) who want to speak to a live person.

The Accessibility Score measures the experience before interacting with a live agent with our assessment including 30 individual elements grouped into five core components: Search, Design, Ease, Audio and Timing (along with deductions for calls not being answered within thresholds, technical glitches, etc).

Elements including queue wait times, how easy it was to find the phone number, ease of menu options (i.e. press 1 for this, 2 for that), hold music, audio quality, etc. 

*We wait on hold for 10 minutes (sales scenarios) or 15 minutes (service scenarios) before disconnecting the call.

Key Findings – Accessibility Scores, Councils (October 2023)

Overall the Accessibility of councils decreased from September 2023 (82.5%) down to 73.6% in October 2023 (-8.9%).

  • Three councils were rated as ‘Exceeds Standards’ for Accessibility, one for ‘Below Standard’ and one for ‘Poor’.
  • The most accessible council was awarded to Monash (Vic) with 95.0% and the lowest score was Casey (Vic) with 2.1%.
  • All councils answered 100% of the calls we made with the exception of Casey (Vic) who failed to answer any of our calls within the 15-minute threshold.
  • The average wait time to connect to a council was 03:18 minutes (up significantly from 01:33 the previous month), with Mosman (NSW) the quickest on average to answer at 00:22 minutes.  The average results were largely skewed by the City of Casey having all their calls exceeding 15 minutes – excluding their results, the result would have been 02:08 minutes (still an increase from September results).
  • Four councils had no IVR making it easier for customers to connect directly to an agent – Brisbane City (QLD), Northern Beaches (NSW), City of Onkaparinga (SA) and Monash City (Vic).
  • The most IVR layers was Sydney Council with an average of two layers.
  • Talk time across all councils averaged 04:35 minutes, a slight increase from the previous month (04:18 minutes)
Top 3 - Councils
Accessibility Score (Oct 2023)
1. Monash (Vic)95.0%
2. Northern Beaches (NSW)92.5%
3. Brisbane City (QLD)91.0%
Councils AVE73.6%

View YTD Council data >

Councils (Oct 2023)
Lowest Accessibility Score
1. Casey (Vic) 2.1%

Councils Quality Score Rankings (October 2023)

Whilst average wait times can vary between councils, days of the week, time of day etc, its what happens on the call that has a large influence on the satisfaction of the customer. 

And whilst there appears to be a push by many organisations to try and move people away from the phone channel, a number of recent studies have shown that over 70% of consumers surveyed said that speaking to a real person instead of a chatbot is highly important.

However, 59% of customers say it feels like most businesses need to improve the training of their customer service agents. Whilst councils are one of the better-performing sectors,  the average score in October was 67.0%, so there is still significantly more room for improvement.

And its not just a ‘nice thing to do’. Improved quality is more efficient – requiring fewer callbacks, less migration to other channels, escalations, etc so it makes good business sense to invest in delivering quality customer service!

The Quality Insights Score (QIS)  measures the experience received during the interaction with the live contact centre agent across five core competencies (Engage, Discover, Educate, Close and Energy) and 18 individual behaviours as defined in the Australian Contact Centre Quality Standards.

Key Findings – Quality Scores, Councils (October 2023)

Councils led all industry sectors in September 2023 for quality with a score of 65.2%, and in October 2023, they’ve upped the ante even further with an sector average of 67.1% as assessed against the Australian Contact Centre Quality Standards.

  • The lead performer for quality for the second consecutive month was Willoughby (NSW) with 84.0%, the highest quality score we’ve recorded since we began.
  • The lowest quality score was Monash (Vic)  with 52.1%.
  • The most improved from the previous month was Sydney (NSW) with an increase of 20.8%.
  • The largest decrease from the previous month was Monash (Vic), a decrease of 15.6%.
  • Councils continued to struggle in the ‘Engage’ competency with an average score of 39.2%. The highest score for ‘Engage’ was 58.3% achieved by Parramatta (NSW).
  • The highest scoring quality competency was ‘Energy’ with an average of 82.5%. Northern Beaches (NSW) was the only council to achieve 100% for this competency.
  • Training is available for all councils to improve their scores (and more importantly the customer experience) – we have courses for frontline employees and Team Leaders.

You can see additional information on the quality competency scores below (or just click here to jump to it).

Top 3 - Councils
Quality Score (Oct 2023)
1. Willoughby (NSW)84.0%
2. Northern Beaches (NSW)78.8%
3. Onkaparinga (SA)75.7%
Councils AVE67.0%

View YTD Council data >

Councils (Oct 2023)
Lowest Quality Score
1. Monash (Vic)52.1%

Councils Average Wait Time Rankings (October 2023)

The Average Call Centre Wait Time measures the time to connect to a live call centre employee in Australia, after navigating the IVR systems (press 1 for this, press 2 for that).

Most people would refer to this as waiting in a call centre queue (or being stuck on hold),  and it’s often the measure that has the highest correlation to customer frustration.

Key Findings – Average Wait Times, Councils (October 2023)

Average Wait Times for councils increased substantially as compared to September 2023 results increasing from 01:33 minutes to 03:18 minutes (113% increase) in October 2023.

  • 72% of councils experienced an increase in average wait times in October as compared to September data.
  • The three councils that improved on the previous month was Sydney (NSW), Northern Beaches (NSW) and Launceston (Tas)
  • After being the quickest to answer for two consecutive months, the City of Onkaparinga has been knocked off the top position with Mosman (NSW) having the shortest average wait times in October with 00:22 minutes.
  • The biggest increase was Casey (Vic), averaging 00:44 minutes in September to all calls having wait times in excess of 15:00 minutes in October (the point at which we disconnect).

*Mystery Shopping calls are terminated at 15:00 minutes for customer service  calls. As we disconnect, we don’t, therefore, capture the total wait time, so we apply the maximum threshold time of 15 minutes to calculate the averages, meaning actual wait times would be higher than reported if any calls exceeded the threshold. 

ACXPA Members have access to the number of calls that exceed the 15-minute threshold in the summary download report. 

Top 3 - Councils
Average Wait Times (Oct 2023)
1. Mosman (NSW)00:22
2. Brisbane City (QLD)00:33
3. Sydney (NSW)01:02
Councils AVE03:18

View YTD Council data >

Councils (Oct 2023)
Longest Average Wait Times
1. Casey (Vic)15:00*

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Councils Quality Competencies Summary (October 2023)

The Australian Contact Centre Quality Standards have been developed and refined over 30 years and when businesses consistently achieve high ratings in these core competencies, there is a direct correlation to improved business metrics however you measure them – Sales Conversions, NPS, Customer Effort Score, improved efficiency, reduced AHT etc.

They are applicable to all contact centres and are adapted to suit either customer service or sales calls.

Learn more about the Australian Contact Centre Quality Standards >

Quality is assessed across five core competencies and 18 call-handling behaviours that directly correlate to better customer and business outcomes: Engage, Discover, Educate, Close, Energy.

Councils (Oct 2023)
Engage Competency
Highest:Parramatta (NSW)58.3%
Lowest:Monash (Vic)16.7%
Council AVE39.2%
Councils (Oct 2023)
Discover Competency
Highest:Northern Beaches (NSW)100%
Lowest:Mosman (NSW)44.4%
Councils AVE78.9%
Councils (Oct 2023)
Educate Competency
Highest:Onkaparinga (SA) & Willoughby (NSW)91.7%
Lowest:Parramatta (NSW)50.0%
Councils AVE73.3%
Councils (Oct 2023)
Close Competency
Highest:Parramatta (NSW)100%
Lowest:Mosman (NSW)11.1%
Councils AVE57.8%
Councils (Oct 2023)
Energy Competency
Highest:Northern Beaches (NSW)100%
Lowest:Monash (Vic), Parramatta (NSW), Stirling (WA)66.7%
Councils AVE82.5%

ACXPA Members get access to all summary data! Join now >

Download the Councils Summary Report (October 2023)

The Councils October 2023 Summary report contains additional data exclusive for ACXPA Members including four random councils each month to enable you to compare your performance against a range of different competencies.

Subscribers to our Contact Centre CX Benchmarking service will see the data for all councils we assess.

You need an ACXPA Membership to see this exclusive data!

ACXPA Members gain instant access to additional Council sector data, including the detailed data for four random Councils each month, year-to-date data, and a range of additional ACXPA Membership benefits to ensure you have the leading insights, best-practice tips and more to help you succeed.

Sign your council up for our Contact Centre CX Benchmarking service and see all council data (minimum of 11 other councils), receive the call recordings for your council and get tips to help you improve your performance. Learn more >

Councils Call Centre Rankings Redacted

Additional member-only insights – join now and you’ll  instantly see data for four councils, including: 

  • Calls Answered Percentage
  • IVR Navigation Time & Layers
  • Average Talk Times
  • Quality scores by each of the five different competencies
  • The scores for the four behaviours of the ‘Engage’ Quality Competency
  • Accessibility scores by each of the five different competencies
  • Access to all previous month’s data
  • Monthly Trend Results

ACXPA Memberships start from just $197 per year and are packed with value!

You’ll gain access to leading industry insights every month, live symposiums and workshops with leading contact centre experts, a library of expert videos on contact centres and CX best practices you can watch on demand, a range of downloadable resources, discounts to expert training courses, networking events and lots more.

 , thanks for being an ACXPA Member – view or download the report below!  

Councils October 2023 Website Summary Report

What type of scenarios do we use to conduct the Mystery Shopping calls?

We use enquiries that are general in nature that don’t require us to disclose personal information.

How does the scoring work?

Over the past 30 years we’ve developed standards based on consumer preferences and the metrics that matter – the ones that can influence the customer experience. You can learn more about the framework we use here >

How many calls are assessed?

For the public monthly report, we include at least three calls per council – as more councils sign up for the service, more calls will be included.

When you sign up for the Contact Centre CX Benchmarking service, you will receive a minimum of six calls assessed for every council included.  If you’d rather have a larger sample size, please refer to our customised Benchmarking service >

How can we improve our score?

Our Mystery Shopping program has been designed to provide Councils with the insights they need to improve performance! You’ll receive detailed information on your performance against over 48 individual elements so you know exactly where to focus, and we also include a quarterly report that provides you with personalised key recommendations on areas to focus on.

We also offer a range of training courses that can help teach your frontline employees the skills they need to deliver great customer service (Customer Service Phone ‘Essentials‘ & ‘Professional‘), as well as training courses for your Team Leaders/Managers so they know how to coach effectively using the Quality Framework to improve your performance (and scores!).

How do I get my contact centre included?

We have a fixed-price service starting from $1,297 per month that will provide you with information on your councils, as well as a benchmark of your performance against a minimum of five other councils that you can nominate. Learn more >

How do I order the service?

We have an online ordering form that makes it easy to order the service, nominate the councils you’d like to benchmark against, who you’d like the reports to be sent to etc. View the online order form >

How do I access the data for councils?

ACXPA Business Members get full access to the summary monthly data for councils (and other sectors) along with a host of other benefits which contains the data for five random councils each month.

An ACXPA Business Membership starts from just $497 per year and includes five individual memberships you can allocate to key employees who could benefit from gaining access to leading industry insights for contact centres, customer experience (CX), digital service, and in-person customer service.

If you sign your council up to the Contact Centre CX Benchmarking Service, you will gain access to ALL data from ALL councils.

Is there someone I can speak to to learn more? 

Absolutely! If you’d like to speak to someone further about the Benchmarking Service, please get in touch with our General Manager of Quality Insights, Simon Blair – 0407 002 113 or [email protected]

What type of scenarios do we use to conduct the Mystery Shopping calls?

We use general enquiries that don’t require us to disclose personal information.  Questions about bins, upcoming events, rates etc.

Do councils really care about the service they provide?

We’d really like to say yes! But sometimes whether it’s through a lack of resources or skills, the customer experience that is delivered is well below expectations.

When Councils focus on delivering a better customer experience, not only is it good for you, it actually makes them more efficient meaning they can invest in more services for you.

How do I get my Council included?

We encourage you to contact your local Mayor and ask them to ensure your Council is included. Just send them a link to this page!

Why does ACXPA publish results each month?

Our mission is to improve the level of customer experience in Australia so by publishing the results monthly, we’ll continue to ensure that councils are accountable for the level of customer service they are providing to their ratepayers.

What type of services does ACXPA offer?

In addition to the Mystery Shopping CX Benchmarking, we offer a range of services and resources for people working in contact centres, customer experience (CX), digital service and in-person customer service/retail. You can learn more about us here >

How to gain exclusive insights for your Council

If you’d like to gain insights specifically for your Council’s contact centre performance, and benchmark your results against other councils either in the same state or across Australia, we’ve got a new, cost-effective, fixed-price benchmarking service that makes it easy!

Starting from just $1,297 per month, by signing up for our Contact Centre CX Benchmarking Service, you’ll receive the following:

  • Six Mystery Shopping calls into your call centre each month at random times and days where you’ll receive the full assessment against 48 metrics, our quality assessor’s notes, the employee’s name (where provided) and the full call recordings.
  • Six Mystery Shopping calls each into five other Councils that YOU nominate in either the same state or nationally (a total of 30 calls) so you can benchmark your performance against other Councils that matter the most to you.
  • Aggregate data from all the other Councils we assess providing you with Council sector-wide results to further compare your results to.
  • A monthly email with data to track your performance along with the call recordings.
  • A quarterly report containing insights and trends that are easy to understand, along with actionable recommendations to help improve your performance.
  • An optional Quarterly Insights workshop (conducted live via Zoom) that can provide additional insights, coaching and guidance.

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