Captivating Compliance - the Q&A

By Ian Stevens

‘Captivating compliance’ may sound like a contradiction in terms, but that doesn’t need to be the case where research is concerned.

Compliance is an important feature of financial market research, from conduct risk assessments to adherence to brand guidelines. Yet the danger is that these projects are downgraded to box ticking exercises or rejected by staff as management espionage. We explored this topic in a webinar in February. You can watch the recording on demand (fill out the form to get an instant email with the link).

Below are a few follow-up questions, and answers, on the topic:

  1. Is it possible to undertake compliance assessments of competitors?

Yes – but only under certain circumstances. The mystery shopping code of conduct prevents any covert assessment of competitors that will involve extended engagements with their staff. Therefore, any assessments that may involve formal interviews and product applications are not permitted on the grounds that it would require a significant investment of staff resource. However, any assessments of issues such as initial enquiry handling, which typically requires a relatively short interaction with staff, are permitted. Similarly, any assessments that do not require any interaction with staff (eg branch layout, display of regulatory information to customers) are allowed.

It is also possible to assess how competitors perform for specific aspects of service delivery (eg branch service) provided that the information is collected from customer interviews that are free-found and that the nature of the research is clearly explained and reassurances of confidentiality provided for the respondent.

  1. How are audio recordings analysed?

The use of covert audio recording of interactions with staff ensures that the full details of the interaction are available, and also removes any subjectivity that can be involved where the shoppers complete an assessment form immediately after the contact has been made.

For some clients, the audio recording provides a source of primary data which they wish to analyse themselves. In these instances, quality control procedures require that the audio is reviewed and edited where necessary to remove any references to personal or confidential details, and checked for audio quality before being delivered to the client. Care also needs to be exercised to ensure that the audio files are delivered securely (typically via a secure reporting portal or use of encryption software) and that the client controls access to the primary recording.

Where the client does not require the audio itself, the recordings provide primary data that ensures that subsequent analysis is both comprehensive and accurate, whereas there is a risk of some degree of inaccuracies if shoppers are required to recall the details of the interaction from memory immediately after the assessment has been completed.

  1. Are there rules as to how covert audio recordings are used?

For any research conducted by an organisation among colleagues, covert audio recording is only allowed where the terms of their employment permit this form of assessment. This does vary between organisations – and in our experience the majority do not have provision within the employment contracts for branch-based staff for covert audio recording. However, for telephone-based interactions, call recording is extensively used by all organisations as part of their quality control processes (and many play messages so that users are aware that their call may be recorded  anyway) so covert audio recording is allowed.

  1. What is the most effective way of reporting the findings of compliance research within an organisation?

To achieve maximum impact, it is essential that reporting is both timely and insightful. For ongoing programmes of research, it may be worth investing in setting up a reportal through which the findings can be accessed by the relevant stakeholders, so that historic data can be compared with more recent feedback, and to assess the impact of any actions or operational revisions changes upon subsequent performance. It is also important that feedback from the research is shared within an organisation as any delay or apparent reluctance to report may prompt concerns regarding the outcome of the assessments.

You can read more about our Compliance research, or feel free to get in touch.

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