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Taking the mystery out of good customer service


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In Malta, Public Administration departments are being improved thanks to a Mystery Shopper Project, created with help from the ESF.

Originally seen in retail and sales, the mystery shopper idea is increasingly being used in the public sector. By imitating typical customer behaviour, but remaining anonymous, a mystery shopper can discreetly check that services are being delivered to the high standards that the public expects.

Designed by Malta’s Quality and Development Directorate, the Mystery Shopper Project is already improving customer service at Public Administration service sites all over the country. It enables the Directorate to run ongoing, detailed reports, evaluating departments against national quality management frameworks, identifying customer service issues, and making recommendations – more than half of which have already been implemented.

Typical improvements include identifying staff training and development needs, and ensuring that data is shared in a way that reduces the administrative burden for citizens and businesses (the Once-Only principle).

The Mystery Shopper Project isn't just about finding and fixing issues, however. It is also highlighting and rewarding good practice in the sector, as the Director General of Quality and Development, Joseph Bugeja, explains. “The rolling out of the Mystery Shopper project is bringing to light the valuable service being provided by many Public Sector employees in their commitment to provide a Service of Excellence.”

Finally, the project "is an effective tool that supports the shaping of the Public Service towards a Service of Excellence”, adds the Principal Permanent Secretary, Mr Mario Cutajar.

Project name Mystery Shopper – Enhanced performance in the Public Administration leading to Service of Excellence
Duration 2016 - 2022
ESF contribution € 2,150,000 (80% ESF)
Total budget € 2,687,500.00
Participants n/a
Country Malta
Organisation Office of the Prime Minister – Quality & Development Directorate within the People & Standards Division
Contact details Mr. Joseph Bugeja – Director General
+356 22001833
Related links 1.4. Better public services