Through real world best practices, part 3 – the final chapter in this three-part series – highlights a few “how to” steps on overcoming barriers and become less of a Pain In The Ass (PITA) call center to your customers. It begins with four vital questions…
Step 1: Answer some questions.
According to W. Edwards Deming, the father of the quality evolution, “workforces are only responsible for 15% of mistakes, where the system desired by management is responsible for 85% of the unintended consequences. ” In other words, 85% of a worker’s effectiveness is entirely out of his or her control! It’s rather unfortunate that it is the 15% that is under workers’ control that call centers tend to focus on through quality monitoring efforts, Voice of the Customer programs, mystery shopping and the like.
A well-designed, well-executed quality program will provide a holistic view of your organization’s strengths and opportunities by answering ALL four of the vital questions:
- How are we—as an organization—doing at representing our company to its customers?
- What can we—as an organization—do to improve?
- How are you—as an individual agent—doing at representing our company to its customers?
- What can we—as a management team—do to help you improve?
Note that in accordance with Deming’s philosophy of systems and process management, only one of the four vital questions focuses on the activities of the worker.
What would your answers be?
Step 2: Let your customer be your guide.
One of the largest challenges organizations face in demonstrating value to customers is entirely self-created – business rules and processes that were built with the organization’s needs and desires in mind instead of the customers’. How hard your organization makes it for customers to do business with you is a key predictor of not only how likely customers will be to continue doing business with you, but also how they will feel about it.
Case in point, the two business partners pictured below provide the same service to the same customer profile, but require very different levels of effort on the part of customers in order to deliver their service. Note the large gap that exists in customer perception of the organization and the front-line workers.
This gap in customer perception not only impacts the organization’s future revenue-generation opportunities, it also has fairly severe repercussions to the organization’s current operating efficiency (one aspect is the average number of calls per issue, see below). The more complex set of processes and business guidelines designed by organization B required more effort and time on the part of both customers and front-line workers in order to arrive at a desired end-point.
Step 3: Determine a segment group and test.
There is hope for organizations in similar states as organization B. Process re-engineering can be a time-consuming and at times a painful process but has a quantifiable impact on business efficiency and customer experience. Testing a proposed new process, with real customers, is a key step in process re-engineering. One business partner re-designed a process by which customers could initiate, transfer or terminate service, shortening the process by an estimated 2 minutes.
A pilot (test) of this new abbreviated process revealed the following:
- A minimal (statistically insignificant) change in customer satisfaction on a majority of criteria,
- A significant improvement in customer satisfaction in two key areas – First Call Resolution % (directly connected to operational efficiency) and satisfaction with wait time to get to an agent.
- Overall savings to the organization of an estimated $500,000
An effective quality program, whether it faces internally (internal quality monitoring) or externally (Voice of the Customer programs) should reveal the critical picture of organizational effectiveness (including management, business processes, technology) and then secondarily the front-line workforce. The one example about correcting a PITA for customers is the first of many for this organization. Business processes have natural barriers but it is possible to minimize the impact to the customer, thereby maximizing the benefit of the positive experience for the organization.
Step 4: Take the leap of faith.
The PITA bases have all been covered including: defining, uncovering, and overcoming. The next step is up to you. Do you have what it takes to ask your customers for the necessary feedback? Will you ask the question, “How easy is it to do business with us?” And more importantly, do you have the means to make the changes when you uncover the evil barriers? We’re here if you need help…just ask.
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1. W. Edwards Deming, Seven Deadly Diseases http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Edwards_Deming#Seven_Deadly_Diseases