Call Centers – Cutting Waste
Call centers entail planning, staff scheduling, after call processing and reporting functions along with the major function of handling calls. But the major function of handling calls that many would argue couldn’t be standardized can be improved to ensure that no defects exist.
It may be inbound or the outbound calls – but any Six Sigma initiative to improve the process can mean a lot of improvement in customer satisfaction levels.
Typical Waste in a Call Center
Six Sigma process improvements are not always about changing or optimizing processes. Improvements can be made simply by eliminating waste. Waste could be in the form of having too many steps in the process, excess waiting time or rework. These need to be analyzed and eliminated. Applying Kaizen in the call center scenario can help eliminate waste to a large extent.
Though it may be necessary to wait for a time when a call is going on, there are some times when wait times are too long and resources are tied up but not used. These cannot be eliminated altogether, but they surely can be reduced. An analysis of when such times are too long can help find places where they can be reduced or tightened up.
As a part of the call process, there may be some information which is taken but not utilized for any purpose. This is a waste, as this step adds to the time of call but does not get any benefits out of it. Steps such as requesting email addresses can be eliminated, thus reducing the cost and time taken for information that would not be used for any purpose.
Improving Efficiency of the Important Steps
It is important to improve the effectiveness of compulsory steps (e.g. rephrasing the sentence) and removing unnecessary words. It helps in save time.
How to Improve the Process?
Mistake proofing can be put to good use for call handling process. There are certain details and disclosures that have to be literally read out to customers. Some of them are even required by law.
Automating such information can make the process even simpler and error-free.
Stop the Line
Another principle of Lean is stopping the line where a mistake occurs to rectify the problem immediately.
This involves investigating the root cause so that measures can be built in to prevent it in future. Calls can be monitored and their quality checked by playing the recording and reporting any problems.
This can help the agent and team leaders to study and undertake efforts to overcome that problem.
Employee and Customer Satisfaction
When defects in processes occur, employee satisfaction is also low, as they have to face the ire of the customers. With improvements like using software to play prerecorded messages wherever possible, errors on in these areas can be eliminated.
The customers will also be satisfied with the quick responses they receive, and the clear and precise information that they get.
Six Sigma initiatives aimed at achieving customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction with increase in efficiency and efficacy in handling calls will help call centers succeed.
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solutions – Six Sigma Online ( http://www.sixsigmaonline.org ) offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.