The primary aim of a contact center is provide top class service to customers. A good contact center always tries to improve the customer experience and solve problems that they might be facing. A contact center also aims to improve customer relationships and provide customized services. Whatever be the role of a contact center, it can suffer if there is no uniformity amongst different processes and no uniform employee training programs to iron out the creases from the operations.
Six Sigma tools can identify the causes of variability in the service standards of various business processes and eliminate them. Lean is a systematic process which involves removal of wastage and creases from the work flow which reduces customer satisfaction and becomes a deterrent in producing the most ideal customer experience. Lean Six Sigma is a methodology which involves the benefits of both Lean processes and Six Sigma tools.
In a contact center, Six Sigma certified team members are mainly tasked with the reduction of wastes like waiting, over processing, lack of required skills, defects and motion. Lean Six Sigma also identifies the channels or processes which are overburdened due to lack of adequate resources and redistributes work in a manner that the entire work flow functions smoothly. Waste reduction and optimal resource allocation are ways through which profitability and sustainability of a business can be increased.
How can the Lean Six Sigma methodology play a significant role in Contact Centers?
The nature of contact centers is changing at a rapid pace. Once it was about simple troubleshooting on telephones. However, changing market dynamics and increasingly demanding customers mean that contact centers not only have to respond quickly, but also have to empower customers through tutorials and help guides. Communication takes place across multiple channels – email, text messages, web chatting, social media interactions and various customer chat rooms and forums in addition to voice processes.
These days, customers expect freedom and fluidity to move from one medium to another instantly and contact centers have to be manned by employees who are accustomed to working across multiple channels of communication. Moreover, they should also know how to use predictive technologies to transfer calls to the right people in order to lower the average handling time and increase the percentage of resolution in first or second calls. Most importantly, contact centers use Lean Six Sigma tools to standardize various operations and remove the ‘niggles’ from a relationship with a customer. It is a tool to manage customer relationship – a must for every contact center.
How can Lean Six Sigma reduce Average Handling Time?
The average handling time is probably the most important metric used in measuring the productivity of a voice-based contact center. It is a function of time and is defined as the average time taken to resolve customer issues like queries and complaints. It is the time taken as soon as a call matures and includes the talk time, hold time and follow-up transactions.
Average handling time of a contact center can be reduced by eliminating or minimizing the non-value added activities (NVA) on the calls. NVA can increase the chances of egregious errors and reduce customer satisfaction tremendously.
Unnecessary customer validations, unstructured script, asking useless questions, paraphrasing the same question repeatedly, providing wrong information or guidance, putting the call on hold or time taken to transfer a call to the right person, repeated interruptions, time lost on navigation, inability to find the right information online, and the inability to multitask can all be classified under NVA.
Certain ways through which wastage can be reduced:
- Eliminate NVAs: It goes without saying that you will have to reduce the non-value added activities from a service call that your contact center is making or receiving from a customer. A time-and-motion study has to be initiated to identify the problem areas and NVAs in the various operations. The next important step is to prioritize the different NVAs in terms of their impact on your business and customer experience, and also making efforts to eliminate them in a sequential order, from the most important to least important.
- Value-Stream Mapping: A value-stream mapping is a systemic process using through which wastes can be identified and measured. It checks the total time taken and various systems in use to determine the wastes in a conversation flow.
- Get constant feedback: A Lean Six Sigma certified process involves receiving constant feedback from various stakeholders in the entire value chain. Agents, managers/team leaders, and customers should all be asked to rate processes frequently. If a problem area is flagged off repeatedly, steps to eliminate it should be initiated.
Benefits of Lean Six Sigma:
Some of the benefits of Lean Six Sigma certified processes are as follows:
- Customer Satisfaction: Lean Six Sigma processes undergo stringent quality checks to remove all the defects. As a result, quality is never compromised and speed of service delivery is improved. This leads to better customer satisfaction.
- Employee Satisfaction: Employees in a lot of companies are confused as the various operating processes are non-standardized. If employees are shifted across various verticals, they often face problems in adjusting as there is no uniformity. Lean Six Sigma certification streamlines the whole process, improves coherence, and boosts employee performance.
- Improves Profitability: Better customer service leads to better customer satisfaction which leads to repeat sales and good word of mouth publicity. All this leads to a healthy increase in profitability of the various business processes.
If you are still wondering whether you should get your processes and teams Lean Six Sigma certified, you may be wasting valuable time which implies a loss in revenue. If you wish to establish long term customer relationships, this is a must.