Drill-Down into Critical Processes for Gold Opportunities

call center improvement, call center consultant, operational excellence, contact center performance, contact center innovation

Methods to drill-down to the critical few processes that yield 80% of the GOLD opportunity.

Call centers are very dependent on robust processes, carefully designed and standardized to create a smooth work flow and consistent result. What happens when those processes break down, or worse yet, were never designed to work smoothly in the first place?

Leadership in the call center operations is the first place you should look when your critical processes aren’t up to your expectations. Once you have identified the key roles and the organizational structure of your call center operations, you can begin looking at the relationships forged between front line staff and management.

How are the lines of communication in your call center? I’m not talking about communication between the organization and its customers—at least, not yet. Here, you need to focus on the communication styles and skills within the organization. How are issues escalated to higher-ups? What is the turn-around time on management responses and input?

Now it’s time to look at the micro-management situation within your organization. Do your call center employees have an adequate amount of authority to handle day-to-day issues and situations? If micro-management is a problem, it’s time to invest in training your managers how to delegate, evaluate and motivate employees, rather than constantly looking over their shoulders.

By mapping out the most usual and typical processes in your call center, you can more easily identify where the process is breaking down, where it is succeeding and where it could stand to be improved or modified in some way. Keep in mind that you’ll also need to monitor and analyze the results of your improvements; not all “first pass” fixes are the best solution for the given situation. There should always be a process in place to implement new and better processes as they are determined and identified.

If you have an interest in learning more on the methods to uncover opportunities within a Contact Center and Organization-Wide that quickly convert to GOLD, join me for my webinar Mining Your Contact Center for GOLD.

Here is the registration link:  https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/868286626

 

 

Connect with us in LinkedIn: .

Ron Crabtree, CPIM, CIRM, CSCP, MLSSBB

Kim Crabtree, President of MetaOps WBENC Certified

 

Mining for Gold in the Call Center

Core / Root Causes of Under-performing Call Centers

In today’s fast-paced business world, it’s no longer enough to simply meet—or even exceed—your customers’ expectations. Your organization is facing tough competition and you need to learn ways to delight your customers with the products and services you offer.

What might be surprising to you is that you can look to your call center to find some of the easiest ways of adding value; this is a prime opportunity to reduce your waste and variation in performance.

Call center improvement, Call center consultant, Operational Excellence, Contact Center Innovation, Contact Center Performance

Methods Exposed to Uncover Opportunities Within a Contact Center and Organization-Wide that Quickly Convert to GOLD

The sources of waste and variation in call centers typically comes from one or more of the following classic problems in this area:

Rework and Correction

There are no “mulligans” in the real world, and when your employees consistently need to re-do or correct their work, you’ll be losing time and money on quality monitoring and escalations.

Minimal Human Involvement

Look out on the call center floor; do you see actively engaged employees, or mainly those who are working robotically, with their heads down? Getting your staff involved and engaged is key to achieving operational excellence in the call center.

Work Flow

If your call center staff is spending time waiting for work to arrive, waiting on call-backs or management input, waiting on escalation queues or maintaining a large email backlog, you’re basically throwing money away. Look for ways you can smooth out the work flow and keep everything—and everyone—running on time.

Knowledge Disconnect

Do you know what your customers and clients really want? How do you know for sure? Monitoring the customer complaints and common in-bound call reasons can point you directly toward potential improvements.

Over-Processing

Diligence is one thing, but over-processing work leads to needless time and effort spent with no value return. Are your employees focusing on creating a “perfect product” that no one wants? Are they spending large amounts of time in duplicating documentation or record-keeping?

Overproduction

What does your inventory look like, if you have one? How about your labor scheduling? Stocking too much inventory and being over-staffed will cut into your profits and efficiency drastically, and is one of the biggest causes of waste in call centers.

By addressing these common causes of waste and variation, your call center can begin to move smoothly and efficiently. However, don’t think that you can simply “fix it once and forget it”; monitoring your call center should be an on-going exercise for your organization, in order to note and correct any emerging problems before they spread.

If you have an interest in learning more on the methods to uncover opportunities within a Contact Center and Organization-Wide that quickly convert to GOLD, join me for my webinar Mining Your Contact Center for GOLD.

Here is the registration link:  https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/868286626

 

Connect with us in LinkedIn: .

Ron Crabtree, CPIM, CIRM, CSCP, MLSSBB

Kim Crabtree, President of MetaOps WBENC Certified

Why Can’t Organizations Keep High-Performing Teams Working Consistently?

Having mentored hundreds of high-performing teams over the years, I have seen great successes. Unfortunately, I have also seen far too many failures. Obviously, my experiences bring up a big question: “Why is it that many organizations can’t consistently keep high-performing teams working in all areas?” Typically, the answer comes down to just a few basic reasons.

High-Performing teams, problem solving activities, performance management, operational excellence

Sometimes, team leaders set the team up for failure right from the very beginning

The first reason can be found behind the scenes when top management is not a believer in high-performing teams. If the organization’s leaders subscribe to more of a “theory X-type” style of management, as opposed to a more participative “theory-Y style” of leadership, the team members will not believe in their own abilities or performance. The worst type of manager is the one that listens to ideas and then tells the team what to do. This is a fatal step to take with a team and guarantees they will not reach the status of “high-performing.”

Another situation that hinders teams is the creation of a team that is either too small or too large. Three members or fewer creates the problem of no diversity and limited resources. Seven members is typically ideal for most projects. Teams with more than ten members start to be a problem because it’s too hard to keep everyone in-tune.

Sometimes, team leaders set the team up for failure right from the very beginning. This can happen due to several issues. For example, if a leader loads the team up with too many of one personality type, that team will struggle. To avoid this scenario, pick the personality profiling tool you like best and then try to select team members who bring different strengths and weaknesses. This may sound counter-intuitive on the surface, but it really does matter.

Unrealistic expectations can also shoot your high-performing team in the foot, whether those expectations are too low or too high. If given no or very low expectations, the team will go nowhere. Conversely, tasking the members with real or perceived expectations that can’t be met defeats and demoralizes the team before they can even begin. Finally, the team leader or facilitator may be the reason why the team fails.

Oftentimes, management is unable or does not know how to support the team. Either through not providing enough guidance, resources or support of good decisions, a team leader can destroy the chances of creating a high-performing team through inaction. Additionally, management that fails to give the right kind of leadership to the team guarantees a wasted effort.

Through establishing the correct size for your team, carefully selecting your members, providing measurable and realistic expectations for all involved, and effective team leadership, your organization can foster high-performing teams across all functional areas. If your organization is struggling to create high-performing teams, put these suggestions to the test and you will begin to see real results.

If you have an interest in learning more how the Code of Conduct can transform teams, join me for my webinar 3 tactics REVEALED to Crack the CODE on High-Performing Teams.  Here’s the registration link:

https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/195092330

Connect with us in LinkedIn: .

Ron Crabtree, CPIM, CIRM, CSCP, MLSSBB

Kim Crabtree, President of MetaOps WBENC Certified

Leading High Performing Teams

The single most important skill you must have to be an effective leader of high-performing teams is understanding that your role is always situational. You may already be aware of the theory of a four-phase development for teams: forming, storming, norming and performing. While that theory will go far toward helping you learn to lead a high-performing team, it isn’t the only information that you need to do well.

The Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model, which states that leadership styles must change for people depending on their level of competence for the task at hand, is also very useful. People and teams of people exhibit the same kinds of behavior with respect to a task assigned. As mentioned above, these behaviors shift through four defined phases. What most leaders fail to understand is the type of leadership behavior needed for each phase. The most critical phases for leaders to establish a team culture are the “forming” and “storming” phases.

Phase 1 – Forming the Team

High-Performing teams, problem solving activities, performance management, operational excellence

Your role as a leader in HPT is always – SITUATIONAL

During the first phase, members of the team may be unwilling, insecure or unsure how to do the task. That means that the leader’s behavior must be very directive. Team leaders must be very prescriptive and almost dominating in directing the team as they get started. They must accelerate the members through the “forming” process and get them oriented as quickly as possible.

Tell them what the team will do, show them the steps to take, and then figuratively hold their hands as they start the tasks. Close supervision and providing a substantial amount of feedback on how they are doing is essential during this phase, just as if training a new employee on a job he or she has never done before.  Finally, make no assumptions until the team proves they are ready to move on as a cohesive group.

Phase 2 – Storming Development

In the second phase of the model, people on the team are beginning get committed, seem to be “getting it,” but may still be reluctant. Members may also be working through developing their relationships and trust with each other on the team.

The manager’s role shifts from being directive to helping people build relationships. He or she also needs to focus on getting members emotionally involved with the purpose of the team. Think of the leader as a salesperson asking a lot of questions, helping the team break down their disagreements and finding compromises with which the entire team can move forward.

Leaders should directly reinforce the kinds of “norming” behaviors they want and allow the individuals to begin taking on some responsibility for tasks as they demonstrate their ability to do so. A “team progress check” is appropriate at this juncture.

During the final two stages, norming and performing, team leaders will eventually be able to step back from the team, delegate more, and function as a resource for the team. When led successfully through the first two phases, your team will earn the title of “high-performing” and will have gained knowledge and expertise that will continue to work for the organization in the future.

Share your experience with these four phases that teams go through.  If you have some interesting story to share about how you handled a situation, I’m sure my readers would enjoy hearing.  Just comment below.

Here’s an FYI – I’ll be hosting a webinar on the 3 tactics REVEALED to Crack the CODE on High-Performing Teams.  You might find it interesting.  Here’s the registration link and more details about the content.

https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/195092330

Connect with us in LinkedIn: .

Ron Crabtree, CPIM, CIRM, CSCP, MLSSBB

Kim Crabtree, President of MetaOps WBENC Certified

Call Center Improvement: How Your Call Center Can Be Your Best “Early Warning” System; Your ‘Canary’ in Your Coal Mine

Before the advent of modern solutions to detect harmful gases, workers used small birds like canaries when they explored or excavated deep mines. Because canaries are more sensitive to the danger of asphyxiation, the miners knew that they were safe as long as the birds still lived. In much the same fashion, you can use data mined from your organization’s call center as your own “canary.” This allows your call center to function as an early warning system and let you know when there’s a problem to address.

It’s no longer sufficient to simply meet or even exceed your customers’ expectations. When you’re facing tough competition or

Call Center Improvement: Canaries are known as an early warning sign.

Call Center Improvement: Canaries are known as an early warning sign.

significant waste, you need to learn ways to delight your customers with the products and services you offer. That’s where your call center comes in. One of the easiest ways to add value is to reduce your waste and variation in performance.

Before we explore the call center, however, let’s look at the definitions for three commonly used—but often ambiguous—terms: waste, opportunity and added value. Waste can be defined as “resources or efforts beyond the minimum required to satisfy a customer’s perceived value.” Opportunity, on the other hand, can be defined as any value-generating activity that’s not currently being employed. Finally, what do we consider “added value?” Here it’s important to understand that the customer determines the value; that means that adding value involves any activity performed for which your customer is willing to pay. That can apply to service after the sale or just a better designed product.

Waste is commonly found in call centers, especially when your employees are provided incomplete or poorly organized

information. Any time spent in looking up answers or waiting for responses from others is waste. Waste is also found in mistakes in information given. Any work that needs to be fixed on redone detracts from the service your call center employees are able to offer. The same can be said for communication breakdowns and misunderstandings between employees and management.

Now let’s talk about how to implement your “canary in the coal mine” system. To begin, you’ll need to evaluate your inbound and outbound call statistics, taking special note of several key factors. Can you predict the spikes in your inbound call volume? Is there one or more particular issues that receive more calls than others? Has your inbound call volume dropped sharply? The answers to these questions will give you a good place to start looking for opportunities to eliminate waste and variation. Your outbound call statistics should also be monitored, looking for calls that are not related to closing a sale, converting trial customers or courtesy follow-up calls.

Finally, it’s important to understand that most inbound call center calls are out of the control of the call center itself. Tracking the reasons behind these calls will likely identify areas of service or issues with your products that you can address to further eradicate waste and variation. Whether you choose to implement a process improvement system or just improve upon the one already in place, your call center holds the information you need to effectively create operational excellence throughout your organization.

If you’d like more details on this subject join us for a free 55 minute webinar May 30, 2013.

Find out how to mine your call center for gold.

Register here.  

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Connect with us in LinkedIn: .

Ron Crabtree, CPIM, CIRM, CSCP, MLSSBB

Kim Crabtree, President of MetaOps WBENC Certified

 

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