Contact Center Pipeline Drive Culture Improvement


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Contact Center Pipeline Drive Culture Improvement

  1. 1. performance matters / jan 2012EmpoweredEmployees DriveContinuousImprovementCultureGive your front linea voice in processimprovement for long-term change that impactsculture, performance andemployee Natasha Gonzalez, Wyndham Consumer Finance Inc. Pipeline Articles
  2. 2. Empowered Employees Drive Continuous Improvement Culture I n a contact center, it can be difficult to keep employees motivated and challenged on a daily basis. Because the work environment can be fairly regimented, employees may feel intimidated to voice their opinions. They often feel that offering suggestions is a waste of time because no one will do anything about it, which, in turn, makes them feel hopeless and unmotivated. And if no one cares how the employees feel or makes an effort to listen, then why would they want to do their best to make the company as successful as it can be? This is a question that my employer took to heart. Company leaders decided to imple- ment changes to make employees’ concerns a priority and to ensure that they know that Natasha Gonzalez their opinions are valued. How? By engaging frontline agents in process improvement. Wyndham Consumer Finance Inc. Empowering employees gives them a chance to be part of the company’s decisions and goals, and allows them to take ownership and responsibility of their own work. Identify Your Staff’s Pain Points We began the process with our yearly associate opinion survey. From that survey, we com- piled the four most talked about issues and then conducted “sensing sessions” to focus on those issues. During these sessions, which consisted of frontline employees and team leads, we discussed the major and most common issues that were encountered in the center. A session facilitator helped the participants to brainstorm the key drivers of each category. The drivers were then included in a multivoting process to help identify the high-priority items. The benefit of a multivoting process is that it helps to focus on the intensity of the issue. Every employee wrote their concerns under each category. The categories with the most concerns or issues were the ones that the company ranked as the most important to change. We discovered that one major concern within all of the departments was the call evalu- ation process and form. The employees felt that the form was too subjective and left too much room for personal opinion. They felt that a 96% failing score was demoralizing when, in school, a 96% is considered an A, or excellent. They also felt that evaluators scored employ- ees harsher if they did not favor them, and that the scoring was not consistent. An over- whelming number of employees shared the same opinion about the call evaluation process, so the company decided to create a process excellence project around the issue. Because the call evaluation process was such a big concern to the frontline agents, man- agement decided to include them in helping to improve it. A team of supervisors, team lead- ers and agents were selected to be part of a five-day Kaizen event to change and improve the call evaluation process. (A Kaizen event is an intensive two- to five-day team session focused on improving specific processes, and targeting rapid, action-oriented results.) Using Six Sigma Tools to Improve Processes During the Kaizen event, the team utilized different process excellence tools to identify what was critical to quality. Our goal was to remove subjectivity so that the employees would feel that they were being scored fairly and accurately. One tool that we used is called the X-Y matrix, also known as a cause-and-effect matrix, which is a Six Sigma tool that allows a team to identify performance gaps and areas for improvement. As a team, we came up with a proposition statement: The value of the call monitoring process is to “engage, train and develop employees, provide ‘Count on Me!’ service, while meeting all business and legal requirements.” This proposition statement aligned with the organization’s overall business strategic objective for 2011. Pipeline Articles 2
  3. 3. Empowered Employees Drive Continuous Improvement Culture In our X-Y matrix, the X represented the output parameters and the Y represented the scoring call inputs. Therefore, based on our proposition statement, the outputs were: ●● Engage, ●● Train and develop employees, ●● Provide “Count on Me!” service, and ●● Business results. We used the definitions of each item on our current call monitoring form, as well as the new items that the team thought were important, as the inputs. Then we ranked each definition a 1, 4, 7, or 10 depending on the output. For example, verifying the customer’s information is part of legal compliance and the business would be greatly impacted if it was not verified, therefore, we rated it a 10 under “business results.” We rated it a 1 when it came to “Count on Me! service” because whether the employee verified the owner’s information or not typically would not impact the customer’s phone experience. A teAm of The team continued the process until all inputs were rated. After this was complete, we supervisors, summed up all of the ratings for each call definition. The items that were above the median teAm leAders or those that were dramatically higher than most were the items that were critical to quality. And Agents We included those call definitions in the new form and process. The X-Y matrix was just one of many process excellence tools that we used during the Kaizen event. were selected During the event, we also focused on making changes that would increase employee to be pArt morale with the call evaluation process. The purpose of the call evaluation forms is to help of A five-dAy train and develop employees. There is no pass or fail. If an employee misses the same items KAizen event every time, it is now measureable and we can focus on those areas in which the employee needs more training. New employees are not held to the same standards as tenured staff. to chAnge Our goal is to have everyone perform at the same level. And improve The new clear call definitions helped to remove subjectivity, and a new dispute form was the cAll also implemented. If an agent feels that the evaluation they received was unfair or incorrect, evAluAtion they can now dispute the form and come to an agreement with the evaluator, or a quality assurance specialist will evaluate and review the call. This way, employees can feel more process. comfortable with their evaluations. Implementing the Changes After the Kaizen event, the team was split into groups. My group was responsible for com- munication and training of the new process. The agents who were part of the project had the opportunity to present the new process to their peers. This was especially exciting for those who presented, because it gave them the chance to show their peers what they had accomplished. The employees were excited and interested to hear about the changes that were made and to see how their opinions influenced the change. Overall, the reactions of the employees were positive and they looked forward to beginning the new process. Once everything was finalized and the changes were approved by the business, it was time to embrace the new culture. The training began with the team leads and above. With any process change, it’s important for the management team, not only to be supportive, but to make it visible. Some employees may not feel comfortable with change; therefore, if the management team shows that they support it, the employee will be more accepting. On the day that we rolled out the new call evaluation form, we made it a festive event and emphasized the fact that the new process was a result of the staff’s voice and opinions. Pipeline Articles 3
  4. 4. Empowered Employees Drive Continuous Improvement Culture We decorated the center with balloons and banners that said, “You spoke, we listened.” A Continuous Improvement Culture After the new process was in place for six months, we conducted more sensing sessions to gauge its impact on employee morale. An overwhelming 97% of the employees who took part said that they trusted the new process and felt more comfortable that they were being evaluated fairly. They also felt that the evaluation form was a useful tool to help them develop their skills. This Kaizen event was a start of a new culture to include all employees with major changes in the company. The employees who were part of this process excellence project not only learned new ways to implement changes, they also received a Yellow Belt for their basic training in Six Sigma tools. In addition, the entire team attended an awards dinner after the project was completed, and was recognized at a quarterly town hall meeting. This encouraged other employees to come forward with new ideas and the desire to be part of future projects and changes to help our business be more successful. Natasha Gonzalez is a Team Lead, Contact Center Operations, for Wyndham Consumer Finance Inc. Pipeline Articles 4
  5. 5. Empowered Employees Drive Continuous Improvement Culture About Contact Center Pipeline Contact Center Pipeline is a monthly instructional journal focused on driving business success through effective contact center direction and decisions. Each issue contains informative articles, case studies, best practices, research and coverage of trends that impact the customer experience. Our writers and contributors are well-known industry experts with a unique understanding of how to optimize resources and maximize the value the organization provides to its customers. To learn more, visit: This issue is available online at: January 2012, Contact Center Pipeline Online Resource Publishing Group, Inc. PO Box 3467, Annapolis, MD 21403(443) 909-6951 ❘ Pipeline Articles 5