Maffei Contact Center Pipeline Article - December 2015
PERFORMANCE MATTERS CONTACT CENTER PIPELINE
“Creating a sense of urgency,
along with a well-thought-
out, detailed quality process
plan will go a long way
toward creating a culture of
involvement and success.” p. 4
by MICHAEL MAFFEI
2 CONTACT CENTER PIPELINE ❘ DEC 2015
by Michael Maffei, Aledium Call Center HR Services
Which quality methodology is right
for your center? A review of the
key principles of popular quality
zations like SOCAP, COPC, ICMI and others, but
the quality principles described here are based
on methodologies that are the foundation of
all quality measurement principles.
Six Sigma is, by far, the most prevalent and
well known of all quality methodologies.Simply
put, Six Sigma strives to improve the quality
of a process by identifying and removing the
root causes of the defects in that process or
function. (In a contact center, think IVR call
routing.) The fundamental objective of the Six
Sigma methodology is the implementation of a
measurement-based strategy that focuses on
process improvement in your contact center.
The goal of Six Sigma is to eliminate vari-
ability, errors and processes that undermine
the customer experience.A Six Sigma defect is
defined as anything outside of the “customer’s
expectations of service.” In a contact center
then, a Six Sigma opportunity is the total
quantity of chances for a defect for every cus-
tomer touchpoint (e.g.,phone,chat,IVR,email,
web,etc.).It is the overall process in evaluating
every customer interaction with the contact
center (people, process and technology).
6 ESSENTIAL THEMES
To accomplish success within your contact
center environment, there are six essential
Six Sigma DMAIC themes (define, measure,
analyze, improve, control) that are required:
1.A genuine focus on the customer experi-
2. Data and fact-driven management in
order to make accurate decisions.
3. Process-focused, management and
improvement are ongoing.
4. Proactive and involved management at
all levels is essential.
5. Boundary-less collaboration and involve-
ment by every member of the contact
6.A drive for perfection and a tolerance for
failure in order to ultimately succeed.
In addition, the challenge is to also under-
stand how your customers define and priori-
tize the various needs and expectations they
have of your contact center (again, the term,
“Customers Expectation of Service”). Figure 1
CONTACT CENTER LEADERS ARE
CONTINUALLY CHALLENGED TO BALANCE
THE NEED FOR LONG-TERM QUALITY
PROCESS MANAGEMENT WITH THE
DAILY RESPONSIBILITIES OF MANAGING
THE UNPREDICTABLE CALL CENTER
ENVIRONMENT. IT’S VERY TALL ORDER,
This article is not about quality monitoring,
rather a defined quality process plan that pro-
vides continual and consistent measurements
of success. Throughout my 20-plus years in
the contact center industry, the ability to accu-
rately measure and monitor every process in
our operation through a defined methodology
was the key element that I ensured was always
in place. I’m not alluding to the traditional SLA,
WFM or QM type measurements, but a defined
process that regularly evaluates all functional
areas (people, process, technology) to ensure
optimal contact center performance. How
these quality controls are effectively incor-
porated, or better yet, balanced, is essential
in ultimately determining and measuring
operational success and the overall customer
experience your contact center provides.
I’ve been fortunate to have worked for some
WHEN PEOPLE AND
PRIMARILY ON QUALITY,
QUALITY TENDS TO
INCREASE AND COSTS
FALL OVER TIME.
great companies over the years that have
provided training and certification in several
recognized quality processes and methodolo-
gies. Though I have practiced and have been
inclined toward Six Sigma principles, I’ve
never hesitated to incorporate a mixture of
approaches, depending on the situation that
If your contact center doesn’t have a defined
quality process or methodology in place, the
purpose of this article is not to influence one
path over another, but to present several
approaches to get you thinking about what
may work for your own operation. I realize that
there are a variety of approaches from organi-
PERFORMANCE MATTERS MICHAEL MAFFEI
DEC 2015 ❘ ContactCenterPipeline.com 3
summarizes how customers view an organiza-
tion and how the contact center plays a role.
TOTAL QUALITY MANAGEMENT
The core definition of total quality manage-
ment (TQM) describes a structured manage-
ment approach to success through the overall
customer experience. In a TQM effort within a
contact center, all members of the operation
participate in improving processes, products,
services and the culture.
PHILIP B. CROSBY:
“QUALITY IS FREE”
I had the pleasure of meeting Philip Crosby
during my time at Progressive Insurance where
I trained and became certified in his program.
His book, Quality is Free, though published
in 1979, is still viewed as one of the lead-
ing authorities on quality principles. Crosby’s
quality mantra is “Doing it right the first time.”
He believed that an organization which estab-
lishes good quality management principles will
see savings returns that more than pay for the
cost of the quality system (hence, “quality is
free”). It is less expensive to do it right the first
time than to pay for doing it over again.
4 MAJOR PRINCIPLES
In his book, Crosby’s approach to quality is
summarized in his 14 steps that included
these four major principles:
1.The definition of quality is conformance
to requirements (requirements meaning
both the product and/or service and the
2.The system of quality is prevention.
3.The performance standard is zero defects
(relative to requirements/expectations).
4.The measurement of quality is the price
The following are Crosby’s 14 Steps to
Management commitment: The need for
quality improvement must be recognized and
adopted by management, with an emphasis
on the need for defect prevention. Quality
improvement is equated with profit improve-
Quality improvement team: Representa-
tives from each department or function should
be brought together to form a quality improve-
ment team.These should be people who have
sufficient authority to commit the area they
represent to action.
Quality measurement: The status of qual-
ity should be determined throughout the
company. This means establishing quality
measures for each area of activity that are
recorded to show where improvement is pos-
sible, and where corrective action is necessary.
Crosby advocates delegation of this task to the
people who actually do the job, so setting the
stage for defect prevention on the job, where
it really counts.
Cost of quality evaluation: The cost of
quality is not an absolute performance
measurement, but an indication of where the
action necessary to correct a defect will result
in greater profitability.
Quality awareness: This involves, through
training and the provision of visible evidence of
the concern for quality improvement, making
employees aware of the cost to the company
Corrective action: Discussion about prob-
lems will bring solutions to light and also raise
other elements for improvement. People need
to see that problems are being resolved on a
regular basis. Corrective action should then
become a habit.
Zero-defects planning: Create a committee
to implement the program and communicate
the meaning of zero defects in a way that
aligns with the company and its culture.
Supervisor training: All managers should
undergo formal training on the 14 steps before
they are implemented. A manager should
understand each of the 14 steps well enough
to be able to explain them to his or her people.
Zero-defects day: It is important that the
commitment to zero defects as the perfor-
mance standard of the company makes an
impact, and that everyone gets the same mes-
sage in the same way.
Goal setting: Each supervisor gets his or
her people to establish specific, measurable
goals to strive for. Usually, these comprise 30-,
60- and 90-day goals.
Error-cause removal: Employees are asked
to describe on a simple, one-page form any
problems that prevent them from carrying out
error-free work. Problems should be acknowl-
edged within 24 hours by the function or unit
to which the problem is addressed. This con-
stitutes a key step in building trust, as people
will begin to grow more confident that their
problems will be addressed and dealt with.
Recognition: It is important to recognize
those who meet their goals or perform out-
standing acts with a prize or award, although
this should not be in financial form.The act of
recognition is what is important.
Quality Councils: The quality professionals
and team leaders should meet regularly to
discuss improvements and upgrades to the
Do it over again: During the course of a
typical program, which lasts from 12 to 18
months, turnover and change will dissipate
much of the educational process. It is impor-
tant to set up a new team of representatives
Continued on page 4
Product or Service Features, Attributes, Dimen-
sions, Characteristics Relating to the Function of
the Product or Service, Reliability, Availability,
Taste, Effectiveness - Also Freedom from Defects.
Prices to Consumer (Initial Plus Life Cycle), Repair
Costs, Purchase Price, Financing Terms, Deprecia-
tion, Residual Value
Wait Times, Turnaround Times, Setup Times, Cycle
Ethical Business Conduct, Environmental Impact,
Business Risk Management, Regulatory and Legal
FIGURE 1: CUSTOMERS’ EXPECTATION OF SERVICE
4 CONTACT CENTER PIPELINE ❘ DEC 2015
Mike Maffei is Founding Partner of
Aledium Call Center HR Services.
He has 20+ years’ experience
working with leading companies to
transform contact center operations,
including identifying and attaining
critical success factors for Operational Excellence and
Customer Experience. (email@example.com)
PERFORMANCE MATTERS | QUALITY PROCESS PRINCIPLES FOR OPTIMAL PERFORMANCE
and begin the program over again, starting with
zero-defects day. This starting over again helps
quality to become ingrained in the organization.
W. EDWARDS DEMING:
QUALITY VS. COSTS
W. Edwards Deming is widely known as the
father of quality principles and for launching
the total quality management movement (TQM)
first outlined in his book Out of Crisis. Deming
taught that, by adopting appropriate principles
of management, organizations can increase
quality and simultaneously reduce costs (i.e.,
by reducing waste, rework and staff attrition
while increasing customer loyalty).The key is to
practice continual improvement.
When people and organizations focus pri-
marily on quality, defined by the formula below,
quality tends to increase and costs fall over
time. However, when people and organizations
focus primarily on costs, costs tend to rise and
quality declines over time.
Quality = Results of work efforts
10 KEY IMPLEMENTATION STEPS
Regardless of which quality principles or pro-
grams you decide to follow, there are 10 key
implementation steps that are imperative for
creating a genuine quality process program and
culture in your contact center.
1. Identify the business role of
the contact center and its core
functions and processes.
2. Identify key customers, along with
customer needs and expectations.
3. Accurately measure current
performance to determine baseline
4. Analyze and identify weaknesses
and opportunities in every process.
5. Develop and implement process
6. Strengthen your case for quality
processes. Explain how the solution
will fit into the organization.Who will
be affected? How?
7. Communicate with all levels in the
organization who may be affected
by your recommendation.
8. Review your implementation plan
9. Make sure everyone understands
why the solution is needed.
10. Be prepared to sell your
I encourage you to learn more about the dif-
ferent approaches discussed in this article.
Implementing a full-fledged quality initiative in
your contact center is not easy.
Your ultimate goal is to present solutions that
will work and will be accepted throughout the
organization. Creating a sense of urgency, along
with a well-thought-out, detailed quality process
plan will go a long way toward creating a culture
of involvement and success.
Continued from page 3