If there is one thing today’s consumer expects, it would be excellent customer service. This holds true in both the business and private sectors, but unfortunately, many customer service call centers leave a lot to be desired.
Sometimes it’s an easy fix, and other times it means totally revamping the processes involved. Typical issues include such things as not providing timely responses to incoming calls or not having the ability to route a customer’s concern to the appropriate department or individual.
Perhaps it’s time to take a look at how adopting Lean Sigma Six strategies can have your customer service call center running like a well-oiled wheel.
Identify Key Issues
While it is important to learn Lean Sigma Six and Kanban as it relates to lean project management, the first thing you will absolutely need to do is identify key issues or problems your call center is having.
Typically, you will find that one problem call can disrupt the entire workflow within the department. Identify specific patterns resulting in issues that disrupt the workflow and then look at how Kanban Replenishment can direct where and how that call is handled.
Kanban software found at sites like kanbanize.com can help you set up the pipeline for how calls are answered and directed if more detailed information is required.
Direct Calls to the Appropriate Department
In an effort to run a cost-effective department, sometimes customer service reps are being required to answer queries beyond their scope of understanding. Instead of answering questions from a script, a Kanban pipeline can help the initial contact rep direct the call to the appropriate department.
Here, an available team member can pull a job (call) they are capable of dealing with. Yes, it will take some time initially to set up the routing pipeline, but once that’s in place, calls are handled efficiently and timely. Calls can be directed to tech support, sales, and other departments so that the customer reaches the person or persons who have the information they need.
Identify and Reduce Waste
One of the key areas of focus in lean management is to identify and reduce waste in processes. In a call center, this would almost always be time. How quickly are calls being answered, and are some calls being left on hold because reps are spending too much time with the previous call?
Typically, this requires monitoring calls as they are handled. Whether team leaders and department managers listen in real-time or not, it is vital to record incoming calls for later training purposes. Unfortunately, many reps are uncomfortable with this process, so make it clear that monitoring calls is a way to look for key issues that can be corrected once identified.
Provide Ongoing Training
There are several ways in which your customer service call center can approach training. Some companies have daily meetings by the team before the shift begins, and others pull teams to offer mini-seminars to work on key issues that a particular team is experiencing. Bear in mind that few companies today offer static products or services.
Some products/services will be dropped and then replaced by something else. This will almost always require customer service reps to be familiar with new additions so that they are better able to answer or direct calls. This is an area where many companies fall short. As often as you add or drop a product/service, you need to provide updated training.
A Final Note on Lean Project Management
The whole concept of Lean Sigma Six, Kanban and lean project management can be overwhelming at first. It would pay to send at least one person within management to Lean Sigma Six training so they can be certified.
Of course, you can hire a business consultant certified in Lean Sigma Six, but this is often lacking in that you will be calling them back time and again. It would be far better to have a project manager on-site to use lean project management throughout the entire company. Why stop with a call center? From production to sales and customer service, every department should be lean.
Lean Sigma Six, Kanban, and lean project management aim to increase profits most especially be reducing waste. Again, whether it’s wasted materials in other departments or wasted time and efficiency in your customer service call center, waste is waste.
For example, the average office worker wastes approximately 2 pounds of mixed paper every day. Wasted time in a call center is just as serious in terms of profitability, and so it bears continual monitoring and assessment to see just how much this is costing a company annually.
Lean project management and Kanban software can help save time and money if you let them work for you. In other words, go lean and watch your profits soar.