Is it possible to have 99.99966% good customer service?

What if someone said it’s possible to have only 3.4 bad customer care interactions out of every million? You’d probably laugh them out of the room. Although you may never achieve that near-perfect state, implementing Lean Six Sigma (LSS) methodology and other Business Process Improvement (BPI) practices in your contact center operation will at least bring your KPIs closer to customer service utopia.

TELUS International’s Global Director of Business Process Excellence, Anna Kozlova, shares some of her first-hand experience implementing LSS and other BPI practices.

What’s your role at TELUS International?

Anna Kozlova (AK): As the leader of our Business Process Excellence team, I break down complex business problems by cutting out waste and reducing rework, one process step at a time.

At TELUS International, we believe in empowering our people to utilize the right tools to solve the right problem. It’s my job to enable that across our operations, using LSS and other techniques like process mapping, data gathering and analysis, knowledge management, training and best practice sharing. All of these help us drive process improvements and cost savings for our clients.

What types of customer care operational challenges are suitable for Lean Six Sigma (LSS) projects?

AK: Anything that has a process! Ten years ago, bad service may have impacted 20 people, but with today’s technology, it can impact 20 million. We think of LSS as a tool to reduce customer challenges, so we start with understanding customer needs and work backwards from there. This means focusing on projects that will reduce wait times, transfers, callbacks and other inefficiencies that adversely affect the customer experience.

Which customer service KPIs can be improved through LSS methodology?

AK: Although almost any metric can be improved through LSS, at TELUS International, we are enhancing our approach to traditional metrics like customer satisfaction. We understand that customers are looking for an effortless experience. By focusing on the customer, we’re able to improve on some unique KPIs that are emerging, such as contacts per customer, first call resolution, turnaround time and call transfers.

Are there limitations to LSS methodology in the contact center environment?

AK: Most process improvement tools can be applied in a contact center environment, but it’s crucial to remember the human factor at play. Six Sigma is based on data-driven decision-making to eliminate defects and reduce variation. But customers are rarely that predictable! Still, we can quantify “proxy” metrics. For example, customer effort can have a simple scale of 1 to 5. As long as we remember that we’re dealing with people, and that 3.4 in 1 million defects is probably impossible to achieve, we’re headed in the right direction.

As a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, can you share an example of a successful project?

AK: For one project, the objective was to reduce repeat service calls to a customer’s house. Through data mining, we selected 10 different inputs to test for statistical significance. We found that sending the same technician to the house for the second visit increased the chances of fixing the issue by 25%. I devised a coding method to auto-data scrape the troubles from the past month and connect them with troubles for the following day. If there was a match, the dispatcher would schedule the same technician for the job. This worked about 50% of the time, but the benefits added up to $59K/month. A great example of BPI in action!

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