Tag Archives: strategic performance

For More Effective Measurement, Put Away the Rulers

Is your organization struggling with strategic measurement? You may be tracking the wrong things.

Chris Abel is a simple man. So, he isn’t quite sure why call centers continue to struggle with measurement. Call Centers excel at measuring everything an agent does, he says, but not necessarily how what they do better serves the customer.

I sat down with Chris, who is Director of Contact Center Operations at Bright Horizons to get see what he would answer the question; ”How do you become the most high-performing call center possible?”

Chis Abel of Bright Horizons
Chis Abel of Bright Horizons

Chris Abel: For starters, leadership needs to move beyond KPIs and SLAs. The goal instead should be to predict customer’s future behavior since they will dictate how centers will operate. For instance, internally the bulk of conversation around customer experience centers on handle time and talk time. That’s not the case at Bright Horizons.

“The talk time is the talk time,” Chris says. “What we manage to is what we do during the call and after the call that actually impacts our overall business.”

The most valuable indicators to measure progress within the call center – beyond performance – is customer experience. Bright Horizons measures their customer experience through CSAT Scores and Net Promoter Scores. Fortunately, their CSATs are relatively high at 96 percent and their Net Promoter range between 67-78 percent. So the challenge then becomes how do you move the needle? What should the focus be to really impact experience?

Chris has an internal quality team that measures whether or not the agents are providing complete and accurate information. One of the things that they are implementing in regards to quality is defining the customer’s experience. Questions that need to be answered include, “Did we answer all of their questions? Did we help educate them on any future needs that could actually be addressed today so they don’t have to call back tomorrow?”

Looking forward, measurement may not change very much or at all, but Chris thinks that whatever the future of measurement is, it will be dictated by the customers.

“What’s important to them should be what’s important to us,” he says.

Lean Is Not an Initiative, But a Lifestyle

As a Lean leader, Mitch Sparber, the Head of HR Service Center Operations at Farmers Insurance, understands Lean isn’t an initiative, but a company-wide lifestyle. In this interview he shows how Farmers Insurance leverages lean concepts to streamline its operations to better serve the internal customer.

Building a lean culture takes time – what are your suggestions on managing expectations and setting realistic metrics along the way?
You are correct, Lean is a journey. It is important that leadership continually reinforces this with team members. While highlighting our Lean efforts during team meetings, I try to make an effort to remind everyone that Lean is not an initiative but an approach that we are trying to embed into our day-to-day activities.

Since success is highly dependent on engagement and commitment from everyone, it is also important to establish the ‘right’ pace of introducing Lean concepts and tools. Lean introduces new terminology, such as customer value-add and tools like time analysis. It is easy for employees to become frustrated in the application of these new concepts. As a Lean leader, I wanted to make sure I was personally involved in our initial Lean events. For example, during our first Kaizen (a four-day event to identify process improvements), I made it very clear to the team that while the outcome is important, it was even more important to me that participating team members obtain a solid understanding of how to use the various Lean tools to identify process improvements.

Finally, don’t forget to celebrate Lean achievements. Recognize the commitment being made by your team members. Leverage food days to celebrate the completion of a process improvement event. Provide special recognition to employees who achieve Lean certification.

Could you share with us how you use lean concepts to support your True North vision by providing all employees with a world-class HR experience?
One of the best examples of supporting our True North vision is by introducing the concept of communication cells. The communication cell is a 15-minute meeting during which a team meets to review and discuss the previous period’s performance, the work plan for the current day, KPIs and continuous improvement opportunities.

Similar to a team huddle, this daily meeting has been the catalyst for getting the team to begin to understand lean concepts. The daily meetings are centered around a Comm Cell board. These boards make information about people, performance, and process improvement easily available to all team members. This activity, coupled with a goal to improve communication between team members, supports our True North vision by leading to better customer service.

What are the top tools you use to engage HR employees in Lean?
We’ve implemented several tools around visual management to engage our employees in Lean. These tools make our progress and results visible. For example, we have our HR Lean News You Can Use bulletin board, which is located in a high-traffic employee area. HR Lean news and success stories including certification requirements and training dates are displayed in quick, easy-to-read formats.

In the true spirit of Lean, our team is constantly checking on its progress. We’ve posted our objectives, targets, and metrics. Making our results visible and linking them to strategic drivers of the organization has been a key focus. When people walk by and see it posted on the wall, they’ll start thinking about metrics in their own areas. By making them visual, people will learn to think about metrics as part of their daily work.

Is there a new or emerging technology you can point to that you think will transform Lean within HR Shared Services?
While I don’t see any special ‘technology’ to transform Lean within a team, I see an organization’s commitment to provide ongoing Lean education to all team members as a key driver of success. For us, all new hires are required to complete a one-hour e-Learning course on Lean. Within the first six months, we ask our newly hired employees to attend a Problem is a Buried Treasure course where employees learn about the 7 Wastes and problem solving techniques.

With this basic knowledge, we now encourage employees to complete their first process improvement exercise, called a “Just Do It” submission. Embracing a Lean learning environment during an employee’s introductory time with the organization allows us to develop a culture in which Lean is the way we do our work, not just something extra to do.