Six Sigma Your Contact Center

By Dr. Jodie Monger

The contact center is one of your organization’s most valuable assets. Ninety percent of your callers base their image of your organization on their experience with your call center. The contact center is (or should be) the center of the corporate universe. Why, then, is so much time spent by managers justifying its existence? Too often, high-level executives do not understand the value of the contact center to the company’s brand image or its contribution to shareholder wealth. Education within your company is your responsibility. How do you gain the positive attention to move the contact center into the center of the universe?

Many companies have been or are beginning to use the Six Sigma methodology to improve quality throughout their organizations. The beginning, middle, and end of this cycle of the Six Sigma process is the voice of the customer. A logical place to look for such information is in the contact center. Where else can the green and black belts, who are responsible for driving continuous improvement in the Six Sigma system, find the pulse of the customer?

Six Sigma provides a framework to identify your customer critical-to-quality metrics that lead to customer satisfaction and quantify the cost of poor quality. When routine customer interactions are not handled in the customer-correct standardized way, it is a defect and customers will be dissatisfied. As you identify and correct defects, resources are saved and the savings can be reinvested back into your processes to continue to increase customer satisfaction and organizational income. The cycle is quite powerful and is a competitive advantage.

Herein lies an opportunity to leverage the contact center. Make a connection with your company’s master black belt to let him or her know that the contact center is a Six Sigma resource and that you have opportunities for Six Sigma projects as well. Next to a manufacturing line, there are no other functions in an organization where the operational data is more readily available than a contact center. The ability to measure aspects of the function is critical to the Six Sigma effort – define, measure, analyze, improve, and control.

A Six Sigma project team requires the voice of the customer to determine a need for a project and to then determine the success of a project. In our effort to provide the mechanism to measure the quality of service delivery, completely automated telephone surveys of real-time customer feedback has provided the needed measurement for many Six Sigma projects.

The automated surveys also provide the channel for additional projects focused on other organizational aspects by also implementing additional fully automated telephone surveys in parallel. This ability affords the contact center the right to claim its status as the focal point of the organization. The contact center can implement a Six Sigma project related to call resolution while also fielding surveys to measure satisfaction with the billing process and the product quality/repair process. Essentially, you should become the go-to group for customer opinion measurement.

Be prepared for a change. The ability to measure customer opinion with a sound, inexpensive option has catapulted the status of contact center teams within the organizational hierarchy finally giving credit where credit is long overdue.

Jodie Monger, PhD, is the President of Customer Relationship Metrics, L.C. Prior to joining Metrics, she was the founding Associate Director of Purdue University’s Center for Customer-Driven Quality. For more information about completely automated telephone surveys contact Jim Rembach at 336-288-8226 or or call their demo line at 866-537-8500.

[For more information about Six Sigma, see What is Six Sigma?]

[For many organizations Six Sigma is simply means a measure of quality that strives for near perfection. It is a disciplined, data-driven approach and methodology for eliminating defects (driving towards six standard deviations between the mean and the nearest specification limit) in any process. The statistical representation of Six Sigma describes quantitatively how a process is performing. To achieve Six Sigma, a process must not produce more than 3.4 defects per million opportunities. A Six Sigma defect is defined as anything outside of customer specifications.]

[From the Fall 2003 issue of AnswerStat magazine]