Presented by: BCG International
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For two years the Help Desk call center for a Fortune 500 company had been experiencing severe problems. Calls had an abandon rate of 34%, frequently the ASA was 45 minutes plus, and performance was not volume sensitive.
Erin Ashe*, a help desk executive was called in to take over the operations. With a new management team and an outside consulting group, BCG International, the call center had improved statistics across the board by 72% in 5 months. Within 8 months, performance had increased by 93% and was recognized by a benchmarking firm as a World Class Performer. Even more amazing, not one employee was lost in the process
IN THE BEGINNING
The help desk support was for customized software. When Ashe began there was no process allowing for the scheduling of the analysts or to forecast expected performance. To resolve workflow problems the former manager had increased head count without effecting improved performance.
“We needed a paradigm shift, old managers were tied to the old processes.” Her new management team was motivated, however they lacked expertise. Therefore Ashe opted for outside consulting support. “Re-engineering cannot be accomplished internally with your own resources. The expertise and resources required are intensive and emotional,” said Ashe. She was recommended to Chad Burbage of BCG International.
THE PROGRAM IS INITIATED
BCG consultants familiarized themselves with the organization concluding the following problems were causing poor performance, dissatisfied customers and escalating costs:
No system to track the work
Analysts were not always available when system problems arose
Internal meetings took priority over call handling
The floor plan was not conducive for floor management
What schedules existed were not trusted and were used infrequently
Managers and Team Leaders were not on the floor managing
Managers and Team Leaders were not managing the calls to the best resolution, but answering calls themselves
Analysts did not understand the need for effective call management
When management and BCG agreed on the changes and how they would be implemented, Ashe recalls breaking it to the teams. “I told them up front about the hard road ahead, what we were going to do and what could be expected to effect the long term benefits of the changes.” The organization would move from a laissez-faire management system to what initially appeared to be one of micro management of the day to day.
The work had to be determined and quantified. Within a week, we had established a calls per hour to determine workload, schedules and individual performance. The calls/work flowing in and out had to be easily controlled.
In addition, all meetings were canceled except for a manager’s plan not to exceed 2 hours of critical meetings daily. Management Planners were initiated. Analysts were put on a start/stop, lunch, break, meeting and other work schedule. The key to the success of the schedules was reasonableness. Instead of taking calls, managers were required to be on the floor managing for planned periods, taking an active management role.
Analysts were rotated as team leaders so they could appreciate the rigors and importance of the schedule. All players were given manageable expectations.
ROADBLOCKS TO CHANGE
As BCG had predicted, the morale faded. Employees were feeling over managed and over watched. To improve the atmosphere, daily rounds were initiated to gather performance input from team members. Feedback from the team became essential.
Another roadblock that impacted morale more than changes in processes, was the executive management. Due to a history of poor performance, many executives did not believe the changing statistics to be permanent. Managers were continually called into meetings for constant clarification of positive results. Only BCG and the management team felt certain that the improvements would last.
Accurate and proven schedules created by the managers and team leaders with forecasting capability based upon desired productivity, ASA and abandon rates are second nature and are managed. A team leader remarked, “When I manage the calls to the best resolution using the schedule that I helped develop, I am able to complete more calls as a team leader than as an analyst taking individual calls.”
Another result was the identification of very effective analysts who had been deprived of any recognition or motivation. Many analysts who were achievers had been slacking off because their high level of achievement had not been noticed. There was no incentive to work hard and still be lumped in with those who contributed to the poor performance of the help desk. With expectations and accountability, the achievers excelled again – satisfied that their co-workers were being held accountable.
There was a surprise. There was no turnover. Not one person left the team, which saved recruiting and training costs. The discipline in work habits had a direct correlation with the level of job satisfaction. With each member of the team carrying their expected weight, it became vogue to be part of a successful organization.
The program had achieved some amazing results:
72% improvement in calls per paid hour
22% to 90% decrease in the Average Speed of Answer
46% to 60% decrease in overall call handle time (talk + after call), with a virtual elimination of after call.
107% increase in TSF
Each queue is able to handle more work with fewer resources while increasing customer satisfaction, translating into a cost avoidance equivalent to 30% of total payroll or $1,485,000 annually without factoring anticipated growth. BCG International finished monitoring the help desk with the completion of the customary post program audit three months after the completion of the Performance Enhancement Partnership Program had concluded. The help desk call center continued to improve. An outside benchmark review was conducted showing an overall improvement in performance of 93% and designated the Help Desk a World Class Performer.
“Performance re-engineering requires tireless follow through”, states Ashe. “If the processes are let to slip, then the old routines quickly fly back. The key to a successful process is discipline to structure the team. Without it, the group will fall apart and go back to the way they were.”
*Erin Ashe is not her real name
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