A client told me last week that his group chief executive turned up and questioned his measures in the contact centre. The client knew that what mattered to his customer was to have calls handled one stop, so that is what he measured. He still captured data on time to answer, abandon rate, and time per call but this was kept away from front line staff and used for resource planning purposes. The group chief exec said it was silly to try to handle calls one stop as better service would cost more money, and anyway customers didn’t care how many people they spoke to, just so long as they got their call answered.
The problem is that because the group chief exec says it, then it must be true, mustn’t it? Probably not. In my experience the more senior the executive the less they really know about what matters to customers, and what’s going on in the work. In other words they make assumptions, assumptions that can be very damaging to the business.
In this case the client had data, he showed the group chief exec the demand analysis and let him listen to some calls. It was clear that customers who got passed around the business either got angry or hung up.
We had also done some analysis on cost. We found that initially learning how to handle more variety took a bit longer, but overall call volume dropped because we stopped people having to call back. And within a short while the time taken to handle the call was no longer than it was in the old system, and though the customer was getting what they wanted more often.
Assumptions without data are dangerous. Here are a list of poor assumptions that we frequently make in both the private and public sector, much to our cost.
- Measuring activity is a good thing.
- People have control over their behaviour at work.
- It’s better to measure unit cost rather than measure end to end
- Targets work
- Incentives work
- Giving people a due date in projects will make them deliver on time
- Putting low cost low skilled staff at the front of a system will reduce costs
- Off shoring work will mean you make more money
- The public sector is different from the private sector
- Management should be remote from the work
- Government KPIs provide the right information
Most managers don’t challenge their current assumptions because they have little data with which to make informed decisions; it’s not their fault, it’s the system. I promise you that if you take one of the assumptions I have listed above, pertinent to your situation, and go and get some data you will learn something astonishing about your system. It really all depends on whether you are brave enough to challenge your current assumptions. Are you?
As usual let me know
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