I have dreaded being on the phone with my cell phone provider for about an hour and a half so that I could add something as simple as a roaming data plan on my phone, which should have only taken 15 minutes at the most. While I was listening to the “calming” yet irritating string orchestra on hold music, three words resonated in my head: Lean Six Sigma, which is what this cell phone company needs in a bad way. I assume these telecommunication companies should know how important the customer experience is, they just need the right tool to improve the quality of customer service.
This blog describes how telecommunication companies can use some Lean Six Sigma techniques to provide exceptional service and dominate their industries.
Understand the basics customer requirements
The latest and greatest technology doesn’t benefit me as a customer when the service I received was terrible (though I should be glad that they did change my phone plan at a result). Typically, my experience with telecommunication companies goes like this: During a call, I was transferred and put on hold several times to be served by different customer representatives each time. Every time, an agent would confirm my basic information and I would have to repeatedly explain my request/question. I would consider myself lucky if they didn’t drop my call; otherwise, I would have to start all over again.
In summary, here are some basics facts that these companies need to know from a customer’s perspective:
No long wait time to receive service by an agent
Minimize the number of time for customers to repeat the request to numerous representative
No drop call by customers’ phone companies that claim to provide great telephone service
There are many tools available to telecommunication companies, e.g. customer surveys, focus groups, market research, and best practices to understand the Voice of the Customer (VOC). For instance, if the telecommunications undertake a customer survey with the focus in on the triggers that make its clients dissatisfied and find solutions to fix them, it is more likely to dominate its industry.
Maximize the Flow of Information Across the Value Stream
Seamless data integration is one of the fantastic features that telecommunication companies promote with the cell phone technology they sell; however, this best practice seems to be missing from their internal processes. As a business client, I can call our telecommunications company to obtain information about our business account but the agent would need to transfer me to another department to obtain information about my personal products. As mentioned before, every time I move from one agent to another, I encounter more waiting and more duplication (providing the same information over again). My perception as a consumer is that the company is disorganized and not efficient.
With Lean Six Sigma, the telecommunication companies can optimize their internal processes, eliminate or minimize all non-value added tasks and thus reducing their costs and improving my satisfaction. The company can create a process in which information flows smoothly and seamlessly across the process and is automatically repurposed thus eliminating the need for that second agent to ask for the information again.
Reduce or eliminate billing errors
Finally I want to talk about billing errors. The telecommunication company has over-charged me, I spend 1 hour on the phone to get it corrected and in return they offer me a discount usually 5% or 10% off my next bill. So I spent 1 hour each of my time and the company’s, and higher cost for them, and well I am still not happy.
With Lean Six Sigma, Telecommunication companies can conduct and assessment and identify the defects in the process that are creating billing errors and design error proof methods to ensure the occurrence of the error happening in the future is minimized or better yet eliminated.
I, as a customer, have provided telecommunications companies with compelling reasons why they need Lean Six Sigma.
My challenge to the telecommunications companies over the next 6 months implement lean six sigma, decrease your costs, improve your performance and create the customer experience we want. If not, be prepared when your competitor does.
Telecom Companies I Challenge You!!
Valuable Lean Six Sigma Resources
The following URLs provide great additional information on Lean 6 Sigma
Toppazzini and Lee Consulting Lean 6 Sigma Consulting at -Lean Six Sigma Consulting
Linkedin Six Sigma Group at http://www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=37987&trk=anet_ug_hm
ISixSigma web site at www.isixsigma.com
ASQ web site at www.asq.org