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Six Sigma in the Contact Center. Northwest Call Center Professionals Help Desk Northwest May 17, 2006 Mike Stone. Agenda. Introduction to Six Sigma Full Life-Cycle Case Study. Introduction.

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six sigma in the contact center

Six Sigma in the Contact Center

Northwest Call Center Professionals

Help Desk Northwest

May 17, 2006

Mike Stone

  • Introduction to Six Sigma
  • Full Life-Cycle Case Study

Six Sigmawas invented by Motorola, Inc. in 1986 as a metric for measuring defects and improving quality. Since then, it has evolved to a robust business improvement methodology that focuses an organization on customer requirements, process alignment, analytical rigor and timely execution.,,3074-5804,00.html

six sigma the ge way
Six Sigma, the GE Way
  • Six Sigma - A vision of quality which equates with only 3.4 defects per million opportunities for each product or service transaction. Strives for perfection.
  • DFSS – (Design for Six Sigma) is a systematic methodology utilizing tools, training and measurements to enable us to design products and processes that meet customer expectations and can be produced at Six Sigma quality levels. (DMADV - Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, Verify)
  • DMAIC – (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) is a process for continued improvement. It is systematic, scientific and fact based. This closed-loop process eliminates unproductive steps, often focuses on new measurements, and applies technology for improvement.


other quality systems
Other Quality Systems
  • Total Quality Management (TQM)
  • Toyota Production System (TPS)
  • Kaizen
  • Lean
  • Theory of Constraints
  • Agile
  • PDCA – Plan, Do, Check, Act
  • Good Manufacturing Process – Pharma
  • ISO 9000
key concepts
Key Concepts
  • A process is all the activities involved in producing a product or service for a customer. It is cross-functional in nature
  • Quality is defined by customer requirements for the chosen process
  • Defects are defined and counted
  • Inconsistencies in the process, known as variation, are studied
  • Causes of variation are identified and addressed






Team Chartering

Customer Focus

Process Mapping



Data Collection

Data Analysis

Process Analysis and Focus

Root Cause Analysis

Quantify Opportunity

Generate Solutions

Select Solutions

Implementation Planning

Monitor the Process



case study
Case Study

IT services business

Customer service call center

project selection
Project Selection
  • Business strategy
    • How important is customer satisfaction?
    • How important is it to attract new customers?
  • Competitive position
    • How do we compare to our competitors?
    • Benchmarking
  • Best projects
    • Issue is well-defined with supporting data
    • Scope is well-defined
    • Objectives are stated in business terms and are measurable
project selection12
Project Selection
  • Customer satisfaction
    • Average
    • Lower than best-in-class in industry
  • Positive correlation with account growth
    • Customer satisfaction and new accounts are statistically related to one another
    • Business judgment
  • No correlation with customer service spending
    • Per call costs were not higher at strong competitors
  • Goals: Reduce support costs while improving new account growth
  • Team Chartering
    • Goal statement: "Increase the call center's industry-measured customer satisfaction rating from its current-level (90th percentile = 75 percent) to the target level (90th percentile = 85 percent) by end of the fourth-quarter without increasing support costs.“
    • Milestones, tasks, responsibilities, schedule and communication plan.
  • Customer Focus
    • SIPOC diagram – identify customers (stakeholders)
      • Customers
      • Staff
      • Business
    • Voice of the Customer interviews
      • "What influences your level of satisfaction with our services?"
    • Summarize customer requirements
      • Identify measures for each requirement
      • Next slide
  • Process mapping
    • Helpful during the Measure phase, as the project team considers how and where to gather data that will shed light on the root cause of the issues most pertinent to the project's goals.
  • Define measures and how the data will be gathered
  • Example:
    • Customer Satisfaction
      • By industry standard monthly survey
      • The project will require additional, more frequent, case-by-case customer-satisfaction data. A measurement system that tracks with the industry survey will be devised and validated.
  • Define performance standards
  • Example:
    • Customer Satisfaction
      • Current Baseline
        • 90th Percentile / 70-80% Satisfied
      • Performance Target
        • 90th Percentile / 85% Satisfied
  • Identify segmentation factors for data collection plan
    • Focus data collection effort
    • Use cause-and-effect tools
    • How is Y naturally segmented?
      • Call center, product type?
    • What factors may be driving the Ys?
      • Take a guess at what your important Xs might be
      • Call type, customer type?
  • Assess measurement system
    • Accuracy
      • Does the measure agree with the “truth”?
    • Repeatability
      • Does the system always produce the same value?
    • Reproducibility
      • Will different people get the same results?
    • Stability
      • Is the system accurate over time?
  • Collect the data
    • Automated
    • Manual
    • New metrics may be needed
  • Display the data
    • Look for clues into causes of variation
    • Simple charts and graphs
  • Measure process capability
    • Compare current performance to standards
  • Refine improvement goals
    • Adjust goals if data shows departure from expectations
  • Segment data
    • Slice and dice data to look for patterns to find causes of variation
  • Identify possible Xs
    • “Likely suspect” causes of variation
  • Identify and verify the critical Xs
    • Narrow down to most important causes of variation
    • Why do Problems and Changes cost more than other call types?
    • Why are calls processed on Mondays and Fridays more expensive?
    • Why do transfer rates differ by call type? (higher on Problems and Changes, lower on others)
    • Why are wait times higher on Mondays and Fridays and on Week 13 of each quarter?
  • Refine the benefit forecast
    • Update the forecast of how much improvement can be expected
    • Found that key support cost drivers (the delays and interruptions during call-servicing) were the same as those known to drive down customer satisfaction – so a win-win seemed to be possible.
  • Identify Solution Alternatives
  • Verify the Relationships Between Xs and Ys
    • Solution Selection Matrix
      • Solution Alternatives
      • Customer Requirements (CTQs)
    • Regression Analysis
      • Determine the strength of each solution against the CTQs
  • Select and Tune the Solution
  • Details of the plan for the Monday staffing pilot program:
    • Xs to adjust: Staffing level (add five for pilot, full increment to wait for evidence plan works)
    • Ys to measure for impact and unintended side effects:
      • Wait time, v/s ratio, customer satisfaction, transfers, callbacks, service time.
      • Compare "new staff" versus "old staff" (hypothesis test).
      • Measure monthly to observe learning curve effect, if any

(continued on next page)

  • Details of the plan for the Monday staffing pilot program:
    • Measurement system issues: Revise existing sampling plan and data collection process to distinguish new staff from old staff.
    • Because the current customer satisfaction sampling gives only 1 data point per month (not enough to see a change), arrange a special sample – five per day for the first 60 days of the pilot (80 percent from existing staff, 20 percent from new staff).
    • People and logistics issues: Communicate what is happening and why. Emphasize evaluation is not of individuals, only overall impact.
  • Implement Solution
    • Pilot, if possible
  • Collect data during pilot
    • Xs and Ys
    • Watch for unintended impacts
  • Report out and obtain approval for full implementation
  • Develop Control Plan
    • Management control dashboards – Ys
    • Operational control indicators – Xs
  • Determine Improved Process Capability
    • Business Growth
    • Customer Satisfaction
    • Support Cost per Call
    • Days to Close
    • Wait Time
    • Transfers
    • Service Time
  • Implement Process Control
    • Ongoing data collection and presentation
  • Close Project
    • Roll out process changes
      • Training
      • Transition control to management
      • Validate results
      • Refinements
    • Project post mortem
  • ANOVAANalysis Of VAriance (ANOVA), a calculation procedure to allocate the amount of variation in a process and determine if it is significant or is caused by random noise.
  • Cause and Effect DiagramA cause and effect diagram is a visual tool used to logically organize possible causes for a specific problem or effect by graphically displaying them in increasing detail. It helps to identify root causes and ensures common understanding of the causes. It is also called an Ishikawa diagram.
  • Control ChartA graphical tool for monitoring changes that occur within a process, by distinguishing variation that is inherent in the process (common cause) from variation that yield a change to the process (special cause).
  • Kano AnalysisKano analysis is a quality measurement tool used to prioritize customer requirements based on their impact to customer satisfaction.
  • ParetoThe Pareto principle states that 80% of the impact of the problem will show up in 20% of the causes. A bar chart that displays by frequency, in descending order, the most important defects.
  • Run ChartA performance measure of a process over a specified period of time used to identify trends or patterns.
  • X-Bar and R ChartsThis set of two charts is the most commonly used statistical process control procedure. Used to monitor process behavior and outcome overtime.
  • The Six Sigma Way: How GE, Motorola, and Other Top Companies are Honing Their Performance by Peter S. Pande, Robert P. Neuman, Roland R. Cavanagh
  • Fourth Generation Management by Brian L. Joiner
  • Leading Six Sigma by Ronald D. Snee and Roger W. Hoerl
  • The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Six Sigma by Marsha Shapiro and Anthony Weeks
six sigma in the contact center38

Six Sigma in the Contact Center

Mike Stone

Mobile: (206) 779-3105