The days of Six Sigma being a manufacturing application only are long gone. It is now a business improvement initiative widely used across all industries. Call centers thrive in data and processes and aim for high levels of customer satisfaction, making them ideal candidates for the application of Six Sigma projects.

First Contact Resolution Improvement

Customer loyalty to an organization ties directly to ease of doing business. When someone contacts a call center they have some form of need. At the end of their contact the expectation is that their need has been met. Issues not resolved the first time not only increase consumer effort and decrease satisfaction, but also add to internal call center costs, as a second contact is likely required. Identifying call types and reasons for non-issue resolution is a critical element to the future of your business as well as minimizing internal expenditure.

Call Handle Time Reduction

Time is money for call center operations. Not only does call center management want calls to be of minimum length, but consumers also want to be serviced in a timely manner. Average handle time is a common metric to establish a baseline. Tread carefully with this one. Cutting call handle times is easy to accomplish. The key is to do so in a way that does not negatively impact resolution rate and customer satisfaction. Look at how agents are handling key call drivers, use call monitoring to identify process inefficiencies and even look at the systems supporting agent desktops. Eliminate waste and maximize agent knowledge, and it will be a win-win situation for all concerned.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Optimization

This technology might be saving you money in the short term, but it could be frustrating your customers and preventing you from turning the benefits into long-term gain. Reducing consumer effort is critical. Putting them through an endless maze of automated voice responses or push button selections before finally landing at a live agent is likely to dissatisfy. This is an important technology that people do expect to encounter in today’s environment, even if they don’t necessarily like it. The key is optimization. Make the flow of options as user friendly as possible. Design the call flow tree to match current call driver types, putting main issue options that can be solved without agent intervention further up the selection ladder. Make it easy, keep consumers happy, and maintain the financial benefits that this technology can provide.

Attrition Rate Reduction

High staff turnover in call centers is commonplace. Take the time to figure out how to reduce this. If many people are leaving an organization, it is a good indicator that a problem exists and needs attention. High attrition leads to higher costs. Training new staff costs money, and rookie agents are unlikely to serve your customers as well as agents with significant tenure. Survey your staff—anonymously if required—to find out their concerns and what motivates them. Also, consider focus groups conducted by a senior staff member. Act on the findings, measure the change and make sure benefits are sustainable over time.