Many of you are probably familiar with Six Sigma as a method to continuously improve quality or efficiency. The Six Sigma method can be applied to production facilities, business processes and … your Customer Service Chain!

Six Sigma spans a number of areas but one part of Six Sigma that interests me specifically is called ‘Muda’ in Japanese and means ‘waste’. Removing waste from a process, product or service reduces cost, increases quality and improves consistency.

Let’s take a look at 8 specific forms of ‘muda’:

So how do these 8 wastes relate to your Customer Service Chain?

Talent: Not testing and thus not knowing your true employee skills means you cannot send interactions or work-items to make use of these valuable skills. It means you could be loosing-out on the time it takes to handle a certain task.

Inventory: Not knowing current state of your inventory means you cannot staff effectively and you may increase backlogs. Backlogs are costly for you and frustrating for your customers.

Motion: If you do not have visibility over how fast (or slow) work items move forward, then you cannot efficiently manage the service level you promised to your customers.

Waiting: With many BPM & CRM applications, work items sit there and wait until the organization is ready for the next step to be taken. It means service levels are under pressure and customers might start contacting you to understand what progress had been made on their request.

Transportation: A work item transported to the wrong employee results in valuable time being wasted and the work item needing to be transported to another employee. If this happens often then you are clearly wasting valuable time.

Defects: Because you might be transporting the work-items to unskilled employees, you could be introducing errors into the handling process or the customer request being fulfilled. Rework ratio’s go up, NPS scores go down but also employee satisfaction tanks.

Overproduction: Often there are many systems, processes or applications that produce too much work.  Employees do not know where to start and what work item have more priority than the other. Employees get stressed, start to make mistakes and the customer promise is not delivered.

Over processing: Some employees might be doing more work than others. While some meet their targets and do even more, others might be reading the daily newspaper over-and-over. Better management information and real-time visibility of what employees are doing will provide the right insight to take action.

While contact centers have done a pretty good job in removing ‘Muda’ from their real-time channels, for work items and back office operations the reality is often very different.

To learn how to remove waste from your back office or ‘off queue’ work items, watch this video.