The globalization of the contact center industry has created a competitive environment which demands that companies not only meet client expectations, but do so as efficiently as possible. Many in the field are finding that integrating a data driven approach for creating and improving processes provides the methodology for implementing change and improvement.
One such methodology is DMAIC. A Six Sigma tool, DMAIC is a scientifically proven process that ensures continuous performance improvement. It stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. Many companies use this method because it provides a closed loop and thus eliminates unproductive steps. DMAIC works well because it looks at the inputs and processes used to influence the output.
Here are the five steps in detail.
Step 1: Define
This is the starting point, which sets your project for success. Three main things need to take place at this stage
- Setting the goals – what are the problems and the key metrics? Set the tasks, milestones, responsibilities, deliverables and a communication plan. All these should summarized into 1 goal statement for example; Increase the contact center customer satisfaction from 60% to 80% by the end of the 3rd quarter without increasing operating costs.
- Chartering the team – Who are the stakeholders? Identify the stakeholders and their roles. These may include customers, management and staff. You will require training the staff in the DMAIC process at this stage too.
- Mapping the process – what is the scope? This is the how and where to gather the data. It will help you to know the problematic areas.
Step 2: Measure
If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. The measurement step is critical to the success of your project because it helps you know where you stand. Do not rely on your gut feeling, but use data and facts to make decisions.
You will do the following:
- Identify and define key metrics – what data is available? For example, data collected from customer surveys.
- Design and develop a data collection plan
- Assess the measurement systems for accuracy, stability and repeatability.
- Collect the data – manually, automated and new metrics as you see fit.
- Display the data by using charts and graphs – to help you detect any variations.
Step 3: Analyze
Analyze stage is all about getting to know the root cause of the problem. It helps you look at the genesis of the problem as opposed to treating the symptoms. To carry out a proper data analysis, do the following:
- Measure process capability – compare the current performance to industry standards.
- Root cause analysis – you can use a cause and effect diagram to get to what may be the root problems. Other tools can generate the root problem.
- Identify possible factors that affect your output and are causing variations- for example, why are wait times higher on Fridays?
- Refine improvement goals based on the above outcomes – a better forecast is possible.
Step 4: Improve
The rubber meets the road here. You have defined, measured and analyzed your data; it is time to improve your processes based on the insights gathered. These are the mini steps you take to improve:-
- Generate creative solutions – use various techniques to test and verify solutions. For example, will you add staff on Friday to reduce the wait rate or serve customers through other channels?
- Select the most viable solution – verify the relationship between your goal and suggested solution.
- Implement the solution – you can use a pilot program and measure it, if satisfied with the results then use apply it.
Step 5: Control
Last but most important is the control step. This is the manage part of the first statement. The purpose of this step is to successful implementation of the recommended solutions.
- Develop a control plan – how will the management and operations monitor the implementation. For example, the supervisors to ensure enough staff are present on Friday.
- Implement the process control – document all the data and start the implementation process.
- Rollout the project – include things like training of the staff for a successful outcome.
Bringing it together
The DMAIC process is simple and flexible to use. The systematic nature gives you a structure that ensures you will not miss any step. Do you have a process improvement project? Just Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control for successful and sustainable solutions.