A Quick Primer in Business Process Improvement
As the name suggests, BPI is all about optimizing what your business does every day. There are lots of frameworks and methodologies for BPI, but one of the most reliable and popular is known as “Six Sigma.” When it comes to BPI, Six Sigma breaks things down into five phases:
• Define: You understand exactly what you are trying to improve and the business processes that can impact that.
You need to enhance customer satisfaction and retention, so you start by looking at procedures for handling customer service calls and complaints.
• Measure: Once you know the processes you need to improve, you put measures in place to understand how they are performing right now.
You decide to measure how long it takes to answer the phone and the number of issues that can be resolved the first time a customer calls.
• Analyze: You take your measurements and carry out analysis to find problematic areas and the causes of the problem.
You discover that you have the longest wait times and lowest first-time fix ratings between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. This is due to experienced staff going on a lunch break.
• Improve: You make improvements, typically one or two at a time to help processes work better. After this, you would measure and analyze again to see if the changes have had the desired outcome.
You provide extra training to junior staff and provide incentives for your more experienced staff to vary their lunch breaks. You see significant improvements in call handling and complaint resolution the first time a customer calls.
• Control: Once you have the right improvements in place, you create operational measures to prevent things failing again and take action if they're in danger of doing so.
You get your customer service supervisor to review call handling times and first-time fix rates on a weekly basis. If you see negative trends, you can dig into the data and take action.