One of the organisations I am working with, a local council, has just done a small trial to test out different ways of taking calls. Originally they have calls, coming from a call centre, going into various departments - depending on the nature of the call.
So, the trial was getting wardens - that normally go on the streets and fix problems, to answer the calls. They also tried this with admin staff from the office.
Over two weeks, they found out one really important thing; that the wardens were able to understand the actual problem the caller was calling in for. In this system Over 50% of calls that come in a not exactly what the caller originally presents. So, a call for reporting a problem with noise, may actually be a neighbour dispute problem. So the wardens were able to have a good conversation to get to the heart of the matter.
When they tried to get cheaper admin staff to take the calls, they were not able to understand the calls in the same way. Almost all of them had to be passed on to others to resolve.
When the more expensive wardens take the calls, what does a manager think who has to cut further costs in the system? It is too easy to replace the wardens with admin staff.
The reality is that the wardens were able to resolve 25% of the incoming calls on the phone, without the need for passing on to anyone else to schedule a visit. For calls that they did not resolve there and then, the information was recorded and passed onto a warden, who then had a good understanding of the issue, to resolve the problem. Armed with this information, what decision would the manager now make?
Usually, using a functional model, the manager would hire cheaper staff to staff the phones. Making decisions based on functions, cutting across the workflow work, sub-optimises the flow, and the wrong decision is usually made. This result demonstrates that by understanding the work flow as a system, end to end, results in good information to make better decisions.
Get cheaper people in to staff the phones - it will reduce our costs
Maximise the value work when taking a call, and monitor the result
This is an example of systems thinking.
Helping others to do better things