If you ask call center leaders to put up their one or two most important customer measures and their one or two most important shareholder measures and you ask them to graph them over time, you will likely observe two outcomes: 1) performance is mediocre (for example 85% compliance with required call components is often considered quite good in many centers), and 2) those mediocre measures are treading water. There is rarely any evidence of continuous improvement in the most critical center metrics.
Which seems odd because there are plenty of improvement projects throughout call centers. Every single call center on Earth has projects underway to increase performance. They could be technology upgrades. They could be the never-ending calibration meetings that will be used to evaluate agents. They could even be fairly sophisticated Black Belt-lead DMAIC improvement projects. But despite all these projects and programs, call center metrics show no signs of improvement.
Dr. W. Edwards Deming -- the late godfather of quality and operations improvement and the person credited with resurrecting Japanese manufacturing -- laid responsibility for quality and performance measures at the feet of management. Management designed the System that generates those outputs.
In contravention of Deming's approach, Call Centers put all their focus on the agents. The agents are constantly under a microscope. Deming would say that if the outputs of the center are not improving, it’s the efforts and activities of the designers of the System that need to be put under the microscope.
We have a Call Center Capability/Maturity model assessment that we walk through with call center leadership teams that are tired of living the Myth of Sisyphus (no change in results) and are ready to look in the mirror. Our model is built around the same principles Dr. Deming used to revitalize this nation's moribund manufacturing industry. The model places the emphasis on evaluating the System designed by management that produces, good or bad, the outputs of the call center.