Case 14-1 Using Quality tools

USING QUALITY TOOLS: Welz Business Machines sells and services a variety of copiers, computers, and other office equipment. The company receives many calls daily for service, sales, accounting, and other departments. All calls are han- dled centrally by customer service representatives and routed to other individuals as appropriate. A number of customers complained about long waits when calling for service. A market research study found customers became irritated if the call was not answered within five rings. Scott Welz, the company president, authorized the customer service department manager, Tim Nagy, to study the problem and find a method to shorten the call-waiting time. Tim met with his service representatives who answered calls (Robin Coder, Raul Venegas, LaMarr Jones, Mark Staley, and Nancy Shipe) to attempt to determine the reasons for long waiting times. The following conver- sation ensued: Nagy: This is a serious problem. How a customer phone inquiry is answered is the first impression the customer receives from us. As you know, this company was founded on efficient and friendly service to all our customers. It’s obvious why customers have to wait: You’re on the phone with another customer. Can you think of any reasons that keep you on the phone for an unnecessarily long time? Coder: I’ve noticed quite often the person I need to route the call to is not present. It takes time to transfer the call and see if it is answered. If the person is not there, I end up apologizing and transferring the call to another extension.

Nagy: You’re right, Robin. Sales personnel often are out of the office on sales calls, away on trips to preview new products, or away from their desks for a variety of reasons. What else might cause this problem? Venegas: I get irritated at customers who spend a great deal of time complaining about a problem I cannot do anything about except refer to someone else. Of course, I listen and sympathize with them, but this eats up a lot of time. Jones: Some customers call so often, they think we’re long-lost friends and strike up a personal conversation. Nagy: That’s not always a bad thing, you realize. Jones: Sure, but it delays my answering other calls. Shipe: It’s not always the customer’s fault. During lunch, we’re not all available to answer the phone. Venegas: Right after we open at 9 a.m., we get a rush of calls. I think many of the delays are caused by these peak periods. Coder: I’ve noticed the same thing between 4 and 5 p.m. Nagy: I’ve had a few comments from department man- agers who received calls that didn’t fall in their areas of responsibility and had to be transferred again. Staley: But that doesn’t cause delays at our end. Shipe: That’s right, Mark, but I just realized sometimes I simply don’t understand what the customer’s problem really is. I spend a lot of time trying to get him or her to explain it better. Often, I have to route it to someone because other calls are waiting. Venegas: Perhaps we need to have more knowledge of our products. Nagy: Well, I think we’ve covered most of the major reasons why many customers have to wait. It seems to me we have four major reasons: the phones are short-staffed, the receiving party is not present, the customer dominates the conversation, and you may not understand the customer’s problem. Next, we need to collect some information about these possible causes. Raul, can you and Mark set up a data collection sheet we can use to track some of these things? The next day, Venegas and Staley produced a sheet that enabled the staff to record the data. Over the next two weeks, the staff collected data on the frequency of reasons why some callers had to wait. The results are summarized as follows: Instructions: Form groups of three to five students and, based on the conversation between Nagy and his staff,

Questions to be answered: ( a couple paragraphs each)

2. Perform a Pareto analysis of the data collected.

3. Develop some possible actions that the company might take to improve the situation.

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