Does the output need to be error free or is “80% good”, good enough? To be effective as an operations leader, and to successfully drive business results, we must understand when and how to apply these two different business concepts. We must execute with both quality and speed. Error Free: Error free outputs (e.g. documents, reports, online content) are just what they sound like – error free. The recipients or users of the output can assume that every data element has been checked and re-checked; that the information comes from a trusted “gold source” and that the data was pulled and massaged correctly. Business outputsRead More →

Yesterday, two co-workers and I met with a consultant who specializes in process excellence coaching for senior leaders. The purpose of his visit was to gather baseline information, in preparation for a formal coaching session in November. He came equipped with a list of questions to better understand our business, and there was one that really stood out. He asked, “What percentage of work time are your employees able to leverage their full potential and use all of their skills and talents?” The three of us thought for a moment, and I replied 40%, one coworker said 60% and the third settled in on 50%.Read More →

I learned about the importance of “the scary slide” from one of my favorite bosses at Monster.com.  She was a leader who always knew exactly what to say and how to say it in any situation. Her communication skills were (are) at the expert level. A scary slide is a slide that you create and insert at the beginning of a presentation to grab your audience’s attention and motivate them to listen to what you have to say next. Scary slides are powerful. Here’s why… They are unexpected. Most Powerpoint presentations follow a standard flow: title slide, agenda and overview.  We do not expect toRead More →

Flying into every meeting with the right charts and graphs, waving the influence wand to make products defect free and removing those boulders of productivity.. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s “CustomerSat Kat“…one of the first, customer support intelligence superheroes. Do you have the goods to create customer support intelligence superheroes in your department? Every customer contact, every e-support request, every tech support problem should be considered a learning opportunity for the organization at large. More specifically, an opportunity that can help the organization improve products & services, elevate the customer experience, reduce costs and drive sales revenue. You can make this happen, byRead More →

I like process. I like order. I like predictability. However, I have learned that managing change is messy. Dave Wieneke reminded me of this again yesterday while I attended his presentation called “The 7 deadly sins of business innovation”. Among other great insights, Dave reminded the audience that “your business is not a project, so don’t manage it that way”. (Learn more about Dave on his website www.usefularts.us ) In most corporate America environments, we try to manage most things like a project. Initiatives have kick-offs, due dates, budgets and “SLT” sign off. We have detailed Excel docs with deliverables and owners. Before we approveRead More →

In most cases when I have to call a customer service or tech support department, I expect the worst…..long and confusing phone menus (cable TV), continual transfers to get you to the right person (banks), long wait times (the recording, “we are experiencing higher than average call volume”, is always on) and frustrating conversations with employees who may or may not have the appropriate training. But, I absolutely LOVE Go Daddy technical support. I store all of my domains with Go Daddy and use them for website and blog hosting. Because I use so many different services across numerous sites, I occasionally need help andRead More →

A technical support capacity plan, also called a resource model, is used to estimate the required human resources (FTEs) and related costs during a designated, future time period and is often a key input for the annual, budget planning process. In most cases, labor is the largest component of a tech support department’s expenses. Capacity planning is both an art and a science. Even with all of the data in the world there is no way to project the future with 100% certainty, so you must add in your leadership experience and judgment, i.e. the art, to create the best plan possible. We must expectRead More →

Most customer experience maps exclude one of the most important, most influential indicators related to driving loyalty, which is customer emotion. Bored during Hurrican Irene, I was perusing Twitter updates and stumbled upon a link called “Mapping The Emotional Customer Experience”. I clicked to learn more, because the topic sounded intriguing. The related projects I had been involved in to date were all process or technically oriented and did not consider emotions or feelings. I clicked on the link and spent quite awhile reading an article and then listening to a webinar called, “See What Your Customers See: Mapping Your Real Customer Experience” from BeyondRead More →

Q4 is approaching and it will soon be time to evaluate and update your technical support organization’s customer focused metrics for 2012.  To get started, I recommend that you consider customer metrics in two categories, “work in process” and “service delivery”. Work in process metrics focus on the cases or tickets that are still open and include measurements such as backlog, backlog ratio, average age and internal service level achievement. Service delivery metrics focus on the end of the support process, at the time or after the service has been delivered. These measurements include SLA (also called average days to close) and customer satisfaction. Today’sRead More →

Just talking to our employees may be one of the most powerful levers to improving business performance. I have been involved in countless process and results improvement projects over the years and have noticed a specific trend. We often make the problems more complex than they need to be and, as a result, overlook one of most obvious solutions – simply discussing the problem with our team members. This is SO important because I have proof that a simple conversation between a leader and a team member happening just one time is enough to drive lasting improvement in results. Why? We often assume that theRead More →