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A short story about structuring a department


John Smith is the manager of a customer service department that he had recently inherited.  He provides support for Internet and telephone services.  He has a staff of 50 employees who have different skill levels and technical expertise.  His department seemed to be doing fine, however, customers were complaining of bad service.  John made sure everyone was trained but the customers still kept on complaining.  He thought he had his department in order but there were no true goals or objectives set, nor was there a good way to capture the data.

John realized that he needed to come up with a plan to improve customer service.  He decided to dig deeper through departmental reports to see what was going on.  Unfortunately the reports did not show much as the data was too generic and meaningless. 

John met with key members of his staff to address the issues and map out a timeline to investigate and resolve the problems.  John also made customer satisfaction a prime objective and made sure his staff fully understood the targeted goal of high satisfaction percentages.   He delegated certain tasks such as updating and adding codes to the ticketing system.  This was done to track the root cause of the problems.  A customer satisfaction survey was also created and was sent out to each customer who recently dealt with customer service.  John also tracked how long the calls were on hold, how long each call took, etc.  Once the data was analyzed, he started finding trends.  

What he found was that technicians who were more inclined to work a case quickly, had more repeats due to not fixing it right the first time.  He also found that the technicians who took their time on a case, had less repeats, but longer customer hold times.  He found that certain technicians had better skills at Internet related issues than telephone related issues.  He found certain times of the day were much busier than others.  Customer survey results showed the main complaints were long hold times and repeated trouble.  He also found that more cases were opened in a certain area of the country than any other city.  This was due to network issues that were captured through his new coding system.

Through all of this analysis, John was able to determine how to structure his department.  He utilized his staff more efficiently by transferring them to the area that best suited their skills.  He organized a tiered system so that Tier 1 addressed the quick and easy issues, and Tier 2 addressed the long and more difficult issues.  He applied this system to both the Internet and telephone sides of the department.  He made seating arrangements that put them into smaller groups associated with the tiers.  He scheduled his techs accordingly to cover the busiest times of the day.  He also worked with engineering to investigate network related problems.  Engineering was able to find the problem due to the accurate data they received.

All of these changes directly improved hold times and repeated issues.  Customer satisfaction results went way up due to hold times and repeated problems going way down.  This also improved employee morale.  John made sure from this point on to always look for trends and structure his department based on a plan, not just because it seemed right.

Epilogue:  A solid plan to obtain the goals and objectives is mandatory.  You can then decide how to set your department based on the results of that plan.  John was able to hit all goals and achieve high customer satisfaction ratings by structuring his department to its optimal performance with little additional resources.  Most of what was covered in this story relates to the examples used in this lesson.

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