Do you ever think that some of the management books and technical jargon are far more complicated than they really need to be? A recent podcast by the Freakonomics team reminded me of some simple service “production line” stuff that seems to get forgotten.
Over the years, I have worked in many claims processing systems, and we undertook the usual “work-flow” analysis of all the steps – the usual post-it notes on the wall etc – we’ve all done it.
There were 300 steps.
When you look at which ones actually add value, there were only three (I’ve worked with many teams – it always boils down to three steps):
All the other steps were there to patch-up all the other steps that weren’t working properly.
The team realised that they were actually spending time doing part of the work, finding themselves in the position of not being able to complete it, asking for more information, whilst the customer would phone into a separate help-desk in need of assistance. This would be repeated on a number of occasions over a lengthy period of time. Stylistically, spending 4 lots of 15 minutes over the period of about a month:
The team I was working with experimented with a “Right-first-time” approach. The experts in the process (rather than the administrators) spent a little longer with each customer, working out the best and quickest way to complete each transaction. Where the work could not be completed, they examined why this was, and looked for different ways to improve this too.
Within a few weeks, half of all claims were being completed within 1 hour. And the average time for all claims reduced from 13 days end-to-end 6.5 days. It looked more like this:
Why does this matter?
- It’s great customer service.
- It costs less too.
For half of the customers, we had taken away the need for them to call in chasing their claims – a saving of over £100,000.
A systemic solution, that saved money, and improved customer service – perfect!