Local Improvement Team Case Study
This short case study demonstrates how the problem-solving process works. The case presented here is based on the work of a Team of telephone operators in a large bank. They handled an average of 500 customer calls daily.
Step 1 - Identifying, Selecting, & Redefining the Problem.
Bank surveys had indicated that callers tended to become irritated when the phone rang six or more times before it was answered. Because first impressions are important to customers, the team decided to solve these two related problems:
- Delays in answering
- Unnecessary switching from extension to extension
Step 2 - Identifying Possible Causes
The team first discussed the present system of answering, calls and the potential reasons for making the customer wait.
To do this, they used a Cause & Effect Diagram, brainstorming all possible causes.
Step 3 - Identify Temporary Fixes. None.
Step 4 - Identify Root Causes.
Because the operators did not have information which indicated which were the most likely causes, they devised checklists to record the number of delayed calls over a two-week period, and the reason for the delay. The categories were:
- A - Only one of two operators at each station
- B - Receiving party not present
- C - No one present in department receiving call
- D - Department/name of receiving party not given
- E - Other
This data was arranged in a Pareto Chart which clearly indicates that almost half of the delayed calls occurred when one of the two department operators was not on duty.
Step 5 - Identify Possible Solutions
Using brainstorming, the team generated several potential solutions designed to solve the primary causes of the problem.
- Always have two operators on duty at each station
- Have employees leave messages when leaving desks
- Compile a directory of staff members and job titles