Six Sigma Case Study
Handling Time Reduction at Call Center

This Six Sigma case study looks at how our client, a call center, was able to greatly reduce the average handling time of inbound calls.

The Problem

In this six sigma case study, we look at a call center with over 1,500 call agents. This call center receives thousands of calls per day.

Over the last two years, the call center has grown at a tremendous rate. The only way to keep up with the increase in business was to hire more call agents and increase the number of workstations.

This required further investment and further training - all which cost lots of money.

The call center needed to find a way to increase their capacity without additional cost and capital.

The Method

A project team was put together to find ways to reduce one of the main metrics at the call center - the average handling time (AHT). The AHT was, however, not the only output. The team had to make sure that reducing the AHT did not negatively affect any other company output (such as customer satisfaction or sales).

Since the AHT metric was measured automatically by the system from the start to end of every call, we were very confident of the measurement system. We could move straight to the analyze phase.

The team then performed an ANOVA, testing for significance of many possible inputs. As expected, the "call type" was the most influential input to the amount of time a call took.

Next, the team created value stream maps for the top 3 call types with the longest total call times. Many process steps were found to be waste - where they did not add any value to that particular call type. Non-value added steps were taken out of the process and the future state map was created.

Before implementing the future state, we had to verify that taking out the steps will not have an adverse impact on any other metrics. For example, it was standard practice on all call types to inform the customer about any new promotions, and to ask them if they would like to purchase. This step was taken out in the future state but we had to do the analysis to see if this step had actually brought in sales. As it turned out, the sales from this step were negligible for all call types except one - therefore it was taken out of all calls except for the particular call type where it worked.

The Result

The average handling time was brought down by 18%. This also meant capacity was increased by 18%. In a call center where there are thousands of inbound calls per day, this yielded savings in the millions of dollars per annum.

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