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Code 3® Launches a Perfect Order Initiative
The “Perfect Order” is the goal of most companies – to deliver to the customer exactly what the customer perceived he ordered: on-time, at cost, and at the desired quality expected. But if the product doesn’t meet expectations, the customer has to send it back and have it changed or replaced – and re-work costs pile up.
Code 3® Inc recently partnered with the Workforce Solutions Group of St. Louis Community College to try and reduce re-work caused by customers not receiving exactly the light bar product they thought they ordered. Many companies might jump to the conclusion that Customer Service representatives just “need more sales training.” However, Code 3 employs many process improvement strategies, including Lean Six Sigma manufacturing and ISO (International Standard Organization) and understands that many processes and people are involved in good customer service.
With the assistance of Ellen Irons, senior instructional designer and performance consultant for the Workforce Solutions Group, Code 3 invested in a front end assessment of the issue. Kerry Schulte, customer service manager for Code 3 shared details of the customer service representatives’ backgrounds and of the on-line ordering interface “C3Vue” or also known as the “Configurator.” Nathan Rosenfeld, technical services manager for Code 3, also provided extensive technical background.
Nathan worked with Ellen to identify technical information about light bars that would assist Code 3 customer service representatives (CSRs) identify order entry errors before they were finalized into drawings for production. Nathan shared existing Code 3 metrics tracking root cause of errors and discussed relevance to CSR’s role in the process. Ellen also interviewed many of the CSRs and examined possible other sources where error could be introduced.
This performance-based approach resulted in an in-depth analysis of all primary factors contributing to the cause of re-work. Elements most related to upgrading the skills of the customer service representatives were then isolated and a 6 hour class developed based on the thirteen most common configuration entry errors. A case study approach was taken for class design, with the examples taken from the real-life on-line ordering interface “C3Vue.”
Nathan Rosenfeld also served as the instructor for the customized, interactive course that was presented to a group of customer service representatives. The customized course, developed by the Workforce Solutions Group, narrowed in on examples that involved a break-down of determining what is the problem with this order, what do you think the customer really wanted, what questions do you need to ask to clarify the order, and what are some solutions for this situation. The case studies were reviewed in class in detail and then each CSR was expected to practice these examples after the class and write up their findings to be reviewed and improved upon. This transfer of classroom learning to on-the-job practice was an essential key success factor for this project.
Since the class, Code 3 reports that the CSRs have fully adopted the new knowledge and are applying the examples to new real customer situations. A process for communications between technical service and customer service has been set up. Existing metrics for errors and re-work are being examined to see the results of the new behaviors, with a more fined-tuned metrics system being planned to allow seeing more visibility to the separate impacts of CSRs and other possible sources of error.
Nathan was very pleased with the degree that the participants adopted the new information. He stated:
“I was very impressed with the response and immediate improvement from all the individuals who attended. Ellen did a tremendous job of taking a huge amount of raw content and forming it into an organized and easy-to-understand complete training module.”
In addition, both Kerry and Nathan agree that their departments are working together much more closely than before. Encouraging CSRs to feel comfortable with asking technical questions and interacting with customers in a technically proficient way was one of the overall goals of this project. As Kerry stated:
“We hit the mark on this one.”
Code 3® Inc. engineers, manufactures and markets a complete line of lighting and sound-based warning products used by professionals in emergency response, utility, service fleet, and industrial settings. Code 3® has been in business since 1974. Their primary goal is to design products that enhance customer safety, including law enforcement officers, firemen and EMT personnel, as well as all personnel in utility, DOT, and construction industries.
Code 3®’s headquarters and plant are located in St. Louis, Missouri. They distribute products to over 70 countries through a network of manufacturer’s representatives and distributors serving the public safety, municipal and industrial markets.