For those lean sigma practitioners out there, the 7 types of wastes (‘Muda’ in Japanese) as defined in the lean principles might not be a new concept (8 including the ‘intellectual’ waste). However, for the larger audience, lets take a quick look at the 8 types of wastes before we talk about how this can be related to in a contact center environment. Waste elimination is at the heart of any process improvement framework to drive efficiency and to get the best out of your business process. The Lean principle categorizes waste in any business process into 8 types and for convenience often referred to as WORMPIIT (Called as Worm pit). “Waste” is defined as any activity that does not add value or results in cost leakage.
What are the 8 types of wastes (WORMPIIT – ‘Worm Pit’)?
With contact center being a people-rich business, how effectively an organization utilizes its people resources for value add vs. non- value add will determine the level of waste that exists in your business process. I have used resource utilization in contact centers as a standard variable to explain the 8 types of wastes below to customize it to the contact center environment. 8 Types of Wastes explained:
- Waiting: This is probably the most common type of waste; your resources are waiting without contributing to the core function. There could be multiple drivers for the cause here. Some examples include, your resources could be waiting for the CRM software to load, system/tools down time, agents waiting for calls etc.
- Over Production: In the contact center world, this can directly be related to being overstaffed or hiring over the actual resources that are required to meet the service levels, resulting in lower utilization. Not just for your frontline customer service resources, this applies to all the roles in your organization (including leadership).
- Re-Work: This type of waste can occur if two resources are engaged in the same activity at the same time resulting in duplication of work or the need to invest a second resource due to the error or inaccuracy on the part of the first resource. Not resolving customer’s issue during the first contact is a perfect example for Re-work
- Motion: Any unnecessary action that does not add value can be considered as a waste of motion. This can be related to high after call times in contact centers. In the early days of my career, I was in an internal consulting project for one of the regional teams to reduce their hiring cycle time. Through the process we identified that the interview candidates were asked to visit 4 different offices in the city through the hiring process, the simulation pointed out that the hiring cycle time could be reduced by 4-5 days per selected candidate if the location was reduced to 1 instead of 4.
- Processing (over): Longer talk times on the call could be an example of over processing. Another example based on my personal experience was a 3 page call escalation form that each agent was supposed to fill up before escalating any customer to the Level 2 technician resulting in a 7-12 minute of customer hold time.
- Intellectual: This is a very powerful one and my favorite and is self-explanatory. Under utilizing your team’s intellect is a waste indeed. This was not a part of the original lean principle and was later added to the list.
- Inventory: An example of inventory waste could be the number of pending customer queries you have open without resolution.
- Transportation: Unnecessary movement of your resources or customers can result in the transportation waste. Misrouted calls, multiple touch points for customers, over complicated approval paths within the organization are a few examples of the transportation waste in a contact center.
There are a lot of opportunities related to WORMPIIT in the contact center environment. The transformational opportunity here is to move beyond the conventional “metric management” in contact centers and understanding and relating low performance to existence of waste in the system and eliminating it. Metrics then become just an output measure for waste elimination framework in your contact center rather than metric management being your actual work. Below is a sample WORMPIIT measurement system related to contact centers that can be implemented as the first step to monitor and drive your formal waste elimination WORMPIIT framework. Developing a broader understanding of the types of waste within your larger workforce and helping them relate to WORMPIIT in day-to-day operations can be a powerful theme in driving efficiency across the board. Even more powerfully, your workforce is now after eliminating waste rather than just meeting metrics. This could mean something really special for your contact center. About the Author: For more information, contact Balakarthik Venkataramanan at firstname.lastname@example.org. LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/balakarthikv.