Be careful what you measure #SystemsThinking #Lean #Agile

I was reminded how important it is to be careful what you measure on the weekend. I had to call two call centers and both surprisingly implemented the same Service Level Agreements. Both promised that calls would be answered within two minutes. But surprisingly, both had implemented what I would consider ‘cheats’ to reach those measures.

Both Call Centers would not let calls get through until there were enough people available to guarantee the two minutes response time. Before that people would get a busy signal. I had to call back over 20 times to get a ring tone at one Call Center. They sub-optimized the system!

They were able to say they had two minutes response time because they excluded the hour of my time I kept on re-dialing until I was able to get a ringtone.

This reminded me of Helpdesks that solely measured the closure of tickets. This created the behaviour of Helpdesk analysts closing tickets even if the problem was not fully resolved. They just mentioned that another ticket could be created if the problem still existed. So again, they focused solely on their process, sub-optimized it and the customer suffered.

So be careful on what you decide to measure. In this situation the only measure was a two minute response time. So they changed the system so that they could meet that measure.

They focused solely on a measure that didn’t relate directly to the whole customer service experience. In the end they met their goal and possibly made customer service worse.

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