Six Sigma is an industrial business strategy directed at improving the quality of process outputs by eliminating errors and system variables. The end objective is to achieve a state where 99.99966% of events are likely to be defect free. This would yield a statistical rating of Sigma 6 hence the name.
The process itself is thankfully more user-friendly. It presents a model for evaluating and improving customer relationships based on data provided by an automated customer relations management (CRM) system. However in the nature of human interaction we doubt the 99.99966% is practically achievable.
Six Sigma Fundamentals
The basic tenets of the business doctrine and the features that set off are generally accepted to be the following:
- Continuous improvement is essential for success
- Business processes can be measured and improved
- Top down commitment is fundamental to sustained improvement
- Claims of progress must be quantifiable and yield financial benefits
- Management must lead with enthusiasm and passion
- Verifiable data is a non-negotiable (no guessing)
Steps Towards the Goal
The five basic steps in Six Sigma are define the system, measure key aspects, analyse the relevant data, improve the method, and control the process to sustain improvements. There are a number of variations to this DMAIC model, however it serves the purpose of this article. To create a bridge across to customer relationships management let us assume our CRM data has thrown out a report that average service times in our fast food chicken outlets are as follows.
|<2 Minutes||3 to 8 Minutes||9 to 10 Minutes||>10 Minutes|
|Table: Servicing Tickets in Chippy’s Chicken Cafés|
Using DMAIC to unravel the reasons behind this might proceed as follows
- Define the system in order to understand the process. How are customers prioritised up front, and does the back of store follow suit?
- Break the system up into manageable process chunks. How long should each take on average? Where are bottlenecks most likely to occur?
- Analyse the ticket servicing data by store, by time of day, by time of week and by season. Does the type of food ordered have a bearing?
- Examine all these variables carefully. Should there for example be separate queues for fast and slower orders, are there some recipes needing rejigging
- Set a goal of 90% of tickets serviced within 8 minutes. Monitor progress carefully. Relate this to individual store profitability. Provide recognition.
A symbiotic relation between CRM and a process improvement system can provide a powerful vehicle for evidencing customer care and providing feedback through measurable results. Denizon has contributed to many strategically important systems.