Plan-Measure-Improve and get 1 to do the work of 3

After a period of rapid growth and putting people into the wrong roles our company was sick. Customers were leaving us due to declining satisfaction, we had low productivity and our top line was shrinking as was our team. We could not just blame the economy and we had to take action to turn it around.

Do you know any businesses like that?

Combo was not a terrible business, it may have even been an OK business, but it was not the great business we wanted it to be. We were experiencing some issues and needed to improve before our company imploded. Today we can say we succeeded with a focus on strategy, technology, values and an approach to getting the right people on our team.

Hiring and offshoring

Some of our key issues were with hiring the right team members and the people we were hiring were expensive. We had decided that offshore resources would reduce the burden. The initial idea was to let them deliver back office services, however, due to cost and availability they were placed on logging in-bound calls to reduce the load on our “overburdened staff”. Our poor reporting on staff activity and utilisation and poor tracking of delivery against our SLAs (service level agreements) SLAs with clients did not help.

To overcome these issues we started with a review of who we wanted Combo to be as a business, the organisations values. We talked about quality of service, integrity, responsibility, local community and so forth but we were not meeting our stated objectives. We had slipped in the face of business pressures.

Individual accountability

Taking the company objectives and breaking them down into team and individual objectives was a powerful step. We needed to improve our certification so we set training objectives for each technician. We needed to track progress against objectives so we set up a review system using We now perform three reviews each year against objectives for the trimester and enjoy keeping score. The objectives came from our strategic plan for the year and the focus for that period. Customer satisfaction was one of the objectives and so on. We also managed to align the scores with the company profit share scheme to drive incentives with the plan. Our company health index was then derived from the sum of the individual scores.

Over several cycles the system improved and reflected the results we were achieving. Team performance could now be measured, managed and improved.

Aligning with core values

It took a well-orchestrated alignment exercise to convince the management team it was in their interests to move on, this created an opportunity to adjust the team. With careful profiling we selected a new individual who was aligned to our values to take on the role of the previous two managers. We then re-built our technical team. The deployment of iDashboards to display key metrics for each of our job functions, and in the process, gamify the help desk leading to our staff willingly competing to drive better statistics on their call resolution metrics. Initially the iDashboards displayed marketing information to demonstrate to our clients how thoroughly we monitored their issues. As we improved the charts on the iDashboard for relevance and importance, they motivated the team to focus on the key components of service delivery.

One of the best mechanisms we discovered almost by accident. With each IT job ticket completed clients are asked five questions. Completion of the surveys is not compulsory but plenty get filled in. The client scores 1 to 5 where 1 is completely failed to meet expectations and 5 is went above and beyond. Each score of 3 or below resets a counter on our iDashboard the counter tracks “Days since last negative feedback”. It is not about who caused the reset, nor do we point fingers or blame, yet somehow people always have a sense of who scored the negative result. As the days since last negative feedback number grows to a large number of days it becomes a topic of conversation that motivates great customer service.

Triple the output

With a focus on company Values, and iDashboards, plus a whole lot of focused effort on team culture, customer service and ongoing education, I am delighted to say we turned the company around. Combo was able to show statistically that one local, well managed, well-educated and motivated local resource was capable of resolving triple the number of IT tickets with improved customer satisfaction than one offshore contracted person.

If only more local companies went to the effort and put these sort of systems in place. Focused on education and company culture, perhaps we could get back to growing the Australian economy and our future as the smart lucky country.

We are here to help you with the advice and platforms to bring about this sort of transformation in your business from an IT perspective. We would also be happy to introduce you to our mentors who helped us along the way. We know that the success of our clients is our success too.