Why no-one wants to play for the losing team

Jodie | 19 Apr 2023 | News | Transformation

Mark Turner, principal consultant at Curium with 20+ years in call centres and operational excellence projects has shared with us his experience of dealing with failure demand and the effect this has on the entire company from CEOs to frontline phone agents.

Failure demand is the term used in any operational area with a primary function of servicing customer demand when contacts come in regarding a fault of the company within the customer journey and it is estimated, for example in a typical call centre, failure demand is around 40-60%. Meaning your agents are taking calls all day long and up to 60% of those calls are a result of a failure that could have been avoided. Spending less time handling those ‘value demand’ calls that customers actually want.

In most call centres, it’s been shown that you can reduce your overall call demand by over 30% by reducing your failure demand. Not forgetting the added benefit of improving your customer experience.

Failure demand negatively impacts the company reputation, generates high costs for your business such as compensation, redress and write-off’s, decreases your efficiency and has a huge impact on your employee motivation.

What is the impact on the employees?

If working in a call centre was compared to playing a sport, Football for example, failure demand is equivalent to showing up week after week and losing 10-nil, every week, every game, for months on end. Never winning. The sport you once enjoyed just isn’t fun anymore.

Now, before each game you lack the motivation to even put the kit on, let alone go out onto the pitch and give maximum effort for 90 minutes. If this continues for much longer, what would you do. Probably quit the team, right?

On the flip side, if your team is winning games, you’re celebrating together and having fun you’ll think “I love this game” and continue to play week on week, brimming with energy and adrenaline.

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What is the impact on the CEO?

Failure demand creates immediate inefficiency in the business as your teams are involved in completing additional work because an original demand was handled incorrectly or is awaiting action outside of your customers’ expectations.   

Your customers perception of your brand is tarnished because they have had to recontact you to either chase up or rectify an action.

How many times are your customers willing to accept failure before they choose to pay their hard earned money to one of your competitors?

If your team keeps losing, what is the impact on your most valuable assets – your people?

What is the impact on your business if your best people, fed up of playing for a losing team, chose to join a competitor?

What is causing the failure?

The golden question. Truth is, there are so many factors that may be contributing, and, in many cases, teams are ‘trapped’ in a cycle of failures that quite often need some intervention to correct the course.

Whilst it is natural to assume that this is driven by not having enough people in the team (supply) to meet the demand being received, there are often a range of influencing factors which contribute towards the organisational and operational pain being experienced. For example.

  • Do your people have the right skills to deal with your demand?
  • Are your people in the right place at the right time to service the demand received?
  • How accurate and useful is your demand forecasting to enable you to schedule your people appropriately?
  • Have the processes and procedures your people use kept pace with evolving customer expectations?
  • Do your people have easy visibility of demand changes, in real time, to enable them to react positively to these events and also understand what may be causing these spikes?

The root cause is typically linked to something which affects your people There are of course amazing technological solutions being launched and developed every day but all of these need to be aligned to your people in order for them to consistently and brilliantly serve your customers.

The good news? This is where our expertise comes in as a people first change organisation!

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Understanding failure demand

Of course, it is good practice to ‘count’ the volume of work or calls which arrive within a given period and compare this against a credible forecast or expectations. However, this assumes everything you are counting is ‘good’ demand, because the failure demand is hiding in the numbers to see at a top level.

The two most common types of failure demand typically relate to:

  • The customer asked for something to happen and it has not happened yet.
  • The customer asked for something to happen and it was done incorrectly.

Introducing disciplines and strategies to track the degree of failure demand which is polluting your view can help to unlock and release valuable people capacity to service desired, value adding customer demand.

Doing this can help your team win more matches, enjoy playing for you and mitigate any desire to take their valuable skills elsewhere and service paying customers more efficiently and brilliantly every day.

Get in touch with one of our specialists if you have any questions on how best to approach failure demand in your business.

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