‘Insurance giant faces storm over call centres’This was a recent front-page headline in a Sunday paper. The insurance giant had decided to outsource 1,000 jobs to India and was dismissive of a report on customer concerns. The report had said customers were overwhelmingly opposed to offshore call centres. Apparently senior managers in the insurance industry argued that, although offshore call centres are unpopular, customers are prepared to tolerate them if it means lower prices.

Ha. The loss of customers is a cost they might be measuring but the way they will be thinking abut India is as a transaction cost. Now what happens to costs if you design transactions that drive in more transactions (failure demand)? They won’t know their real costs; their measures will be keeping them blind.

Our clients move work back from India to the UK. They know the cost of service is end-to-end from the customer’s point of view. It’s counter-intuitive stuff.

A view from the inside

A reader from the same company writes:

“The long awaiting event has happened. We have been ‘outsourced to India’, all 700 of us. We have had the usual ‘it is not that you are not giving excellent service it is because we want to get everything in the same site’ (the site being in India).

There then follows a discussion with one of the senior management team saying that our productivity is 25% below other parts of the business. What parts of the business I ask? The commercial side he says. Then follows a pointless argument that their work is the same as ours, which it is not, and we do not have control of our input because yes, you have guessed it, the inputs come from India.

Then the most amazing question from a senior manager ‘Are there problems with India?’ We have been telling the offshore team for two years but you’ve guessed it they have been hiding it from the senior management team. How they will deal with this is to fragment the processes even more than at present and leave the poor customer in the middle pressing various buttons.

My advice when buying insurance: ask who will be dealing with your enquiries.”

Good advice.

Dealing with the symptoms

Another reader from the same company writes:

“A manager turned up and told our team they were going in February, three days after a different manager told them it was August. They are being replaced by an offshore company in Mumbai. A day later the HR department send out our stress relief week itinerary, first on the list is Indian head massages.”

I wonder if they are offering services for managers who need their heads examined.

It’s a method thing

A policeman and systems practitioner writes:

“I thought you would like to hear about my latest success in using ‘Systems Thinking’. I am now the full time Project Manager for the Force Mobile Data Project. I have developed the concept of an e-notebook that allows Police officers to gather information in an electronic format and use that same information with minimal rework in the various information transfer processes within the Force. I have managed to fully understand the purpose of the various processes, eliminate predictable waste and rework, build in quality at the front end etc. I have stuck by all the ‘Systems Thinking’ principles and as a result it’s working really well. Just as I knew it would. It had to.”

The policeman who made it work did not start with the notebook. He started with understanding the work, re-designing the work (to remove waste) and then ‘pulling’ the notebook into the new design. In all of those steps he would have engaged the people who did the work. He had method.

Shared services

Something that is in dire need of method is the shared services agenda. It amazes me that benefits processing is top of the list for sharing; to share this service will drive up costs, benefits is a service that should not be shared. Benefits is the favourite, no doubt, because it appeared as an idea in the Gershon report. And some people are like sheep.

But I detect wolves out there. People who have had enough of being told what to do and, more than that, know why many things they are being told to do are just plain wrong.

I put out a report on shared services and it went out like hot cakes. We ran an event, it sold out. So we are running two more. The people we are meeting are fed up with being told to do things that make no sense. Hoorah for the wolves.

The shared services events are: November 22nd, Nr Edinburgh and December 7th, London. For information: office@vanguardconsult.co.uk Open to public sector people only.

Is business about profit?

A BPO provider to local authorities learned by working with Vanguard that CRM ‘solutions’ do nothing other than institutionalise waste. It was a surprise therefore, to be told they were bidding to provide CRM to another local authority. I voiced my concern and they looked at me as though I was daft. ‘Business is about profit’ they said. ‘If that’s what they want and we can provide it…’

I think business is about being excellent; profits follow. They should have been open about what they know and offered to solve the problem a better way, turning off the need for institutionalising waste. Isn’t that what local authorities really want, better services at lower costs? Wouldn’t behaving that way lead to better relationships and more business?

They want to hear what we have to say

I was astonished and delighted to receive this mail from a civil servant in Ruth Kelly’s department:

I can only assume they are interested in what I have to say. But its not only me who can make the case, there are plenty of you out there who know of the waste caused by the current regime, there are many who practice Vanguard ’s approach, who know how the systems solution gives ministers what they want, better public services at lower costs, with transformed morale to boot.

Democracy works.

Telecomms event and a Vanguard workshop

At the end of this month I shall be speaking at the ‘telecomsloyalty’ event with Paul Elliott from Powergen. In fact this will be a repeat of the first two presentations at Vanguard’s October event. As people who came to the Vanguard event know, Powergen has moved rapidly from the bottom of the ENERGYWATCH league table to number two. A massive transformation been achieved in a very short time.

Following the conference (on November 30th) Barry Wrighton will be delivering a one-day workshop on the Vanguard Method.

Financial services event

I shall be giving a keynote presentation at a financial services event in Amsterdam on November 16th.

Wanted: systems thinking IT person

Those who have been to recent events will know about the VELUX story. They are looking for an IT person who is or wants to be a systems thinker.

‘Information systems, information technology manager or team leader wanting to work for a systems thinking company that is dedicated to deliver exceptional customer service should take a look at this appointment at VELUX. VELUX is a Vanguard methodology company who have achieve great results and are now looking for someone to lead their IS/IT Team.’