Problem Solving Improves Customer Service
Coregas was founded in 1976 and is now part of Wesfarmers Industrial and Safety Group. With over 220 employees across seven locations, they have grown to be the largest Australian owned industrial, medical and specialty gas company.
Quality and Service are central to everything the team at Coregas do, they recognise that people play an essential part in achieving company objectives and are committed to developing a high-performance workforce.
As part of a company wide investment in up-skilling employees, the customer service team participated in a Problem Solving Training Program. Belinda Higham the Customer Service Manager led the project team and has been delighted with the results.
Problem solving tools
Corporate Partners introduced the customer service team to some key Problem-Solving tools including Mini Business Teams, A3 Problem Solving, 4 Fields Mapping and Visual Workplace Management. Armed with these new tools the team began holding meetings daily to discuss issues and track their progress against their goals.
The team created an issues register where all of the issues raised by staff were tracked and given to a staff member to resolve.
“Our staff have really embraced problem solving, they now feel they have a voice and are empowered to find solutions,” said Ms Higham.
Attended the training has provided staff with a mechanism to be heard and drive change. It has transformed their thinking, they are more solution focused and confident in their roles. Employee engagement has increased since the program began and Individual KPI’s have also improved, they are now ahead of the benchmark.
“The training is really effective because it’s customised to our needs and our work practices,” said Ms Higham “The Corporate Partners trainer really focused on understanding our issues then giving us the tools to resolve them, which means we will be able to maintain the results and continue to improve our processes.”
Problem Solving in Action
The team recently utilised their Problem Solving Skills to resolve an on-going issue with customer credits which left customers feeling frustrated and upset. The problem stemmed from a delay receiving invoices from a third party delivery company, these costs were then charged to clients. The delays meant there were often duplicate or incorrect invoices sent to customers and resulted in a large amount of time being wasted crediting and re-issuing invoices.
The Customer Service Team established a project to tackle the problem and utilise their Problem Solving Skills. To begin they put all of the issues on a whiteboard, everyone was involved and had a voice in outlining the issues.
“Our team is working with customers every day, they hear their frustrations so are well placed to outline the problems and come up with solutions,” said Ms Higham.
Once all of the issues were outlined the team utilised the tools they learned during the Problem Solving Training to document the process. This allowed them to understand the entire process and examine the various tasks involved. They could see how other departments interact with their team during the process, which gave them a deeper understanding of the business.
The power of the Problem Solving tools was demonstrated when the team realised that the external delivery company would need to change their internal process in order to notify Coregas immediately after the deliveries were made, rather than at the end of the month.
Corporate Partners helped to manage the planning meetings with the supplier, but Belinda Higham was able to drive the meetings based on the skills she had gained during her training. “We were thrilled to be able to work with our supplier to improve our processes, this required a change for them in their process and also needed investment in technology,” said Ms Higham.
Based on the work that the Customer Service Team had done they were able to show the supplier by changing the process they would get paid faster and enquiries would be reduced.
“It was a win-win situation for us a both, the tools and skills we learnt through the training really made the changes possible,” said Ms Higham.
The Problem Solving Training Program has been very powerful for the Customer Service Team at Coregas. Customers are receiving the correct invoices and the supplier is getting paid faster. Besides the obvious efficiency and hard dollar savings, all staff are much happier, teamwork has improved and Coregas have seen a reduction in sick leave. “Giving our employees a voice and the opportunity to make changes that drive efficiency and reduce errors has been beneficial to our customer service,” said Ms Higham.
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