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Onward and Upward: How Lean Process Improvement and Change Management Improved CDOT Customer Excellence

By Laura James, Process Improvement and Change Management Intern
August 18, 2018

customer service manager

Gina Talmadge
Customer Service Manager

Customer Engagement Improvement Team

In 2014, CDOT tracked all customer calls in a universal SharePoint platform called “IC3.” The system was slow, had limited capabilities, and was overloaded with data leading to wasted time. A process map outlining a 70-step procedure for answering inquiries, and over 100 different phone numbers listed on the CDOT external page, demonstrated a strong need for improvement. Multiple phone transfers and emails between administrators and subject matter experts also led to inconsistent answers to commonly asked questions.

What was the issue?

Tackling issues head-on, Customer Service Manager Gina Talmadge and an assembled Customer Engagement Improvement Team [pictured right] spent half a day in February 2014, defining the customer - a lengthy process due to the diverse calls that CDOT receives. With the customer in mind, five critical reasons for improvement were identified:

  1. Response time
  2. Numerous contact numbers listed led to multiple phone calls and transfers before the customer was connected with the right person
  3. Escalated complaints
  4. Inaccuracy in IC3 reports did not reflect call volumes
  5. Unstandardized answers to common questions

How did the Customer Experience Lean Project improve the existing issue?

Talmadge [pictured right] completed Lean Process Improvement training and brought the project into the 3-day Change Management Certification course to learn strategies for successful change implementation.

The Project team identified four steps to eliminate wasted time, manage inquiry flow, and create standard operations:

  1. Assign 5 Designated Customer Service Representatives in each region
  2. Publish 1 customer service phone line for each region which evenly distributes calls
  3. Improve self-service options on the website for customers
  4. Implement Dialog, a new web-based system which better tracks calls, emails, and responses

ADKAR Model

a
awareness of the need for change
d
desire to support the change
k
knowledge of how to change
a
ability to demonstrate skills & behaviors
r
reinforcement to make the change stick

How did the program impact people/change how they do their jobs?

Prior to the new Customer Engagement Program in 2014, calls went to numerous departments and were answered by various administrators and subject matter experts. Designated Customer Service Representatives (CSR’s) were identified from each region with clearly established time scheduled to respond to inquiries. All new CSR’s are recommended for the position and have direct conversations with the CSR lead prior to training to ensure that they are comfortable with their new role.

What steps were taken to help people adapt and adjust to the change?

All changes, even changes that streamline a process, come with a transitional period. The Sponsor Coalition considered the ADKAR (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement) model in their implementation planning, and gained executive sponsorship from the project’s beginning. Regional Transportation Directors and the Communication’s Department coordinated messages to build awareness around the new role of a CSR. This position differed significantly from previous roles in that CSR’s needed to have knowledge of all service areas, not just one specific department. Specifically, managers met with new CSRs to discuss how training would equip CSR’s to perform their new role.

Furthermore, managers conveyed the new structure’s benefits. For example, fewer escalated calls would reduce the amount of time spent answering questions and evenly distributed inquires could be addressed quicker by CSRs during a designated time of the day. Additionally, all CSRs had to volunteer for the position, go through interviews with the CSR Lead, complete training and received a small training pay financial agreement approved by Human Resources with a yearly commitment.

Looking forward

Four years later, Talmadge continues to evaluate the program and look for ways to keep improving. Currently, some regions are piloting and incorporating a dedicated full-time CSR who’s entire position involves responding to customer inquiries. The CSR team holds annual events to enhance team building, share best practices, and remind everyone of the bigger picture they work towards- to deliver an easily accessible customer experience with timely, accurate, and consistent response.

With customer service response time now a strategic measure of the Governor’s Office, the CSR team continues to provide the highest quality service. It is important to remember that providing quality customer service is a role and responsibility of every employee. Together, we can make CDOT more effective and efficient for everyone using Colorado roadways.

More details about the success of this CDOT process improvement project is available in these stories:

Want to learn more about Change Management at CDOT?
Check out our improvement efforts at the Office of Process Improvement’s website! Or, for CDOT employees, stop by the Change Hub on our Intranet!

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