Telus rings in more work with 25 percent fewer people by monitoring individual performance.
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Canada's second largest telecommunications provider had a bad connection with its customers. A downturn in the industry had forced Telus to greatly reduce staff, causing service levels and stock prices to plummet. "It was all over the papers," recalls Kevin Lam, project manager at Telus. "We had minimal service-level commitments. Customers were waiting days just to get their phones fixed. [They] were sending letters to regulatory agencies." At one point Telus's stock dropped from $42 Canadian to less than $7.
Telus has about 30,000 employees, 9,000 of whom work in the field. The company was mandated to reduce 25 percent of employees in that area, while continuing to meet service level targets. "Management wasn't going to give us back those people, so we needed to work smarter. We were scrambling to figure out how we could make it up and do this," Lam says. "We knew the potential for gain was there. If we could move ourselves from five to six service calls a day, that would be a huge gain in productivity."
Telus wanted to increase efficiency and productivity by measuring what its workers were doing, so the company turned to Information Builders' iWay (IB) product suite to optimize service delivery and its WebFOCUS tools to measure employee success. "We had no idea where we were starting and where we needed to go, so we started a field force approach to workforce optimization," Lam says.
Using WebFOCUS allowed the company to take other things into consideration, such as how difficult the project was, whether a user experienced any technical difficulty, and if she had to wait for a customer. "IB used a scorecard that looks at a more holistic view of the days of your life. Employees are starting to see it's a more reflective interpretation," Lam says. As a result, there's increased employee satisfaction. "You can manage them to death to get productivity numbers up for one quarter, [but] there's a shift in the cultural norm for this to be sustainable."
That's just what happened: The cultural shift allowed Telus a $42 million boost in one year. "The project paid for itself in a single month," Lam says. "Every 30 minutes your gain is millions of dollars. It's effective when you work with a large workforce." The company also saw a 9 percent improvement in productive hours and a 16 percent improvement in cycle time of service installations.
The company now measures service levels two to three times a day, and the firm's stock is at its highest in four or five years. "There was a time of pain," Lam says. "Now we're back to normal service levels. So to the shareholders, we've been able to recover from the downturn. We haven't brought in more people or reduced the amount of work yet we're meeting our targets again."
WebFOCUS also provides a scorecard to see how people are doing compared to everyone else. iWay collects the information and WebFOCUS delivers it. Michael Corcoran, chief communications officer for IB, says Telus is a model for other companies. "When people know they are being compared, it has a much more dramatic effect," Corcoran says. "[Telus] is a great example of what people are trying to do in the field."
By investing in IB's iWay and WebFOCUS tools, Telus:
drove regional productivity gains of $24 million in one year;
achieved $18 million in cost efficiencies; and
improved productive hours and service cycle time by 9 percent and 16 percent, respectively.
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