My friends in the Human Resources verticals championing the cause of recruitment in the Continuous Improvement niche were all too excited with the Job Descriptions in front of them and decided to pop me the question, “What is this Six Sigma all about? Can we also do something with it?”

Don’t be surprised with the ignorance with which the question was asked. I have been through many of these “What does it do for me” sessions. Lean And Six Sigma in Human Resources – You got to be kidding me! How can such manufacturing sensitive approaches be applied to a core service sector? Unless Human Resources is into manufacturing people that is…

Let us debunk this myth!

Improving the call conversion rates

One of the clients, an old friend of mine, who had started his recruitment business asked me to apply Six Sigma on his processes. Being a friend of mine, I didn’t feel like asking him for a pay-check (Maybe I should have and you will realize why soon). So back to the friend of mine! He said he had 10 employees who were tele-callers. Basically these guys had to call up X number of people every day and ask them to come for an interview to their office.

If they got selected they would be given offer letters and the friend of mine gets paid from his client. Simple modus operandi it seems but with just one challenge --- His client was upset he wasn’t throwing in the numbers to targets specified by them. Things had come to such a boiling point that his clients were ready to cancel their contracts!

In this heavily populated industry of recruitment outsourcing, my friend had to do something to save his company and of course, retrenchment was in neither of our minds.

So, armed with my toolkit, I arrived in his office and got to work. My first task --- Collect all possible data. In parallel, when the data collection was in process, my friend and I froze on the aim for the project. We wanted to know where we would be in some months’ time from now. Our goal was to improve call conversions from 10% to 35% in six months. That means my goal was clear – I had to analyze why the 10 candidates turned up out of the 100 calls made to them, and improve them to 35 out of 100 at least.

So where should I start? I had to first verify if the data pulled up for me was indeed right. Yes it was. Next check --- Know what I’d be measuring. Of course, call conversion rates, but what kind of calls would I measure data for? Completed or incomplete calls! Do I stop measuring when I say the call couldn’t last for anymore than 20 seconds.

Here was an interesting observation --- 50 out of 100 calls I could get data for were finished in 10-20 seconds. Phew --- That is a real dig, isn’t it?

The niche my friend was hiring for was Senior Managers who had about 6-7 years of experience in the Healthcare sector. I did a quick dot plot on all the data I had and within moments I had the analysis right in front of me. It was these 50 calls that had bummed my friend into the situation he was in. My target was simple – Understand what happened in these 50 calls and rectify the situation immediately! I had by now STRATIFIED my data.

What I did was unique then! I observed what the employees of my friend’s company spoke during the 20 seconds of the Hung-up calls. I found something disturbing here. Most of the telecallers scripted their calls as, “Would you be interested in a change?” Now you don’t talk to someone having 6 years of experience in whatever he is doing. He expects to be respected. He expects his time to be respected.

With the findings done, it was time to take the telecallers back to the drawing board. They were played back some calls to make them realize what their mistakes were. Gave them a new flow of call to which they were apprehensive. I sought an approval from my friend that they would not be marked on their performance for the next some days now.

Assured that they would not be asked to leave, they implemented my change. I monitored what they did for the next 15 days and the findings were equally impressive. The number of Hung up calls went down to 20 out of 100. People were speaking to our guys. But, did it translate to any numbers on ground?

Before I could speak to my friend, he told me that he was able to close 34 positions in a matter of one month. Bingo – Hit the target. As to my promise I didn’t charge my friend a dime though he has told he’d pay me a hefty share in a month’s time.

Still waiting….

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