“I hope you know what you’re doing,” said Charlie. “You are going to lose eight hours of production today.”
My plan was to rotate eight operators off-line for one hour each. In that one hour, Charlie was going to coach the operator to perform data entry in real-time with a customer on the line. The current method was to take notes on paper and, later, enter the order in the computer. It was a delayed process that created mistakes and missing information.
Charlie was coaching the operators, I was coaching Charlie. Actually, I was training Charlie. Our first subject was Sonja.
“Good morning, Sonja,” I took the lead. “You have completed the training for the real-time data entry and then we throw you back on-line with real customers. I don’t know if that is fair, so today, we have you off-line for an hour. We will do the same work, but the customer won’t be real. In fact, I am going to be your customer, so if you need to stop and slow down, all you have to do is smile and we will slow down.
“Since, I am the customer, Charlie will be your coach. Every time Charlie sees something he really likes, he is going to stop you and tell you about the element you did well. Ready?” Sonja smiled.
“You smiled,” I said. “So, let’s take it slow. You have your phone script, let’s start at the top.”
Sonja started through the script. Twenty seconds in, I stopped her.
“Charlie, we just finished the first few seconds of the call. What were the elements that Sonja did well?” Charlie stared at me, intently. Though I had briefed him before we got started, he was still focusing on mistakes. In the first twenty seconds, Sonja had made no mistakes, so Charlie didn’t know what to say.
“Charlie, in the first few seconds, did Sonja stick exactly to the script?” Charlie nodded. “Then, tell Sonja what positive element she accomplished by sticking to the script.”
So, Charlie talked about consistency. And we went on, stopping every few seconds, so Charlie could make a positive comment about Sonja’s performance. The first call took 15 minutes. The second call took 12 minutes. The third took 8 minutes. The fourth took 7. Then 6 minutes. The last two calls hit our target at 4 minutes, and then we had coffee.