Problem Solving and Decision Making

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Problem Solving and decision making

Background
I work for a company called npower and we are an energy supplier in the UK. Specifically, I work within the Blended Services department and we deal with various types of inbound contact from our customers such as email, letters and telephone calls. I manage a team of 15 people advisors and their role is to effectively deal with customer enquiries that come in via the different methods of contact. Due to the large volumes of correspondence that we have come in, it’s not always practical to respond to customers via a written response and we therefore ask the advisors to call as many customers as possible and resolve their enquiries by phone, this allows the advisors not only deal with the customer’s original enquiry but to also answer any subsequent questions that may arise when they are presented with the answer we give them.

Description of the problem
When advisors call a customer there are regulations around data protection and also keeping customer contact details up to date that we must adhere to, we refer to these regulations as compliance. This is a very black and white subject, we must be compliant in all we do 100% of the time. The problem that has come to light that in our department, is that our advisors are not 100% compliant 100% of the time. They will fully cover data protection and request up to date contact information on some calls but not others. This presents a problem for the department and me as a manager as well as the advisors in question as these inconsistencies can lead to varying degrees of disciplinary action for the advisors and the company. The impact of this for the advisors is that it can lead to disciplinary action such as informal warnings, up to more formal action such as written warnings and even loss of their job. In extreme cases offending advisors can even face personal fines. As a manager, I then have to consider the potential knock on effects of such action which can include loss of advisor confidence, a reduction in staff morale, and opportunity for progression may be reduced or taken away and all of these in turn may affect an advisors attendance. For me as a manager the concerns are that these actions could affect my time as I am required to carry out investigations in to each case of non-compliance. This is turn could leave other members of my team to feel neglected as my time becomes consumed with investigations and carrying out disciplinary action. Potentially, this could lead to a general loss of morale within my team as a whole and go on to impact their performance. This issue also affects our customers as if we are seen to be breaking such important regulations as data protection, and then this could cause an increase in complaints, damage our customer’s confidence in us as a company, lead to a decrease in customer loyalty and ultimately the loss of their business. From a company point of view the impacts are possibly the greatest. Just a few potential knock on effects from non-compliance are loss of customers, brand damage, legal consequences including large fines and potentially losing out license to trade. Disciplinary action can lead to loss of staff and this brings further impacts such as the time and cost of recruiting and training new staff and all of these could eventually impact our ability to provide a desired service to our customers.

Analysis of the problem
In trying to identify options to solve the problem of advisors inconsistently adhering to compliance regulations, I first looked at gathering as much information as I could in to how much it was affecting my department and if there were any contributing factors to the problem. I liaised with our quality analysts. The QA team had recently marked a sample of the calls we make within the department and informed me that in the month of September they sampled four calls from each team within the department. This was made up of one inbound call (calls where the...
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