Quality in Service

Case Studies

Some real-world examples of service providers who are using quality tools and processes to improve what they do.

India-based Life Insurer Improves Customer Retention Through Six Sigma, Quality Tools
Recognizing the company’s customer retention rate dipped below acceptable levels, Max Life Insurance Company leaders initiated improvement project Unnati to reclaim deeply lapsed policyholders. Using Six Sigma and quality tools, team members identified more than one dozen possible opportunities for agents to improve customer relationships, tripling the retention rate and generating millions in revenue
May 2014

New Zealand Port Company Stems Tide of Overdue IT Tickets
The Ports of Auckland aimed to reduce the number of IT call tickets that are not completed within agreed-upon timeframes. The organization initiated a Six Sigma project using tools to improve customer service, communication, and prioritization. As a result, the project realized a 50 percent reduction in past-due IT tickets during a sustained period. See an executive summary of the case study, or download New Zealand Port Company Stems Tide of Overdue IT Tickets (PDF, 219 KB).
January 2014

Lean Six Sigma Increases Efficiency for Financial Services Firm (PDF, 457 KB)
A fund services organization used a Lean Six Sigma approach that featured kaizen events to enhance process control and increase capacity. In just four months, nine quick-fix projects achieved savings of $220,000, paving the way for larger strategic improvements.
April 2012

A Broader View of Quality Through Certification (PDF, 561 KB)
Nancy Garcia, a senior engineering support technician for InfinityQS, is an ASQ Certified Quality Engineer and Certified Software Quality Engineer. Not only did Garcia gain confidence from ASQ Certification, she also developed deeper insight into the quality field.
September 2011

Supporting Customers and Driving Excellence Through Quality (PDF, 703 KB)
A Firstsource Solutions team used Six Sigma to improve its processes for handling inbound customer service calls for a client’s new business, lowering the repeat call rate from 15 percent to 9.6 percent.
May 2011

Reducing Check Returns With Six Sigma (PDF, 681 KB)
A Firstsource Advantage cross-functional team used Six Sigma to reduce the check return rate for a top client by more than 20 percent over a six-month period.
April 2011

Service Provider Improves Client's Metrics With Six Sigma (PDF, 480 KB)
Firstsource Solutions used Six Sigma to reduce a retail mortgage client's turnaround time to approve applications, boosting the client's revenue by 6.9 million pounds.
April 2011

Solid Commitment to People Is Main Ingredient for Texas Restaurant Excellence (PDF, 275 KB)
In 2010, K&N Management became the second food service recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the first restaurant group ever to receive the Texas Award for Performance Excellence.
March 2011

No Evil Lasts More Than 96 Hours (PDF, 342 KB)
Using Six Sigma and quality tools, a Movistar Argentina improvement team reduced defects in the posting of customer payments by 50 percent, shortened the time needed to post payments from seven minutes to three seconds, decreased average allocation time from five to two days, and reduced rework by 68 percent.
March 2011

Negative Press Motivates Impossible Mission (PDF, 390 KB)
Telefónica’s Impossible Mission team used a Six Sigma approach to increase on-time payments to media suppliers from two percent to 97.5 percent.
November 2010

Teaming Up With Six Sigma to Improve Accuracy and Customer Satisfaction (PDF, 326 KB)
A Firstsource Solutions Six Sigma improvement team used the define, measure, analyze, improve, and control (DMAIC) approach to improve accuracy rates for a client’s enrollment forms. The client passed a regulatory audit, avoiding a financial penalty, and the team became a finalist in the 2009-10 International Team Excellence Award competition.
November 2010

Six Sigma Improves Productivity, Adds Financial Value (PDF, 588 KB)
Using a team-based Six Sigma approach, Firstsource Advantage improved collection call center productivity and added $250,000 in financial benefits. The improvement team earned finalist honors in the 2009-10 International Team Excellence Award competition.
November 2010

Electric Utility Deploys Powerful Approach for Continuous Improvement (PDF, 313 KB)
The Information Technology and Business Integration (IT&BI) Business Unit at Southern California Edison launched a three-year plan to increase visibility, awareness, and focus on continuous improvement efforts to better meet client needs.
August 2010.

Building a Culture of Quality (PDF, 248 KB)
As Jeff Balaban established a quality assurance program in the information technology department at Southern California Edison, he was also building a culture of quality.
August 2010.

ISU’s Facilities Planning and Management Organization Uses State Award as Guidepost on Quality Journey (PDF, 178 KB)
The facilities planning and management operation at Iowa State University is one of only three organizations in the past 10 years to earn the Baldrige-based Iowa Recognition for Performance Excellence gold award.
April 2010.

Quality Basics Simplify Complex Engineering Document Management Challenge (PDF, 257 KB)
Quality tools such as process mapping, fishbone analysis, and simulations helped a utility company transfer the management of 750,000 documents from more than 150 different facilities to a centralized location, resulting in annual savings of more than $1 million.
April 2010.

The Challenge of Overcoming Success (PDF, 428 KB)
A combination of theory of constraints, Six Sigma, and lean helped a DNA testing laboratory take a holistic approach to process improvement. Redesigning the workflow and laboratory layout and introducing new operating rules increased capacity without increasing costs.
March 2010.

Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin: Integrating Quality and Social Responsibility (PDF, 255 KB)
Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin uses lean techniques and kaizen events to improve processes and enhance its social responsibility efforts. Within two years of introducing lean techniques, Goodwill had completed 16 process improvement events that saved an estimated $2.8 million in labor and supplies.
December 2009.

It’s a Matter of Time: Ship Servicers Use Quick Kaizen to Shorten Long Turnaround (PDF, 236 KB)
A team at the Yokosuka Calibration Laboratory, U.S. Naval Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center, used a series of kaizen events to shorten service lead time by 68 percent. The team qualified as a finalist in ASQ’s 2008 International Team Excellence Award process.
November 2009.

Piecing Things Together: Better Materials Organization Improves Ship Repair Service (PDF, 276 KB)
Employees at the Sasebo production shop of the U.S. Naval Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center used a lean 5S approach to establish a new way of managing their materials inventory. The team reduced time spent looking for parts by 80 percent and qualified as finalists in ASQ’s 2008 International Team Excellence Award process.
November 2009.

Getting Green With Lean (PDF, 483 KB)
The JDSU legal department’s global trade team used lean tools to eliminate waste from its import management processes. By creating a paperless process, the team handled a 500-percent increase in work and eliminated at least 70,000 paper copies per year.
September 2009.

Singapore Housing and Development Board Teams Use Quality Tools to Provide Award-Winning Customer Service
June 2009

Three improvement teams from the Singapore Housing and Development Board (HDB) qualified as finalists in ASQ’s 2008 International Team Excellence Award process. Read about their projects.

R. L. Polk & Co.: Making Every Issue the Only Issue (PDF, 191 KB)
Annual customer surveys for R. L. Polk & Co. identified opportunities for improvement in customer contact and issue resolution. By following the same steps for every issue and performing full root cause analysis for 100 percent of issues, Polk increased operational excellence and improved customer satisfaction.
February 2009.

Improving Productivity Through Lean Six Sigma Warehouse Design (PDF, 190 KB)
A Lean Six Sigma improvement team at New Breed Logistics employed quality tools such as value stream mapping, PICK charts, and the 5 Whys to increase product flow and meet customers’ packaging requirements. As a result, overtime decreased by 30 percent, productivity increased 5 percent, shipping accuracy reached 100 percent, and customer satisfaction improved, leading to additional business.
February 2009.

Simplify and Unleash: One Bank’s Strategy for Growth Through Six Sigma
With a goal of ensuring controlled and profitable growth, a large retail bank sought to simplify its retail division by using a Six Sigma strategy to remove incremental costs.
March 2009.

On the Right Track: Rail Company Reduces Expenses with Six Sigma (PDF, 182 KB)
An improvement team at rail company CSX Transportation qualified as a finalist for ASQ’s 2008 International Team Excellence Award with a project focusing on train and engine expenses and accuracy in employee pay. The Six Sigma project led to annual savings of $1.4 million, with further reductions in waste resulting in $5.1 million in savings in 2007.  
September 2008.

Simplify and Unleash: One Bank’s Strategy for Growth Through Six Sigma (PDF, 187 KB)
A large retail bank used a Six Sigma strategy to simplify its retail division and remove incremental costs. Improving core business processes through process and product elimination and through process simplification resulted in $2.1 million in savings in just eight months.  
September 2008.

Certifying the Certifier (PDF, 115 KB)
Over a three-year period, Quality Management Company (QMC) improved itself from the inside out—and became ISO certified in the process. ISO 9001 provided QMC with a logical framework for developing a quality management system.
July 2008.

Improved Response Time Increases Revenue for Global Lender (PDF, 154 KB)
A global lender was losing 40% of its applications for auto loans in Latin America, mainly due to slow response times. Through the use of basic lean and Six Sigma tools, response times improved by as much as 98%, and contract volume increased by up to 120%.
June 2008.

An Alternative Approach in Service Quality: An e-Banking Case Study (PDF, 238 KB)
Data from the National Bank of Spain show how the customer’s voice can be designed into its e-banking system.
January 2008.

Agency Files Away Inefficiency, Saves Taxpayers a Bundle (PDF, 228 KB)
One of the three silver medal winners in the 2007 International Team Excellence Competition created a solution that has the potential to save Florida taxpayers more than $18 million over time.
October 2007.

Child Protective Services Agencies Turn Data Into Action Using Quality Tools (PDF, 207 KB)
The Children’s Research Center’s SafeMeasures® service uses quality tools to help navigate data fog and provide meaningful analysis. Results from agencies using the service demonstrate how the availability of timely and useful data has dramatically improved the documentation, delivery and monitoring of child protective services.
September 2007.

Improving Child Protective Services Using Quality Tools (PDF, 95 KB)
With the help of an ASQ Community Good Works grant, the Children’s Research Center is piloting a training curriculum to teach data-driven improvement techniques to social service agency workers in Santa Cruz County, California. By teaching a basic 10-step process for improvement, the center equips social workers to overcome barriers created by complex state and federal regulations and inefficient case management systems.
September 2007.

Maryland Not-for-Profit’s Process Improvements Lead to Award-Winning Success (PDF, 403 KB)
Since entering its first state quality award program in 2002, Chimes has received five awards in Maryland and Delaware.
June 2007.

Quality Strategies Help Eliminate Likelihood of Serious and Deadly Injuries (PDF 5 MB)
An energy company was dismayed to learn that its fire-safety clothing wasn't adequate for workers dealing with potentially deadly gas-line fires. The company used quality tools and methods to quantify the dangers employees faced and the best ways to protect them. The result: A dramatically safer work environment. NOTE: This PDF includes video clips of the burn tests conducted as part of the company's research. The link above will give you access to a version that includes Quicktime videos. If you have trouble viewing the clips, try viewing an alternate version of the PDF embedded with Windows Media (2 MB) videos.
May 2007.

Employees Fuel Productivity Gains, Enhanced Service at U.S.-Japan Shipyards
This collection of case studies highlights several successful quality-improvement initiatives at the U.S. Naval Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) Yokosuka and its Sasebo detachment. Using quality tools and techniques, workers have made significant improvements to many key processes and facilities.
April 2007.

Getting Credit for Service
Experian Marketing Services (EMS) considers quality management a critical part of its commitment to its clients. Last year EMS looked to ISO 9001 certification as a way to extend its established project management program.
November 2006.

U.S. Air Force Earns High-Flying Results with Quality Management Specifications for Suppliers (PDF, 181 KB)
Adopting ISO 9001 compliance as a sourcing criterion in its supplier selection process and requiring suppliers' quality management representatives to become ASQ Certified Quality Auditors saved the Air Force millions of dollars and nearly eliminated critical defects in supplier products and services.
November 2006.

Shifting Quality Into High Gear (PDF, 201 KB)
Dallas area Lexus dealership’s close attention to small details keeps customers and employees happy. The results have been so great, they plan to reapply for a Baldrige in five years.
Quality Progress, September 2006.

Regional Team Approach Helps Energy Company Enhance Safety, Avoid Costs (PDF, 165 KB)
Xcel Energy's Denver operation reduced accidents by 48% in one year and saved the company an estimated $714,000 over a 24-month period.
August 2006.

IT Department Improves Processes to Detect More Defects Sooner (PDF, 79 KB)
Tufts Health Plan IT process improvements resulted in a 16% decline in defects identified in testing, a 68% increase in peer reviews conducted as a quality check before production, and a 59% increase in the number of issues identified in those peer reviews. (This case study appears as a section of the Software Engineering Institute technical report "Performance Results of CMMI®-Based Process Improvement.")
August 2006.

Help Desk Improves Service and Saves Money With Six Sigma (PDF, 171 KB)
The help desk service for a telecom company launched a Six Sigma project to improve the quality of its processes, reducing the average solution time for customers from 9.75 hours to 1 hour and decreasing operating costs by 69%. August 2006.

Xcel Energy’s Natural Gas Services Risk Management Team Uses Quality Tools to Recover Millions (PDF, 244 KB)
A risk management team reduced a potential $12.7 million payment default down to $114,000 while improving process performance.
News for a Change, February 2006.

At Your Service (PDF, 200 KB)
Boeing Aerospace Support and Caterpillar Financial Services each received the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in the service category in 2003 while improving processes, quality, performance results and customer satisfaction.
Quality Progress magazine, June 2004.

Get Staff Involved in Quality Initiatives (PDF, 105 KB)
By challenging employees to solve quality problems, a transportation services company saved more than $3.5 million the first year.
Quality Progress magazine, February 2004.

Six Sigma… at a Bank? (PDF, 163 KB)
Bank of America's Six Sigma initiatives have created benefits of more than $2 billion and increased customer delight by more than 25%.
Six Sigma Forum Magazine, February 2004.

Significance of Quality Certification: The Case of the Software Industry in India (PDF, 254 KB)
Results of an empirical study conducted in the software industry in India show that quality certification helps in the implementation of TQM-based quality management programs and has an impact on operational performance.
Quality Management Journal, January 2004.

Interview: Fish Philosophy and Teamwork (PDF, 131 KB)
John Yokoyama attributes the success of his Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle to a working environment that is fun for employees while maximizing customer satisfaction.
News For A Change, January 2002.

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