Baldrige National Quality Award 1994 Recipient
With a domestic market share of about 60 percent, the unit employs 44,000 associates at more than 900 sites throughout the United States.
CCS has made knowing customer requirements its business. On the basis of customer surveys, extensive marketing research, and competitive benchmarking, it has defined five key determinants of customer satisfaction: call quality, customer service, billing, price, and company reputation.
Company goals are directly aligned with these requirements, which are further refined for each customer segment and then distilled to set targets for process improvements and new services. Overall direction comes from the top. CCS President Joseph P. Nacchio and senior executives - whose annual compensation is partially based on "customer value added," a composite measure of customer satisfaction - lead a planning process that integrates business and quality goals. By participating on improvement teams, meeting regularly with associates, and communicating through a variety of electronic and written media, executives actively spread and reinforce company goals and values throughout the widely dispersed organization.
Responsibility for achieving performance improvement goals rests squarely with manager-led process management teams (PMTs), composed of associates from all levels of the company and, as appropriate, representatives of CCS's more than 2,000 suppliers. Until improvement projects are completed, PMTs "own" the targeted processes, making operational decisions and monitoring progress by evaluating comprehensive performance data captured by the company's continually refined information systems. To ensure a shared focus across units - from beginning to end of a process - internal contracts are used to assign responsibilities and to set clear improvement goals for each sub-process. Besides daily monitoring of processes, monthly reviews of internal-customer satisfaction are among additional means of tracking progress toward achieving goals.
Substantial reductions in the time it takes to develop new products and services are but one example of the organizational returns on CCS's approach to process improvement. Development time has been more than halved, from an average of about two years in 1990 to less than one year in 1993.
Annual surveys indicate high levels of job satisfaction. For example, 90 percent of associates consider their jobs to be worthwhile. Responses to the detailed questionnaire are used to determine "people value added," an aggregate measure of the degree to which associate perceptions of management, job satisfaction, empowerment, and other factors influencing motivation and performance meet or exceed stated goals. Scores are reflected in compensation levels for executives and managers.
As is true throughout the telecommunications industry, CCS is in the midst of corporate restructuring and reducing the size of its workforce. To help affected associates make the transition, the company, in cooperation with associate-union representatives, has initiated services (such as new skills and foreign language training, preparing resumes, and developing job leads) that are available to associates until they find new employment inside or outside the company. In addition, CCS has established a Transition Center to respond to associates' questions on workforce management and to prepare informational materials that address concerns voiced by associates.
Technology to Improve
The consumer remains the ultimate authority on the quality of the company's services. To deepen its understanding of customers' wants and perceptions, CCS recently revamped its customer-focused measurement system - another example of how the company continually refines its approaches to quality improvement. Now, levels and determinants of satisfaction are evaluated in even greater detail, yielding even clearer targets for improvement.