Telesales staff dealing with enquiries for new business told customers that their information packs would arrive in two days.
One team member was concerned at the number of customers ringing to say that nothing had arrived. Instead of doing what everyone else did, which was to send out another set, she put her own details in to test the system.
Sure enough, her package arrived in two weeks, not two days. She asked colleagues to do the same and learned that two weeks was predictable.
She then went to the team responsible for sending them out – and found their measures showed they never took longer than two days. Then she went back up-stream, to the team that took the ‘orders’ from the IT system and collated the packs. Again their measures looked OK. Only by taking individual requests and studying what was going on through the flow did she discover a hold up in the IT system, many cases being held up for lack of information (which didn’t count in turnaround times) and data entry errors at the start.
When these problems were fixed the calls stopped coming in.
The current measures kept management blind to the problems, they were abandoned in favour of end-to-end time for customers.