Analysis Planning

Project Description

Exclusive Clothes and Gifts (ECG) seeks training that will alleviate customer service issues (with a current goal of 10% improvement in customer service scores) and employee dissatisfaction (as measured through informal polling). The proposed training solution would enable them to meet their aggressive profit goals and financial objectives (increased sales via catalog and internet orders; increased customer lists, and doubling of net profit).

The management team believes that increased knowledge and skill of telephone operators and supervisors in describing the features and benefits of the products and to provide enhanced details (not available in the catalog) is key to increasing catalog sales and reducing customer complaints.

Mike Merrill, Vice-President of Sales at ECG agreed that ECG will be best served by EduCadre by allowing the team to conduct a thorough gap analysis, including both performance and training needs assessment, to ensure that the developed training meets their financial, customer satisfaction, and employee satisfaction and engagement goals.

EduCadre will perform a performance analysis to determine whether, in fact, a training solution will solve the performance issue or whether an alternative solution could improve the performance issue. Performance may be affected by a change in processes or changes in the software or hardware tools the workers use.

Current training is offered quarterly to coincide with the release of each season’s catalog offerings. It is given by managers knowledgeable of the products. The training lasts half a day and consists of a PowerPoint presentation. There is also a thirty-minute question and answer period. There are hundreds and possibly thousands of different products that the telephone operators may get asked questions about. The product information referenced in training is always available to the telephone operators on the present ordering system.

The training needs analysis should determine if the current method and content of the training are adequate to achieve ECG’s current and future goals. Is the focus on the overview of upcoming products really the best way to spend training time? If it is the best method, is only half a day of training with a half hour of questions and answers, enough time to present the information. Should there be trained educators giving the training instead of product managers? Should computer-based training be utilized?

Since the product information on the numerous items is always available to the operators, would training in some other area such as customer service or soft skills be better to achieve the ECG’s goals? And if it is, what kind of form would that training take? The training then may have to be provided by trained educators, not product knowledge SMEs.

A new telephone/ordering system will soon be implemented, so the type of training provided would have to be decided.

Employee meetings will be analyzed. Should they be compensated by the company and made mandatory? Should they be dropped altogether?

There may also be an opportunity for improvement or change in the hiring process training. It should be determined if the high turnover rate is caused by internal issues or not hiring the right people in the first place.


Information Needed

In short, the analysis EduCadre will focus on determining first whether training can achieve the general goals of ECG’s management and, second, what specific aspects of job performance operators (or managers) should be trained on. It will be critical to find out whether operators are thought of by ECG management, and customers, as product specification and description experts, a sort of shopping concierge or consultant, or as order-placement facilitators. What issues do customers have with the service ECG provides, and can those issues be affected by training? What are the missions and values ECG management expects its workers to internalize, and how effectively are those values being communicated? These are the questions we’ll strive to answer.


Team Strategy

The approach EduCadre will apply is to identify ECG’s goals, determine how those goals will be measured, and get a better understanding of the processes, jobs, and tasks associated with those goals. This is the heart of EduCadre’s performance analysis. Next, we will map these processes, jobs, and tasks to the people and materials available to get training needs input.

Specifically, one level of research would focus on the organizational culture, the organization’s mission and values and how these are articulated and translated (or not) into daily operations. Further, a level of research will examine the data culture, that is, does ECG use data to manage performance, and, if so what kind of data does it regularly collect, analyze, and report. Further, how does that data contribute to decision-making? This is to understand better how readily able they are to measure the goals they seek and the kind of information/data that may be available to ascertain their issues.

Provided that the processes, jobs, or tasks pertinent to the goals identified in the performance analysis include skills or knowledge that may be improved by training, EduCadre will utilize a training needs analysis that will include research focused on operator performance, operator tasks, and skills, knowledge and abilities required to measurably affect goal-associated outcomes.

EduCadre will use a mix of methods to obtain needed information:

    • Interviews
    • Focus Groups
    • Observations
    • Surveys
    • “Mystery Shopper” – recruit individuals to engage with customer service and document their experience through a variety of scenarios
    • Customer Journey Mapping – process map developed by the staff of the step-by-step experience of customers engaging with ECG

Content Analysis/Document Review – review of documentation, metrics, reports, etc. (paper and electronic)


Analysis Plan

 Research MethodTarget AudienceInformation You Hope to GainTeam Member Responsible
1. InterviewsExecutive and Managerial staff:

Mike Merrill,
VP of Sales

Jane MacKenzie,
Director of Catalog Sales

Susan Turner,
Director of HR

Bruce Bennet,
VP of IT

Tsien Yu,
IT Manager

Judi Thompson,
Catalog Manager

Sheena Perez,
Merchandising Manager

Ted Higgins,
Intranet manager


• Organization mission and value

• Business strategies

• Data collection and use

• Customer service overview (definition, measurement)

• Processes overview (ordering, operator customer interaction process)

• Employee performance evaluation process

• Employee satisfaction survey process

• Management techniques (supervision methods, promotion and compensation policies, employee incentive program, management issues, management perception of employee satisfaction and performance
2.ObservationManagers (Judi Thompson, Catalog Manager, Sheena Perez, Merchandising Manager), Supervisors, Telephone Operators• Meetings, daily operations (especially phone operators), top performers and low-performance operators.All
3. SurveyTelephone Operators and Supervisors• Employee Engagement
• Customer service training strength
• Product information training effectiveness
4. Focus groupTelephone Operators • Order process

• Complaints process

• Training

• Recommendations
5.Customer journey mapJane MacKenzie, Director of Catalog Sales

• The customer engagement experience from a typical perspective.All
6.Focus groupCustomers• Primary concerns from customers (speed, courtesy/service, knowledge)All
7.Mystery ShopperNA• Customer experience based on recruited individuals to observe how various scenarios are handled (and how they may differ or not from how it’s thought to be handled)All
8.Document reviewNA• Review of organizational documents such as employee handbooks and company memos to gain insight into management styles, employee expectations and management concerns.All

Activity 1- Interviews with Management Members

Details of Activity/Method

EduCadre will interview Jane MacKenzie, Susan Turner, Bruce Bennet, Tsien Yu, Judi Thompson, Sheena Perez, Ted Higgins and Supervisors to get their take on organizational culture and goals. Questions will then be asked of specific staff by their area of focus within the organization as noted. Note – materials listed under the content analysis will be requested in advance to serve as a reference for how procedures are outlined to then compare to reality.


Questions to Ask

Audience: All

Related to organizational culture and goals

Mission and Values

In your own words, what is ECG’s mission?

Can you provide 3- 5 single terms that best identify ECG’s company values?

What are some examples of how those values are manifested in how the company is managed?

Goals and measurement

What kind of performance metrics do you typically collect?

          • from which data sources?
          • in what format(s)?
          • at what frequency?
          • who compiles reports?
          • Who is this information shared with and when?
          • Do you use any milestones or benchmarking to compare performance (internally or externally and if so how applied?)

What strategies will your department implement to contribute towards next year’s goals?

What will you do more of, less of, or differently?

Will you use new metrics for next year’s targets?

– Note: for subsequent interviews, we will ask for metrics in advance (depending on what they collect) to go over in detail

To measure goal progress – how often will you look at progress? What are indicators to apply along the way?

          • What has been your experience with data collected to date? Can you provide examples of when you’ve used data to make an operational decision?
          • How do you look at internal metrics (related to employees) vs. sales metrics?
          • Can you describe the three biggest issues you see facing the company?
          • What does ECG do best? What don’t you want to see changed?
          • What are your own pain points?
          • What do you value about working at ECG?
          • What would you like to see changed that would increase employee engagement at ECG?

Audience: Jane MacKenzie, Supervisors

Customer Service

If you were to write a glowing customer review, what would it include?

What are the qualities of a strong customer service?

What do you see as barriers to attaining that?

What is the procedure for handling customer inquiries?

What is the procedure for handling customer complaints?

How does customer service scoring work? (see metrics questions highlighted in red)

Regarding the goal of a 10% increase in scores – is this in comparison to last year? Last quarter?

What are interim goals over the year?

Why do you think the current system is only used at 85% capacity?

What is the current call volume? How does that compare to last year?

What do you see as your customer’s pain points?

What do you think customers value about ECG?

What do you think are operator pain points?

What are the biggest drivers for the high rate of turnover?

Are there any differences related to shifts?

How could these be addressed?

What do you think about the training that has been provided to date? Is it sufficient? What would you keep or change?


Audience: Susan Turner, HR

Metrics specific to recruitment, hiring, promotion, termination will be requested in advance depending on what is available

Walk me through how employees are recruited?

          • Where do you advertise?
          • Who tends to apply?
          • How are candidates screened? By who? Against what measures?
          • Once a candidate is identified, what happens next?
          • Who interviews? In what format?
          • Are candidates tested or vetted through other means?
          • Who makes the decision to hire?

How is compensation determined? How does compensation compare to other similar industries?

How are staff onboarded?

How does supervision happen?

          • What are the standards?
          • In what format do you think supervision is provided (if different from the standard)?
          • What do you think makes a strong supervisor?

How are staff recognized?

How do you define employee engagement and satisfaction?

How will you measure improvement in satisfaction?

How are staff evaluated? And how often? What rubric is used?

Can you tell me more about the new performance evaluation plan?

          • Why was it implemented?
          • How does it compare to the prior version?
          • What are you hoping to achieve?

Can you tell me about the incentive program?

          • How does it work?
          • Who is eligible?
          • What does “error-free” performance mean (per the incentive policy?) – how is that determined? And by whom?

What is the promotion procedure?

What is the average life cycle of a team member that starts at the ‘ground floor’ as an operator? Length of time in the role, promotion, transfers?

Can you share employee demographic information? (age, education, language preference)

What recruitment methods are used to find prospective employees?

What’s the average length of employment for operators?

What are your training costs, and what are the chief training expenses?


Audience: Sales – Mike Merrill, VP of Sales and individuals he identifies

What do sales entail at ECG?

          • How do you grow customer lists?
          • Are you reaching who you want to reach?
          • How are new customers found?
          • Are there customer data lists purchased from vendors, inbound customer inquiries, outbound sales reps cold calling?
          • What has historically been the method for finding new customers?
          • What is the scalable model for the future?

Thinking of your ideal customer – what are the methods used to connect with them?

          • How many times do you try to connect with them?
          • Whatfollowup is done to ensure they will come back?

What do you see as the roadblock(s) to sales success? Will increasing operator knowledge of product improve the chances of getting to the revenue increase goal?

How are sales staff managed?

          • Is there coaching on improvement or just metric tracking?
          • Are sales employees compensated for extra effort?
          • Do they have any incentive to perform in competition with others?

Is the sales process (as it currently stands) efficient to reaching the revenue goal or are there opportunities to add or subtract roles or processes to streamline the sales journey for a customer?

What are the pain points in your department – how do you learn about them? How can you address?


Audience: IT – Bruce Bennet, VP of IT, Tsien Yu, IT Manager

Can you describe the new ordering software and what its impact on operators is expected to be?

How involved was the customer service department in the purchasing and review of the system?

When is the expected roll-out?

What kind of technical or implementation support does SimplyOrder provide?

What metrics are available in the new system to track operator performance or customer service (if different from the old system)?


Audience:  Merchandising – Judi Thompson, Catalog Manager, Sheena Perez, Merchandising Manager

How many products are offered each quarter?

How many new products are offered each quarter? How often are old materials referenced or is that information needed?

How are new products identified and selected?

What is the total number of products that the telephone operators must have knowledge of?

What can the operators do to improve their product knowledge?

Are operators expected to have some knowledge of every product?

Audience:  Training– Judi Thompson, Catalog Manager, Sheena Perez, Merchandising Manager

Regarding training, can you share more about the approaches you have used in the past leading up to the most current version of the training?

          • What has worked?
          • What hasn’t?
          • What would you change about the current training?
          • What wouldn’t you?
          • Where has training has been offered (in what room? with what materials?)

Have you experimented with different formats? (for example, e-learning?) Or different instructors?

How do you know if staff has learned what you intend? Do you use tests? Observations? Are these graded?

What information or materials do operators have access to post-training?

Can you share more about your background and experience in developing and providing training?


Activity 2- Observation of Operators and Supervisors

Details of Activity/Method

Operators and Supervisors will be observed in their meetings and daily operations (including listening in on calls as appropriate).


Questions to Ask

Observation – Meetings

        1. Who leads departmental meetings?
        2. Is there a set agenda?
        3. What information is communicated?
        4. How often are there meetings? Are they regular in length and repeating dates?
        5. Who attends? Are the meetings mandatory for all Operators & Supervisors?
        6. Where is the meeting? Is it accessible by all employees?
        7. How is information communicated to employees who can’t attend or are off shift?

Observation – Daily Operations

        1. What is the layout of the floor? How close are employees to each other?
        2. What is the setup of each employee or supervisor station? What items are there?
        3. What is the shift schedules? Are breaks all taken at the same time per shift or at the same time? Is there a break room or do employees stay at their stations all day?
        4. How do employees start calls – with a greeting? Do they introduce themselves by name as a representative of ECG?
        5. Are they knowledgeable about the product(s)?
        6. At what point do calls get escalated to a supervisor? What expectations are set for transfer, such as: supervisor’s name, information shared so the customer doesn’t have to re-explain, etc?
        7. How are calls ended? Is there an invitation to return? Is the customer thanked for shopping with ECG?
        8. How do employees (Operators or Supervisors) log notes or time? Do they clock in/out?
        9. What opportunities are there to do self-development or learning (if any)?


Activity 3- Survey

Details of Activity/Method

Survey of Phone Operators and Supervisors.


Questions to Ask Phone Operators and Supervisors (anonymous)

Please rate the following statements on a scale of 1-5. 1 being strongly disagree, and 5 being strongly agree.

 Strongly DisagreeDisagreeNeither Agree nor DisagreeAgreeStrongly Agree
The company culture is good.12345
My work is meaningful.12345
ECG offers adequate opportunities for promotions and career advancement.12345
My contributions are valued.12345
I have the tools and technologies to do my job well.12345
ECG leadership communicates news effectively.12345
My responsibilities are clearly defined.12345
Work is distributed evenly across my team.12345
I feel connected to my co-workers.12345
My job utilizes my skills and abilities.12345
Leadership is invested in my team?12345
My managers value my feedback?12345
Our order process is efficient12345
I’m confident I can handle any situation that may happen during the order process.12345
My training was sufficient to allow me to perform to the company’s expectations.12345
Our customer complaints process is efficient.12345
Our scheduling is fair and works well for me.12345
It’s easy to make mistakes in the order process.12345
Leadership responds to issues quickly.12345
Leadership cares about my performance level.12345
The training I receive on current products is effective.12345
The training I receive on future products is effective.12345
I have a strong knowledge of the products.12345
Management expects too much from me.12345
I feel satisfied with my job.12345


Activity 4- Focus Group

Details of the Activity/Method

Focus Group. In a series of focus groups, bring together Telephone Operators in small groups (less than 10) to ask a series of questions, using facilitation skills to obtain responses across attendees and to move the discussion along when needed. Then we will compare responses within and across groups to see where there is or isn’t overlap. Follow-up interviews can be conducted with any staff that may have more to say about these topics (that can be discussed in this format) or to address sensitive issues that may arise.


Questions to Ask

Order Process

        • Can you walk us through the order process from start to end?
        • What do you think works?
        • What doesn’t?

Complaint Process

        • What is the policy for handling complaints?
        • What can be the most challenging?
        • What would be helpful to address those challenges?


        • Can you describe the types of training you have received?
        • What has been effective?
        • What hasn’t been?
        • How do you prefer to receive training?


        • If you were promoted to be the CEO, what are the first three changes you would implement and why?


Activity 5- Customer Journey Map

Details of Activity/Method

Customer Journey Mapping. EduCadre will meet with Jane MacKenzie, and Supervisors to create three customer personas.  Using customer demographics as a starting point, they will project details to create a story that explains the motivation and background story for three example customers. Each persona will interface with ECG in the three most typical forms of engagement:

        • By placing an order online
        • By placing an order over the phone
        • By calling with a question about an item

Example persona: Claire Duncan, is a 42-year old mother of two children under the age 7; she and her husband Hank, her college sweetheart, have been married for 9 years. She has been collecting Christmas memorabilia from the time she was a preteen, starting with a Christmas keepsake she received from her grandmother. She lives far from her hometown, and her collection is a way for her to maintain a connection with her family. She has bought at least 8-10 new items from ECG each holiday season for the last 5 years). She likes to place orders over the phone because she has a lot of questions about each item.

Ms. MacKenzie and Supervisors will then walk EduCadre through the steps of engagement from the customer perspective for each persona. When possible, the actual steps will be implemented to mirror reality as much as possible (e.g., placing an order in real-time). EduCadre will map out each persona experience to create a process map and then debrief to identify areas of improvement.


Questions to Ask

Trigger event:

        • List all possible ways a customer may start the process of engagement with ECG (ex. receipt of catalog? Email blast? friend recommendation?)

Order process:

        • By phone: what is the number to dial? How long does it take to get a response? What is the greeting?
        • Online: Where on the website do you find the catalog? How to find an item of interest?

Making the purchase:

        • By phone: What are all the steps involved in placing the order or being able to ask a question of a live operator? What information is requested from the customer? Are there hold times? If so, how long and what happens while on hold?
        • Online: How to mark an item for purchase? What options are available during the checkout? How can the customer obtain more information while making the purchase?
        • Both: What information/prompts does the customer receive throughout the order? How long does it take from start to finish?

Receiving the purchase (when applicable):

        • When is the product received?
        • What information/prompts does the customer receive post-order?


EduCadre will produce the process maps outlining the steps of engagement for the three identified modes. In a debrief session with Ms. MacKenzie and Supervisors and will inquire:

        • How easy or difficult is each step?

Is there anything they would change or improve?


Activity 6- Focus Group

Details of the Activity/Method

Focus Group- Customers (Note- can do this before the Customer Journey mapping to include comparisons of experience).


Questions to Ask

What are your primary concerns when you place an order?

Was this your first time ordering from ECG? If so, what would incline you to purchase again in the future? What would deter you?

Do you value speed and efficiency over assistance with product descriptions, or vice versa?

Do you prefer to order over the phone or over the Internet?

Do you value personal attention, or fast ordering?

What has been your biggest complaint when ordering products from companies in the past?


Activity 7- Mystery Shopper

Details of Activity/Method

Observation – calls. Mystery Shopper. Recruit individuals to pose as customers to pose various scenarios and document response and experiences.


Questions to Ask

Mystery Shopper – Experience Checklist

        1. Wait time (in minutes) to connect with an ECG representative
        2. Name of ECG representative(s) you interacted with
        3. Were you greeted at the beginning of the conversation? What was said?
        4. What products were recommended and did they fit the need you expressed?
        5. Was the ECG representative knowledgeable about the products discussed?
        6. Did the ECG representative suggest additional items you might like?
        7. Did the ECG representative close the call with a pleasant statement such as “Thank You” or an invitation to call back in the future? If so, what was the statement?
        8. How was the call quality? Were you able to clearly hear the ECG representative?
        9. How long was the call from start to finish?
        10. Would you be willing to shop with ECG?


Activity 8- Document Review

Details of the Activity/Method

EduCadre will review organization documents with a view toward discovering management strategies, issues, and expectations.


Questions to Ask

      1. Employee Handbook – Discover company culture and expectations for conduct.
      2. Policy & Procedure Manuals – Verify legal and safety information is communicated clearly as well as procedures for reporting ethical or legal problems.
      3. Job Descriptions – Compare how the company describes roles externally and how consistent that description is with actual roles.
      4. Employee Evaluation Forms – Find how employees are evaluated and what the rubric for success looks like.
      5. Organizational Charts – Hierarchy of departments and reporting for employees.
      6. Customer Service Surveys – Poll previous customer data and compare to find changes over time.
      7. Catalogs (Print and Web) – View the layout of product offerings and what information is provided to customers in regards to graphics and text.
      8. Staff Communications (Memos, Emails, Public Notices) – Note overall communication tone from leadership and how often changes are communicated.


Roadblocks & Dependencies

Roadblocks / DependenciesMitigation Strategies
Low participation in surveys, and groups.Stress to management that employee and customer participation is important. Offer incentive (raffle, voucher to spend on company merchandise)
Interview exhaustionFrequent breaks if interviews run long and prioritize questions so that interviews can be cut short if exhaustion is detected by the interviewer.
Difficulties scheduling focus groupsForewarning management and ensuring buy-in
Odd number Likert scale may skew data toward midpointPilot survey
Reluctance of staff to be observed; potential for discomfort and resentmentWork with management on how to positively message the purpose of these activities; meet with any staff individually as needed to hear out any concerns
Customers may be biased toward (or against company)Ask all customers for a 30-day period if they would be willing to be contacted regarding their experience and follow up with that group.
Out of date, inconsistent or unavailable documents for reviewPoll both tenured and new employees about materials they have and eliminate duplicates; researching both digital and hard copies of training documents, job descriptions, employee handbooks, and internal memos and meeting notes and agendas.
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