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    Thou Shalt Not Hamper Our KPI.PNG

  • At Benchmark Six Sigma, I conduct Green Belt workshops in major cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad, etc. This means a very hectic training calendar and regularly scheduled traveling. Lately, I have become accustomed to online shopping for most of my requirements.


    Since I am not home most of the times, whenever an order is delivered, one of the following things happen,

    1. The order is taken back by the delivery guy and a reattempt is made on the next day.
    2. The courier guy calls me seeing my door locked. Many a time, being occupied in a training, I am unable to pick up such a call.
    3. If I get a call and fortunately I am able to answer it, I direct him to hand it over to my watchman. The delivery guy would not do so unless he makes me talk to the watchman and get the confirmation of handing over the item to him.


    2 out of 3 times the order goes back to the courier hub and after 2 such attempts, the courier office advised me to collect the item myself from the hub. Now I have started planning appropriate days to place an order online so that I am available home when it is delivered. But again, either the deliveries reach early or, at times, late. Net result – the same three scenarios.

    Recently, I came across a paid subscription service of an e-commerce giant. One of the prime features of that subscription was “Next day delivery of the orders” which I found very need worthy, considering my situation. It had an option for a 1-month free trial before I paid for the annual subscription. Post subscription to the trial, I placed my first order. From the status messages being sent to me (Order confirmation, order dispatch) within no time of placing the order, I felt very confident about receiving the order the next day. Next day morning I woke up to the message “Your order is Out for delivery and will be delivered today before 7 pm”. “Great!” I said to myself and got occupied in work.


    To my surprise, at around 9 pm I got a message “Order delivered. The package was handed directly to the customer. The delivery receipt was signed by the customer”. I was startled to see the message as no order had been delivered and I hadn’t signed any acknowledgment of receipt. I called up the customer care (CC) immediately. This is how the conversation went:


    Me: (Explaining the scenario in a rather frustrated voice)

    CC: Sir, please don’t worry. Sometimes the courier personnel are not able to complete their daily deliveries and may update the status to avoid missing targets. The order will be definitely delivered to you tomorrow before 12 pm (Here goes the “Next day delivery”). Please rest assured. It is common for the delivery personnel to do that and I will personally ensure your order is delivered tomorrow early morning.


    Me: Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of the subscription.

    CC: I regret the inconvenience and I assure you this will not happen again. Is there anything else I can help you with?


    Me: No. Thank you. (I disconnected the call)


    The order was delivered on the next day before noon, but the fact that the tracking still showed a previous day’s date, as delivered, bothered me. However, the excitement of the checking out my new fitness band made me forget the incident.The next order was delivered on time and I became less skeptical of the subscription program.

    The third order I placed was in the last week of the free trial period. On the next day of placing the order, I got a message “Your order is Out for Delivery and will be delivered today before 9 pm”. “All well, is,” I said to myself. At around 8:30 pm I thought of calling the delivery guy (DG) to confirm if he was coming in the next half an hour. This is how the conversation went:


    Me: Hello, is this Ishan? Your name and number mentioned in my order tracking sheet and it says that you will be delivering my order today before 9 pm.

    DG: (In a harsh tone): Who is this? What order…oh…ok…what was the address on your order?


    Me: (Giving him the address)

    DG: Yes. Got it. Your order will be delivered tomorrow



    Me: But, the tracking mentions today

    DG: Today it is not possible. I’ll deliver it before 12 pm tomorrow.


    Me: But…

    DG: Today impossible Sir, will deliver tomorrow.


    He hung up the call abruptly post that dialogue.

    Exasperated, I thought of calling the customer care. Before I could do that, I received another message “Order delivered. The package was handed directly to the customer. The delivery receipt was signed by the customer”. Now, I was seriously infuriated. I dialed the customer care and this is how the conversation went:

  • Me: (Explaining the scenario in a condescending tone)

    The customer care guy repeated the very same thing I had heard of my first order.  Very angry this time, I said, I would not agree to see the status is shown as “Ordered delivered”. I requested it should be shown as “Delivery deferred” and a deeper investigation should be done with respect to the in compliance by the delivery personnel. Agreeing to my requirements the CC hangs up the phone.


    2 out of 3 times they missed the delivery date commitment and the website keeps on showing all 3 delivered in time. I wonder what they do with such kind of erroneous and flawed data. Is it worthy of any analysis? I did get a link for delivery experience survey post the delivery. Even if I rank them poorly in that survey, is someone going to point out the mismatch between the two?


    Shall someone ask the question “If the delivery was on time (Which it wasn’t), why has the customer rated it so poorly?” or will they conclude that the poor rating is due to some other attribute of the service not meeting expectations


    I was curiously waiting for the CC to update my true status. After some time I got a message” We could not deliver the order as a customer was not available”. Oh! I just love the determination of these people. “Come what may, thou shall not hamper our KPI !!”


    I remember reading this some time back, a cheat called“The customer pending cheat”. Service providers only can be held accountable for things they have under their own control. While this is very logical, it can also be heavily misused. Making it pending on the other party and simply claiming that this is now out of the scope of your service responsibility. “What is the reason we could not meet the delivery commitments?” simply blame the customer. I guess there is no way to disprove this false claim.  Now the order status on the website shows “Order delayed-customer not available”!


    “How often does it occur that your VOC does not effectively capture the customer requirements?” KPIs are met but the customer is not satisfied.


    “Are there other factors which contribute to customer satisfaction that is not being measured?” We must agree that an SLA might not be able to capture all the KPIs critical for success.


    And the most important question – “Are you on the right path if your KPIs are not giving you the complete picture?”


    I wish they find out the mismatch between their internal reports and customer satisfaction feedback they collect post-delivery. I cannot help myself from smirking at the thought that some fine day, a Six Sigma expert might be consulted on a project to address the problem of low conversions from trial to paid subscriptions. He might ask the question with regards to compliance to the important commitments of the subscription and the data shall show 100% compliance. Will he question the data or will he unknowingly move on to other reasons, thereby missing an important cause? No answers to that question. But I have an answer to another question.


    Am I going to buy the annual subscription? Well, the answer is “NO!”

    Disclaimer: This is a personal experience and could be totally an isolated incident (two rather!). I don’t wish to portray this as a complaint letter pinpointing any specific organization. The broader message is beyond the appalling experience and how I should have solved this typical problem. The message lies in answering the following questions:

    ·       Is your data/performance metric/KPI reflecting what the customer wants and checking if they are satisfied?

    ·       Is there a manipulation involved in the way you meet your KPIs?

    ·       Are there other factors affecting customer satisfaction which you might not be capturing?

    ·       And most importantly, how do you think you can fill in this gap?


    About the Author


    Parag Mehta is a Lean Six Sigma Consultant and Trainer at Benchmark Six Sigma. He has a blend of experience in the application of six sigma tools to Manufacturing, Research & development, Quality control and Technical services. He loves to use real life stories for explaining various techniques and concepts in his trainings. He has special interest in Design of Experiments, Problem Solving, Process improvement, Data analysis tools and Capability building. In addition to his expertise on statistical methodology, Parag has done extensive work in the application of the same in Pharmaceutical and Healthcare area.

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