Scrum in Action in Customer Service

By Mark C. Layton, David Morrow

Many companies use scrum but haven’t applied it to their customer service departments. These firms could greatly improve their customer service, and their bottom line, if they used scrum across the board. If an organization already uses scrum, it should have enough experience and knowledge to share with other departments.

Integral to the scrum transformation is making sure that a customer service rep is present in every sprint review for product development scrum teams. Transparency and awareness stem from this integration between customer service and product development.

Service representative scrum teams can plan training and other process-improvement activities during sprints. Additionally, service representatives can learn from the product development sprint reviews and share this information with their teams.

L.A. Water and Power and scrum

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power implemented the scrum framework without calling it scrum. The goal was to enhance customer satisfaction in its net meter Solar Incentive Program. The program offers incentives to offset the cost of installing a solar rooftop system at your home or business. The department wanted to reduce delays, streamline the overall customer experience, and increase transparency.

To increase transparency, the department implemented two dashboards, called Mayor’s Dashboards, to help customers stay abreast of changes and improvements. One dashboard included weekly updates on metrics, including the status of rebate checks. The second dashboard displayed the Feed-in Tariff 100-megawatt program, which the city used to purchase third-party solar power. The time and process involved in processing FiT contracts was displayed, and both dashboards displayed issues, solutions, and response times. A huge increase in transparency occurred.

These sprint backlogs were made available to all stakeholders and customers. The department also consistently inspected and adapted its process to streamline the process for reviewing applications. Results of this inspection and adaptation included increased staff to handle applications and hotline service, removed dependencies between rebate payment and turning on service, reduced review time of lease agreements through a lease compliance form, and automation of routine email communications with customers and contractors.

The main improvements streamlined existing systems and increased clarity. By enhancing the customer experience, the department greatly increased customer service. It targeted the causes of issues and set about to fix them with scrum principles.