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Inside View: LEGO® Consumer Services

Inside View: LEGO® Consumer Services

Inside View: LEGO® Consumer Services

Operations Support Team plays a critical role in keeping sales and service processes flowing smoothly.

Not many brands inspire the degree of consumer devotion that LEGO Systems, Inc. does. The emotional connection that fans feel toward the iconic toy brick has spawned numerous enthusiast clubs, events and blogs. It’s the type of dedication that many companies try to emulate, and which LEGO Systems, Inc. has enjoyed for decades.

With such a loyal fan base, it’s not surprising that LEGO Systems, Inc. products and customer service are held to the highest quality standards. The LEGO Group’s guiding principle—“Only the best is good enough”—was set by founder Ole Kirk Kristiansen in 1932, and the company hasn’t wavered from it.

The members of the LEGO Operations Support Team (OST) apply that principle on a daily basis to the support that they offer to consumers and contact center advisors, as well as various internal and external stakeholders. Led by Operations Support Team Lead Mark Kantor, the OST’s daily contribution to a smooth and efficient order-flow process is significant. The team ensures that orders which are placed online or over the phone flow properly to the warehouse. The company’s service and sales advisors turn to OST when they experience issues that impact orders, whether those are caused by system, inventory or website errors, payment or carrier issues, or invalid information entered online.

“When there are issues with deliveries, carriers or product inventory, it’s our job to identify what the issue is and contact the appropriate department to get those orders flowing,” Kantor says. OST consists of nine FTEs (five members are dedicated to the team’s core functions, along with four product specialists), although the team’s size typically doubles during high season—the six-week period that begins the Saturday before Thanksgiving and runs until Christmas Eve—when volume can double or triple.

OST is also responsible for processing postal mail, receiving and responding to emails and faxes, processing gift card orders placed over the phone or online, and product returns. Whether it’s responding to a parts request or resolving a glitch in the order process, the team strives to handle the majority of the requests it receives within the same day.

Keeping Potential Issues in Check

In addition to their daily support responsibilities and tasks, OST excels at identifying and resolving unexpected issues that drive additional traffic to the contact center. The team defines these as “micro-crises” because they consider anything that impacts consumers or a contact center advisor’s ability to service a consumer to be an urgent issue.

“Once an issue is reported or we notice a trend, it’s my team’s responsibility to reach out to the appropriate area within the company and have that resolved as quickly as possible,” explains Kantor. While a speedy response is the goal, he adds that the team thoroughly assesses the impact of an issue before taking action. “Sometimes it’s a minor thing, and we can reach out to someone and it will be fixed very quickly,” he says. “Other times, it’s a bit more meaty and we might have to pull in a few people to have a discussion about which direction we want to take to resolve that particular issue.”

Kantor recalls a recent example in which there was a sudden increase in rejected LEGO Club memberships. Rejects typically occur when orders placed online cannot be completed due to invalid information entered on the website. To identify the root-cause of the issue, Kantor’s team first examined the rejected memberships to identify what they had in common. In this case, a number of subscriptions were not uploaded properly after consumers had subscribed to the LEGO Club magazine. OST then examined the process, step by step, and discovered that a glitch in an Excel file was improperly formatting consumers’ zip codes and preventing the membership data from uploading into the CRM system. The team was able to quickly tackle the issue before it became a problem that impacted consumers or the contact center.

To ensure that they are meeting response time goals, the team meets every afternoon at 2 p.m. for a daily status check. They use this time to review all of the 50-plus tasks that they handle every day, and to check whether anything has occurred to drive a volume increase in any of those tasks. “If that’s the case, we immediately reassign people to mitigate that volume, and we would initiate a go-look-see to try to discover the root cause of the problem,” Kantor explains.

A Continuous Improvement Culture

In addition to monitoring the order-flow process and resolving any issues that surface, OST members are encouraged to proactively identify opportunities to improve internal processes that affect the customer experience.

“The LEGO culture is one that focuses on continuous improvement,” Kantor says. “It is expected that what is good today is not good enough for tomorrow, so we are constantly looking for some small improvements, day to day, whether it is in the wording of the emails we send out or the streamlining of processes,” says Kantor. “We take a close look at the eight forms of waste, and we try to eliminate them in everything we do.”

The eight forms of waste, a Lean Six Sigma concept, guide the team to examine and eliminate any step or action in a process that doesn’t add value or is not required to deliver high-quality customer service.

The eight most common types of waste are:

  • Transport—Moving people, products and information.
  • Inventory—Storing parts, pieces or documentation ahead of requirements.
  • Motion—Bending, turning, reaching, lifting; i.e., is it unnecessary or wasteful motion?
  • Waiting—Waiting for parts, information, instructions or new equipment to arrive.
  • Overproduction—Making more than is immediately required.
  • Overprocessing—Having the right number of people responsible for the steps in a process.
  • Defects—When the warehouse packs and ships material, are they doing it correctly? Are there a high number of returns that are driving negative consumer experiences?
  • Skills—Are the capabilities of team members being underutilized, or are tasks being delegated to individuals who don’t have adequate training to successfully complete them?

In addition, OST holds biweekly CI (Continuous Improvement) meetings at which employees are encouraged to discuss and submit improvement suggestions to the WIN Committee (What If Network). “We believe that the best source of improvements come from the people who are actually doing the work, because they are the hands-on, boots-on-the-ground folks who are responsible for getting the work done within that process,” says Kantor.

Sharing Information Builds Collaborative Relationships

Whether it’s resolving a potential micro-crisis or proactively working through a process improvement task or initiative, OST’s strong performance stems from the team’s ability to collaborate effectively with a variety of internal stakeholders and business partners.

“Our product specialists are very good at fostering interdepartmental cooperation,” Kantor says. “We build that collaborative relationship by providing information that adds value to the relationship, both for us and for those key stakeholders.”

For instance, product specialists provide key stakeholders and business partners with detailed information about what may have gone right or wrong with a particular product. “They will offer very specific data that can be shared with business holders showing the number of contacts that were received because of a given situation. We also provide reports to show the impact of those contacts on our Net Promoter Scores (NPS).” Since everyone at LEGO Systems, Inc. is held accountable for NPS, all stakeholders and partners feel the same sense of urgency to ensure that anything that may have an impact on consumers is a priority.

An Elite Team of Problem Solvers

The ability to analyze and improve processes that flow across functions calls for creative problem-solving abilities, as well as a thorough knowledge of the business, products and the supply chain.

“The knowledge base that my team has to have in order to be successful is extremely broad,” Kantor says. “We don’t just have to know about the products, we have to know about the supply chain—where our product comes from, how the bricks get made, how the products are packaged, where are the warehouses located, what method of transportation we use to get products from one warehouse to a consumer versus the method of transportation we would use to get it from another warehouse to the consumer. We also have to know how our systems interact with each other so if something goes wrong, we can track down that root cause by peeling the layers of the onion back and getting to the heart of the matter.”

The OST team’s in-depth knowledge about how LEGO works makes them highly sought-after by other areas of the company. Much of the attrition that Kantor has experienced has been positive, as the contact center—and the OST, in particular—is considered to be a “feeder” for the organization. As such, standards for hiring are high, even for seasonal staff. Kantor looks for individuals who display a strong attention to detail, the ability to work independently yet collaborate when necessary, and strong analytical and communication skills.

“I also look for individuals who are friendly and open,” he says. “After all, we support the advisors on the floor. We want folks to call us expecting to be helped in a friendly way.” Good candidates for OST also display the right traits to deliver on the team’s mission: “To consistently provide world-class, FRKE, global sales support to advisors and to our internal and external stakeholders.” FRKE (pronounced “freaky”) stands for Fun, Reliable, Knowledgeable and Engaging.

“We can train anybody to be knowledgeable and to be reliable with their information,” Kantor says. “I look for candidates who are fun and engaging. Those are personality traits that we cannot necessarily train in someone, but I definitely want my team to have fun while we’re working.”

Kantor considers frequent food parties to be great way to network and build rapport among his team. Within the contact center, “Fun Fridays” help to engage all employees with activities like a recent Video Game Day, in which teams decorated their work areas in different video game themes and dressed up as their favorite characters. “We have Luau Days and Hawaiian Shirt Fridays,” he says. “In the winter, we have Flannel Shirt Fridays. Things like that help to keep employee motivation and engagement high.”

The playful atmosphere also helps to create an energizing environment for the OST members, who are dedicated to the job and consistently go above and beyond to support their customers, says Kantor. “They are truly committed to ensuring that the advisors on the floor and the consumers they interact with have the best experience possible, and they will put in whatever effort is necessary to get the job done,” he says. “I’m very proud of my team. They are one of the hardest-working groups of individuals that I’ve had the pleasure of managing, and they do a phenomenal job.”

Susan Hash

Susan Hash

Susan Hash served as Editorial Director of Contact Center Pipeline magazine and the Pipeline blog from 2009-2021. She is a veteran business journalist with over 30 years of specialized experience writing about customer care and contact centers.
Twitter: @susanhash

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