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S. Michelle Cox, PhD: Deliver Better Products and Services to Customers Through Process Improvement

Pat English, of Credit Human, in San Antonio, Texas asked me to speak at the Credit Professionals International conference. Pat has seen examples of the work that Aventine Hill Partners (AHP) offers through our Process Improvement Practice in which I have led engagements as Senior Consultant. Our team of experienced professionals offers training, coaching, and project management or execution.

Pat generously introduced me to the attendees of the San Antonio, Texas conference on the afternoon of the first day. My presentation, Lean Six Sigma, reviewed the uses of the tools and methodology for the Financial Services Industry. My deep understanding of how Lean Six Sigma can be applied to financial services comes from both my engagements with Aventine Hill and my six sigma training and certification while working for GE Financial Assurance, which later became Genworth Financial.

Two examples in which we went into depth was an Accounts Payable process and Call Center Capacity. 

Accounts Payable Process

In this example, we talked how a company was receiving bills into multiple areas of the company. If a department had purchased software and licenses, the manager of that area received the bill directly, instead of it going into the Accounts Payable team. Through the use of the lean six sigma tools, we found that the delay would sometimes cost the company more by having a late fee assessed. If they centralized the process and then sent the bills through an electronic workflow to the managers for approval, they could get discounts for paying early with some vendors, and at least never have to pay a late fee.

Call Center Capacity

Most call center “canned” reports coming out of the technology applications calculate average call cycle times, average time to answer, and average abandonment rates. We showed a company that these were the incorrect measures of central tendency since the data was non-normally distributed. We worked with IT to obtain the raw data, calculated the medians and modes for cycle time, time to answer and abandonment rates. Armed with this better analytic data, we are able to improve people, process, and technology to give their customers a better experience. 

The presentation outlined the uses of the tools by discussing examples from projects such as Fraud and Money Laundering, Accounts Payable, Operations, Call Centers, Human Resources, Product Development, Underwriting, Collections, and many other departments in financial services areas. The attendees were interested in how these projects are similar to needs that many financial institutions face as the laws, regulations, and industry competition changes. While many people think that Lean Six Sigma is mainly used in manufacturing, I try to dispel that misconception since there are a multitude of tools that help find root causes of problems so that the solutions are not a band-aid, but a long term improvement.

I have been assisting AHP clients from multiple industries utilizing data driven tools and analysis to make business decisions that meet customer expectations, reduce risk and cost, and meet legal and regulatory requirements. The industries include: Architectural Design; Education Distribution; Financial Services; Information Technology Services; Marketing and Media; Non-Profits; Oil and Gas Distribution; and Professional Services. A success story from the financial services industry can be found here.


The Conference was a great opportunity for the attendees to share their thoughts and ideas about how the industry is changing and what they can use to meet those challenges around the United States. I appreciated the opportunity to meet with a group of people that have so much experience in the credit industry. I really appreciate the opportunity to present about a methodology that I passionately utilize every day!

Posted by S. Michelle Cox, PhD, Senior Consultant

Learn more about our Business and Technology practice.

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