AT&T: Reducing Length of Billing Process

Background

AT&T is a multinational telecommunications company headquartered in Dallas, Texas.

Customer dissatisfaction grew when AT&T experienced large delays in billing time. The company was mailing only 50 percent of its bills on time, falling short of its goal of 80 percent. Additionally, logjams of large mail containers were clogging up half of the plant. AT&T partnered with QualPro to reduce the time it took to print, enclose, and mail customer bills.

Approach

QualPro consultants evaluated AT&T’s measurement system to gain an understanding of how the company recorded billing delays. They measured the print time, the percentage of bills sent to the presort, and the number of labor hours per 10,000 bills. Next, our consultants assembled a team of AT&T’s managers and operators. Together, the team brainstormed potential improvement ideas designed to reduce the time from bill printing to bill mailing. Our consultants helped the team narrow the list to 19 ideas deemed practical, fast, and cost-free. Some of these ideas included creating new production goals, changing paper suppliers, and creating checklists for inspections.

Our consultants designed the experiments for AT&T personnel to perform. They created different combinations of the test ideas for each group to perform in two-and-a-half weeks. Each group reported their data every day. A screening experiment revealed that five ideas had a significant impact and were worthy of further exploration. Some significant ideas included offering employee incentives, making new labels, and using new training methods. A refining experiment revealed the precise magnitude of their impact. After analyzing the results, our consultants created recommendations for AT&T to implement in order to reduce the time between bill printing and bill mailing.

In accordance with our commitment to driving continuous improvement, our consultants worked closely with AT&T personnel to guide implementation of the employee incentives, the creation of new labels, and the creation of new training methods.

Results

After implementing QualPro’s recommendations, AT&T decreased key time measures by 60 percent and reduced post office rejects by 50 percent. The company mailed bills more quickly, which allowed customers to pay earlier. This resulted in annual savings of $10 million.