Blog author

Clayton Taylor, MBA, is a Management Research Analyst, Pr. and Certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt working in the Office of the Executive Vice President, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer at Arizona State University. He currently consults with nine diverse Business and Finance operational areas to lower costs, improve operational efficiency and provide the highest quality customer experience to internal and external customers. Mr. Taylor can be reached at

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The Reasons That Employees Do Not Perform

When working to improve our service processes, it is important to take a holistic approach, and examine all aspects of the service for opportunities.  This means that we do not want to focus solely on the process steps; but also want to look at how well the people who provide the services are performing.  At times, we will find that the employees are not doing as well as they should be.  When this happens, we have to search out what is driving their lack of performance, and work on fixing the problem at its root.

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Defining Service Excellence in Your ASU Team

Why is it important to have customer service standards? It does not have to be specific to ASU, but in general, why would any organization want to have a customer service standard?

Until last year, ASU did not have a central definition of service excellence. The purpose of the Sun Devil Service Standard and Principles is to define this for ASU.

We needed to define service excellence because:

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The Six Sigma DMAIC Method

It seems like every approach to project management or process improvement has its own model to guide people through the process.  The models usually come with their own clever acronym to help people remember the key points or phases, and Six Sigma is no exception.  We use the acronym DMAIC to describe the five phases of a Six Sigma project.  In this blog I am going to walk you through these phases, describe the purpose of each phase, and tell you a little bit about what happens during each one.

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Critical To Quality Characteristics

An important term that we use in Lean Six Sigma is ‘critical to quality characteristic,’ or CTQ.  In order to understand what a CTQ is, and the role it plays in services, we have to start with the concept of deterministic reasoning.  As I described in a previous blog, deterministic reasoning states that our output (i.e. a service provided to a customer and the resulting service experience) is a direct result of the process we use to provide the service, and the inputs that go into it.  The critical to quality characteristics describe the output (the service and customer experience).

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An Introduction To Process Mapping

When you begin looking at a service process with the intention of improving it, it is important to start out by developing a better understanding of how the process works, and what goes into and comes out of it.  A good place to start is by creating a process map.  This is a pictorial representation of a process, made up of a variety of graphical symbols and connecting arrows, which show the stream of activities and decision points that make up the process.

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Who Applies Six Sigma?

I am a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt.  When I introduce myself using that description, I occasionally get some strange looks.  I even had one person question why I was using a martial arts title in a business setting.  Admittedly, the use of belt terms can be confusing to those who are not familiar with Six Sigma, and I usually have to take a moment and describe what they mean.

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Some New Year’s Resolutions

On January 1st people all over make New Year’s resolutions to do things differently, to make changes for the better, or expand their personal horizons.  Granted, lots of the resolutions are ancient history by January 3rd.  Much of that comes from the fact that making a resolution is easy, but without a good plan and a disciplined approach to making the change happen, big plans fall flat.

I’m not going to ask you to make resolutions, but I do want to wrap up this year and start the next by asking you to consider doing a few things in 2015.

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Dealing With Obstacles When Starting Improvement Projects

I have to admit I do not like the saying ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ I understand its usage, but it promotes the idea of leaving things alone until they fail on their own. I would be happier if the saying were ‘If it ain’t broke, verify that it works and will not fail.’ I’m sure customers would be happier too.

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Making Service Improvement Projects Manageable

One question I often get asked is how to charter and execute a project that will improve service in a department or operational unit.  With so many factors and potential changes to consider, it appears to be a daunting task.  This is usually because the person asking the question is viewing the concept of ‘service’ as a single entity that has to be addressed all at once – a fix everything now approach.  The truth is, trying to improve service across the board in one project is a recipe for disaster

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Defining A Problem Before Fixing It

I have been looking at customer feedback data from a couple of areas around the university, and I keep seeing phrases like ‘poor customer service’ and ‘rude’ popping up in the comments.  I am not bringing this up because of what the comments say, but because of what they don’t say.

Based on these comments, the departments could do the following to improve customer service or address rude employees:

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