Quality and Productivity Database

Descriptive Title of Proposal: Zone Service Delivery Model
Year Submitted 2011
Person(s) Responsible for the Idea
Name Title
Pierre Ouillet
David Woodson
Name of Institution The University of British Columbia
Office Address 2329 West Mail
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T1Z4
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Telephone: 604-822-0971
Email Address: Email hidden; Javascript is required.
Name (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) Pierre Ouillet
Title (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) VP Finance, Resources, and Operations
Office Address 6328 Memorial Road, Old Admin Bldg
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T1Z1
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Telephone: 604-822-4141
Email Address: Email hidden; Javascript is required.

In April 2009, the Finance, Resources and Operations portfolio was completely restructured by the new VP. Immediately after, Building Operations (also newly formed) was urged to dramatically simplify how work gets down. An advisory steering committee was created at the executive level and within the department a service delivery group began developing a new service delivery model in weekly meetings.


In December of 2009 Building Operations rolled out a new zone service delivery model to the campus. The zones were aligned by academic departments and trades were assigned to zone teams. The new model enabled Building Operations to enhance service while at the same time reduce administrative costs by 5% ($2M). In the old model the department struggled to keep up with the growing volume of routine requests (over 14,000 per year). Both customers and trades were frustrated with the Inability to get routine work requests completed in a timely fashion. The key paradigm shift informing the new zone-based model was to see customer service excellence as the ultimate measure of the department's success. The intention of the new approach was to drive customer service excellence by dramatically simplifying how work gets done by empowering zone trades with "guided autonomy."

Critical to the success of the new model was our employee's commitment and engagement. Our zone teams are fully engaged and thriving under the new model as evidenced by the multiple employee surveys we have conducted. Not only is the work getting done, but our employees are proud of their new reputation on campus.

Success in driving customer satisfaction under the new approach was measured using the "Net Promoter Score" (NPS) concept on a weekly basis. Utilization of the NPS benchmark has enabled continuous improvement and a tangible, accessible metric. The customer service satisfaction results are stunning, as the department has gone from being viewed as a "lost cause" to being the most "beloved" on campus, all within one year.

Criteria Please submit one paragraph describing how the proposal fulfills each of the evaluation criteria.

The lessons learned from the UBC zone model Implementation can be easily adapted by other institutions. Institutions with a less than desirable reputation for customer service stand to benefit most from this model. Dedication to change management was the key component to the success of this initiative and included the following components: Dedicated Project Team: We created an Operational Effectiveness (OE) group to assist in the implementation of the new service delivery model. The OE group and treated the initiative as a project, emphasizing upfront planning and driving delivery. Engaging the Staff: To enable a change-ready department, staff "buy-in" was imperative. We engaged the staff in focus groups during the planning phase. We held focus group for staff and customers and prior to the go-live date we had everything in place (communication methods, administrative processes, work flow, FAQs etc..) to ensure success. Weekly Customer Survey: To ensure a smooth transition to this entirely new model, we surveyed our customers on a weekly basis. To encourage feedback, the survey was posted on our website and consists of just one question. By soliciting frequent feedback and reviewing the results on a weekly basis, we are able to celebrate successes and provide corrective action in a timely manner. 8 Question Employee Survey: Instead of issuing the annual, 60 question survey, we put in place an 8 question employee survey that enabled simple, more frequent feedback. Now, we survey our zone staff on a quarterly basis -that simple! Scalability: We have 8 zones - approximately 1.2 million square feet of space per zone. For coverage, the zones are paired, so a campus would need a minimum of 2.4 million square feet for the UBC zone model to apply.

Quality Impact

One of the benefits of the weekly Net Promoter Scoring (NPS) system is that it enables timely feedback to our customers. The weekly rating system Is easy for our customers to use, and it is simple for the trades and managers to review the results. Clients are encouraged to respond to the following question with a 1 -10 "How would you rate your most recent experience with your Building Operations Zone team?" Scores of 9 or 10 are considered promoters, 6 or less are detractors, and scores of 7 or 8 are neutral. The net promoter score is simply the percentage of promoters less the detractors. The goal is to make Promoters out of all our customers. The survey takes seconds and the results are reviewed by the Building Operations leadership team on a weekly basis. When compared to our previous 'annual' surveys the success of the new model is dramatic. To obtain a score of 80% there needs to be 9 promoters (scoring 9 or 10) for every 1 detractor (score of 6 or less). In addition to the department NPS, we also track the NPS for each of the eight zones. This enables each zone team to review their performance and generates a healthy competitive spirit to improve their teams' zone score. The chart above was produced in November 2010, our NPS scores have consistently remained between 85 and 89 over the last three months. The NPS went live at the same time as the zone model and the results reflected the preparation and work the department put into this initiative. Within six months of the roll out, all zones exceeded the "high performer" target that was benchmarked against other companies that use this same metric. To date, all zones remain above the "high performer" target speaking to the sustained improvements to the quality of customer service.

Productivity Impact

The impact to productivity has been realized in two ways; cost savings, realized through reduced administrative work and the intangible increase in the amount of work the zone Trades have the potential to accomplish based on the simpler, more efficient process of managing work requests. A detailed analysis was conducted on the Trades shops that had the highest volume of work requests. In the three years reviewed, the selected Building Operations Trade shops annually received more than 14k work requests. ~70% of these work requests require a half-day's work (approximately four hours) to complete. In going into the zones and simplifying how work is processed these same requests are being handled in less than half the time, freeing up our trades to perform even more work within the zones and dramatically improving their responsiveness. By providing each of the zone trades with a Blackberry and the autonomy to plan and manage their work, the capacity to delivery more efficient and expeditious service has been significantly increased. Though the productivity improvement cannot be quantified specifically, the exceptionally high NPS scores suggest a more productive work force, able to meet customer expectations in a more timely fashion than under the previous model. All of these customer service improvements were done in conjunction with efforts to simplify processes within the department and delayer the existing organizational structure. The combined effect of these Initiatives was a $2M annualized savings which represents approximately 5% of the departments operating budget.


Guided autonomy - Staff engagement levels improved dramatically following the change to the zone model. Prior to the roll out, and then at several intervals afterward, the staff were surveyed in order to gauge the impact of the changes to the service delivery model. Both the survey's scores and the comments validated that the changes meant to empower and engage the staff have achieved their aim in making it simple, safe and efficient for Trades to "get things done for the customers." By spending a greater amount of time in fewer facilities on the campus, zone teams become more familiar with their working environment. With zones aligned by faculty, similar assets located in multiple facilities benefit from the continuity of service from the same zone trade. Customers are the beneficiaries of the biggest improvement to the quality of service. The ability to contact a single, dedicated individual for specific inquiries, whether to request some work or for an update, has given peace of mind. With the client requests taking priority, the response times have been drastically reduced as customers can expect to hear from their zone team member within hours. Finally, by creating a zone team who are empowered to deliver customer service excellence, the management of expectations has significantly increased. Previously Building Operations measured its success based on the number of trouble calls completed, or the time it took to resolve each call. Even though we finished a significant amount of trouble calls, our reputation across the campus community was not positive. In an effort to address this, the department decided that customer satisfaction would be the exclusive measure of success for the zone model. The trades were empowered to operate under the principal of guided autonomy. The vision for this model was to empower trades to foster direct relationships with their clients and buildings and to perform the work that would take less than two days on their own initiative.