Unlocking the potential of about 475,000 people
How First Choice is implemented worldwide
What makes First Choice so different from other programs? The fact that it thrives on the participation of each and every employee worldwide. Every employee can (and should) get involved. First Choice is about harnessing the potential of the 475,000 people working for Deutsche Post DHL in order to benefit the company's customers as well as the company itself.
The idea behind the approach is simple: Employees, as experts in their particular fields of work, know their business processes and customers inside and out. If there are problems in the area of service, they are the first to know. First Choice is designed to turn these experiences into the "stuff" of improvement initiatives geared toward increasing service quality and customer satisfaction ratings in all areas of business. To maximize the potential that is there, First Choice provides employees with a series of tools designed to help them get involved and stay involved.
More than 120,000 employees have become involved in First Choice, either by supporting their co-workers in workshops or becoming directly involved in a First Choice Team. But this is just the beginning. The First Choice program has set ambitious goals.
120,000 employees might equal the population of a small city, but it represents just one-fourth of our entire workforce. That is why we are continually training our employees in the First Choice method, getting people excited about the program and getting them directly involved as process optimization experts in their own areas of work.
Employees need to be introduced to First Choice and the methodology behind it gradually and systematically. Deutsche Post DHL has developed a series of methods, management tools and employee training formats to achieve this.
The First Choice tools, borrowed from those used in the manufacturing industry, have been fine-tuned to fit the particularities and requirements of the service industry.
One of the methods employed is called the DMAIC cycle, a five-phase procedure for initiating and implementing process improvement projects. As part of the Six Sigma improvement strategy, it enjoys widespread application throughout the industry. DMAIC stands for:
What is the customer's problem exactly? With which aspects is the customer not satisfied? What needs to happen in order to make the customer's life easier?
What is the extent of the customer's problem in quantifiable terms? Is data already available for analysis, or must data be generated to measure the problem? What are the impacts of the problem?
What is at the root of the problem? Is there just one cause of the problem, or are there perhaps many? Where are the trouble spots in the process?
What can we do to improve our performance in order to better meet customer expectations? What can we do to enthuse and inspire the customer?
How can the success of the measure be measured and monitored? How can we maintain the level of improvement over the long-term?
Larger First Choice projects are processed through the DMAIC cycle in order to maintain constant improvement in the area of service quality. These initiatives can last up to half a year - or however long it takes to effect long-lasting improvements for the customer. The DMAIC cycle is not always necessary, however. For "smaller" problems encountered by employees in their day-to-day work, First Choice offers specially designed workshops to mobilize the employees' front-line expertise in developing their own suggestions for improvement.
Deutsche Post DHL's own Market Research Service Center (MRSC) supports the First Choice project teams in pinpointing customer needs. Utilizing a broad range of tools including questionnaires, surveys and outsourced data, the MRSC researches and analyzes the expectations and experiences of customers in the Group's core markets.
Up to 170 customer satisfaction surveys are carried out each year for various country organizations. The crucial yardstick in this context are the so-called Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which are used to translate otherwise non-quantifiables such as the quality of collection service or complaints management into figures they can work with. This not only quantifies the problem at the start, i.e. the initial situation, it also provides a measure of success once the optimization process is implemented.
Each First Choice project involves workshops and brainstorming sessions. Deutsche Post DHL has developed extensive materials and tools to support the initiative teams, including a toolkit with moderator cards, audio files and posters. This approach assures global continuity and transparency, with First Choice teams using the same method and the same tools no matter where they are in the world. It also allows for employees, no matter where they work within the Group, to get involved and unleash their full potential in the name of improving service and pleasing customers.