Fishbone (Cause and Effect) Diagram

A fishbone diagram organizes possible causes into a visual format that is quickly understood.

Making fishbone diagrams is easy (here’s the Powerpoint file for the one below).

The following fishbone diagram was made by a customer service team addressing lengthy customer call times –

Fishbone Diagram Example
Fishbone Diagram Example for Call Center

Here are the steps that the team followed in creating the fishbone diagram –

Step Description
State the Problem The problem statement was first placed at the “head of the fish.”  In this case, the problem statement is, “Call Times Exceeding Two Minutes.”  This is a good problem statement because it is very specific and will keep the team focused.
Document Possible Causes Before the “skeleton” of the fishbone diagram was filled in, the team brainstormed possible causes for excessive call times.  Then they grouped the causes into three major categories:  (a) customer service rep knowledge, (b) customer knowledge, and (c) call center environment.
Complete the Diagram In total, eight possible causes were assigned to the three groups above.  The causes included things like call center training, customer education, and creating a better call center environment.

After completing the fishbone diagram, the team collected data for two weeks using a check sheet.  The team then tallied up the reasons for all calls exceeding two minutes.

Using the team’s data, a Pareto Chart was constructed and the team implemented fixes that reduced excessive call times by 72%.

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