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Why You Should Reexamine Your Company’s Self-Service Capabilities

Since the introduction of the Shared Services model almost 30 years ago the term “self-service” was touted as a masterful way to reengineer work processes by having originators of transactions, whether they be employees, suppliers, or customers, complete a simplified set of tasks to yield a transaction for Shared Services that was otherwise fully automated.  The initial pushback was the concern that if self-service placed additional work demands upstream, the net result was a transfer of work out of Shared Services to the originator of the transaction, rather than elimination of work through better process design and the creative use of technology.   However, through careful design and the leveraging of new technologies, concerns about “shifting work” have largely been eliminated. 

Peeriosity’s iPollingTM functionality was recently used by a member who needed accurate and objective feedback from their peers regarding the success (or failure) of their self-service initiatives.  In the words of the member: “We are expecting that implementation of superior self-help through portal initiatives and improvements will enable users to obtain information faster and with higher customer satisfaction than contacting our call centers. We want to validate this assumption with other major companies.”

This Peeriosity member used iPollingTM to draft two questions that examined this issue.  Responses were posted in real-time, with visibility to company responses available to all Peeriosity members, allowing for direct communication with peers using Peeriosity’s integrated Peer MailTM capabilities.

The first question asked about the current status of your Shared Services operations regarding the self-service functionality that is provided to employees, suppliers, and customers.  Interestingly, only 5% indicated they had self-service in all process areas with robust functionality and usage, with 27% indicating self-service was implemented in some process areas with strong functionality and usage.  50% of member companies answered that self-service was implemented in some process areas, but functionality and/or usage is less than originally envisioned. 

best description of current status of shared services regarding Self-Service Capabilities ipolling

The second question asked about the status of your Shared Services operation in carrying out a special follow-on initiative to deliver improved performance from the existing self-service that is provided to employees, suppliers, and customers.  The results show that 75% of companies either haven’t considered the opportunity or are currently evaluating the idea of having a follow-on initiative to improve self-service performance.  10% of the companies have seen increased self-service use after pursuing a special follow-on initiative, and at an additional 10%, it’s too early to tell.  Finally, 5% indicated that little improvement resulted from the extra efforts to reinvigorate their self-service performance.

status of shared services carrying out special initiatives to deliver improved performance Self-Service Capabilities ipolling

Developing, monitoring, and working to continuously improve self-service capabilities can be an important enabler to streamlining processes, reducing cost and complexity, and improving overall quality and efficiency.  While the original idea may have lost its luster, the impact of a successful implementation is no less meaningful.

Here are a few of the comments from responding companies:

  • We actually have self-service implemented in both areas that are seeing high success (these are more established areas and the self-service function is more mature) and those that are experiencing less usage than envisioned. The latter is at least a couple of instances because we didn’t implement the right solution to support self-service as envisioned and so have had to revert somewhat to a hybrid process that is heavily manual with limited self-service.
  • A key challenge is creating an exceptional user experience; self-service needs to be highly intuitive with relevant content.  In our experience, it may take multiple iterations to accomplish this.
  • We would like to increase the usage of the supplier’s self-service functionality. Currently, we provide payment status look-up and we’d like to add additional capabilities.

What self-service functionality is in place for Shared Services at your company for employees, suppliers, and customers?  How often do you review performance to see if there are ways to improve the performance of your self-service initiatives? 

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?


 “iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility of all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated e-mail system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participate in iPolling.

Peeriosity members are invited to log into to join the discussion and connect with Peers.   Membership is for practitioners only, with no consultants or vendors permitted.  To learn more about Peeriosity, click here.


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