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Tactics to Reach Out to Shared Services Customers


Being able to reach out to your Shared Services customers to identify performance expectations, develop strategies, and conduct training can be a critical success factor for your operation, but it is often an area that is overlooked by many Shared Services organizations. While this type of customer engagement can be significant during the initial creation of a Shared Services operation, often, over time, the level of engagement can drop dramatically.  In this case, what may be called Shared Services or Business Services, is better described as centralized processing with little focus on understanding or meeting the needs of internal or external customers.

Company Experience

During a recent PeercastTM, a large company with over $10 billion in revenue and more than 50,000 employees, shared what they have learned about reaching out to their customers and some steps they have taken to improve their effectiveness in engaging with customers of their HR Shared Services operation.

The company’s HR Shared Service Center (HRSC) was started in 2011 and over the next three years, the transition was successfully executed.  Carrying out a wide variety of processes related to all the major HR functions, the primary stakeholders and customers for this operation include the HR centers of excellence, HR business partners located in the local facilities (Facility HR), and company employees.

Transparency is important to the HR Service Center and that helps attain buy-in from its customers.  For example, the HRSC provides the HR business partners from each of their service areas a monthly report documenting their SLA metrics performance.  In addition, the leader of the HRSS contact center and data processing has weekly and monthly service quality meetings with the HR business partners which provides an open communication channel where they can talk openly about issues their customers may be experiencing.  This gives the HRSC the ability to change course or do deeper dives into processes that may not be working as designed.

During the past year, the HRSC has included HR business partners and their teams as an important part of process workflow improvement efforts.  The HR Service Center initiated eight different work teams to address process design and alignment issues between local HR and the HRSC.  Each team included representation from Facility HR, the HR Service Center and HR Technology.

The HRSC also established monthly meetings with the HR business partners to review data quality outcomes.  In addition to their SLA metrics package, they also measure what they call “upstream” errors.  These errors consist of inaccurate data elements being submitted to the HR Service Center by its customers.  This information is reported back to Facility HR so they can address and fix their data quality issues prior to submission to the HRSC, which improves the overall data integrity of their ERP system.

Customer satisfaction surveys are another way the HRSC stays in touch with its customers.  These help them to quickly identify where they can make improvements with their service delivery.  In conjunction with this, they built into their process a reflective activity survey.  This is a monthly activity where they send a survey to their HR Service Center Tier 1 & Tier 2 teams and ask them to take a reflective pause and look back over the past month and rate themselves on how well they think they performed on delivering services to their customers.  Leadership then connects the teams back to their mission and core values during this activity and makes them think about their own behaviors and how they align with their core values.

iPollingTM Results Review

A recent poll created using Peeriosity’s iPollingTM technology sheds some light on how major companies approach providing and receiving feedback from the customers of their Shared Services operations.  The results of the first question are interesting, with 42% indicating that they utilize a formal approach, with periodic meetings and detailed performance reporting.  For 35% of the surveyed companies, a semi-structured approach is utilized with performance reporting happening on a regular basis, but no formal meetings being held.  For 12% of the companies, a very informal approach is taken, with limited use of structured meetings or performance reporting.

iPolling: best description of shared services operations general approach | Tactics to Reach Out to Shared Services Customers

The second poll question looked at the typical frequency Shared Services was receiving and providing feedback to its customers.  The most popular time period was monthly, with 31% of the companies responding that way.  This was closely followed by quarterly (23%) and semi-annually (23%).  It is important to keep in mind, that while defining the right frequency for a company is important, the consistency and quality of the communication is key to determining its overall effectiveness.

iPolling: typical frequency of receiving and providing feedback to the entities

Some of the Peeriosity member comments related to this poll include the following:

Transportation & Storage Member: We provide a formal, annual survey to key users of the Shared Service Centre.

Manufacturing Member: We have periodic meetings with the business departments to discuss a disputed issues and tracking reports.

Computers & Electronics Member: We are indeed in the process of structuring a semi-annual performance conversation.

Manufacturing Member: We have periodic meetings with our customers to solicit feedback and collaborate on issues, and we also do an annual customer feedback survey.

Closing Summary

There are a variety of approaches utilized by HR Shared Services operations that can provide an effective foundation for a healthy relationship with its customers.  Whether a formal structure is put in place to manage these relationships or something less formal is established, the critical success factor will be to create a structure that meets the needs of the customer without becoming a burden to them.   

How effectively does your HR Shared Services operation reach out to its key customers?  Is it time to take another look at how this is accomplished?

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


“PeercastsTM” are private, professionally facilitated webcasts that feature leading member company experiences on specific topics as a catalyst for broader discussion.  Access is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from attending or accessing discussion content.  Members can see who is registered to attend in advance, with discussion recordings, supporting polls, and presentation materials online and available whenever convenient for the member.  Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, attendees can easily communicate at any time with other attending peers by selecting them from the list of registered attendees. 

“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 email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPollingTM.

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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