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Self-service for shared service centres

May 5 · 2 min read

I spent some (great) years in an organisation that served HR professionals. Shared service centres of large organisations were important customers. They demanded self-service tools so employees could book their own holidays, change their payroll details, submit expenses, that sort of thing.

I worry that ‘self-service’ sounds like something negative – probably because we have suffered from self-service checkouts in retail outlets where it feels like a way for the retailer to save money and have us do a task that is better done by the retail staff. The last point is critical: the person best equipped to process your shopping basket at the checkout is a shop assistant.

 

Self-service for shared service centres offers something more empowering. If I want to change my bank details for my salary or book a holiday, I know what I want to do. And, I’d like it done now. Self-service offers me on-demand, customised, confidential support. If I work in a sales team and I’ve worked hard to get a prospect to the stage of being ready to sign a deal, I’d rather not hand the task to the legal team and wait for my turn in the queue, especially if they don’t look after my hard-won customer. 

If I just made a job offer for a vacancy I need to fill now, and I’ve found the best person for the role, I want to get the paperwork done now, and I want the candidate to feel they are joining a high-performing team. I might be embarrassed if I wait for the HR team to send out forms to collect information the applicant already provided in their resume.

I like self-service, but it has to be done right. Recently, I was involved in a residential property sale in the UK. The law firm offered a computerised system that promised to keep things moving and keep me up to date. The first batch of documents from that system included a pile of forms to be completed. Most of the forms contained the same set of fields: my name, my email address, the law firm’s reference number, the address of the property, and similar details of the transaction. They already had those details, and yet I had to enter them multiple times in different forms. Moreover, they sent PDFs which I could not edit – so most people would complete have to print them and fill them in manuscript. Doubtless, when the forms arrive back at the law firm, a secretary or paralegal would re-key the data (perhaps with errors). 

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WHY

They already had all that data: they emailed their forms to me! Why didn’t they use document automation to pre-populate the forms? Better still, why didn’t they pre-populate a questionnaire and leave me to provide missing information, and have the software generate all their forms? As far I can see, their computer system does nothing more than automate the dispatch of the same analogue documents that they were probably using years ago. 

Self-service done right looks like this:

  • Collect data from the person (or system) best equipped to provide it – and use a medium that is designed for the task
  • Build a system that flows the data to wherever it is needed (keeping it as structured data in digital form)
  • Add intelligence to compute extra data, validate the data, predict what the user might want
  • Don’t add unnecessary analogue steps to a digital system: for example, don’t add human approval steps if the system is capable of calculating whether requisite criteria are satisfied – humans are not good at rubber-stamping computed results
  • Provide feedback: tell the user what has been achieved and what comes next
  • Monitor the manual interventions to learn where the system is failing to meet user needs (telephone calls and emails to helpdesks, escalations to managers, submissions from channels other than self-service)

This manner of intelligent automation is easier if one solution can handle all the component features. In case you’re wondering, Legito can do that.

Self-service for shared service centres

May 5 · 2 min read

I spent some (great) years in an organisation that served HR professionals. Shared service centres of large organisations were important customers. They demanded self-service tools so employees could book their own holidays, change their payroll details, submit expenses, that sort of thing.

I worry that ‘self-service’ sounds like something negative – probably because we have suffered from self-service checkouts in retail outlets where it feels like a way for the retailer to save money and have us do a task that is better done by the retail staff. The last point is critical: the person best equipped to process your shopping basket at the checkout is a shop assistant.

 

Self-service for shared service centres offers something more empowering. If I want to change my bank details for my salary or book a holiday, I know what I want to do. And, I’d like it done now. Self-service offers me on-demand, customised, confidential support. If I work in a sales team and I’ve worked hard to get a prospect to the stage of being ready to sign a deal, I’d rather not hand the task to the legal team and wait for my turn in the queue, especially if they don’t look after my hard-won customer. 

If I just made a job offer for a vacancy I need to fill now, and I’ve found the best person for the role, I want to get the paperwork done now, and I want the candidate to feel they are joining a high-performing team. I might be embarrassed if I wait for the HR team to send out forms to collect information the applicant already provided in their resume.

I like self-service, but it has to be done right. Recently, I was involved in a residential property sale in the UK. The law firm offered a computerised system that promised to keep things moving and keep me up to date. The first batch of documents from that system included a pile of forms to be completed. Most of the forms contained the same set of fields: my name, my email address, the law firm’s reference number, the address of the property, and similar details of the transaction. They already had those details, and yet I had to enter them multiple times in different forms. Moreover, they sent PDFs which I could not edit – so most people would complete have to print them and fill them in manuscript. Doubtless, when the forms arrive back at the law firm, a secretary or paralegal would re-key the data (perhaps with errors). 

WHY

u

They already had all that data: they emailed their forms to me! Why didn’t they use document automation to pre-populate the forms? Better still, why didn’t they pre-populate a questionnaire and leave me to provide missing information, and have the software generate all their forms?

As far I can see, their computer system does nothing more than automate the dispatch of the same analogue documents that they were probably using years ago. 

Self-service done right looks like this:

  • Collect data from the person (or system) best equipped to provide it – and use a medium that is designed for the task

  • Build a system that flows the data to wherever it is needed (keeping it as structured data in digital form)

  • Add intelligence to compute extra data, validate the data, predict what the user might want

  • Don’t add unnecessary analogue steps to a digital system: for example, don’t add human approval steps if the system is capable of calculating whether requisite criteria are satisfied – humans are not good at rubber-stamping computed results

  • Provide feedback: tell the user what has been achieved and what comes next

  • Monitor the manual interventions to learn where the system is failing to meet user needs (telephone calls and emails to helpdesks, escalations to managers, submissions from channels other than self-service)

This manner of intelligent automation is easier if one solution can handle all the component features.

In case you’re wondering, Legito can do that.

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