Shared Services Teams Need to Focus on Customer Service Too

April 15, 2021

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Companies deploy shared services teams to centralize and consolidate operations of multiple units. These teams can help sales, marketing, finance, legal, and other groups and each department is their customer. There are also shared services groups that are available to service many with few people, such as global marketing supporting field marketing or sales engineering with global sales. Most times this is done via e-mail with several people on :CC, spreadsheets, or not at all. Shared services acts as a centralized back-office operations and support unit for various teams and departments within an organization.

Since the shared services teams resolve issues from team members and employees, one might wonder if these teams really need to focus on customer service. The answer is yes because the performance of this team has a direct impact on the overall business functioning. Thus, providing a superior customer experience can yield long-term benefits such as reduced costs, process simplification, sales revenue and so on.

Sounds interesting? But getting there can be difficult because the interaction takes place between employees working for the same organization. Therefore, we decided to discuss tools and techniques that can make it easier for shared services teams to deliver a superior customer experience by identifying and resolving customer concerns in the best possible manner.

Shared Services Team Responsibilities
Shared Services Duties

Identify Capabilities and Assign Tasks Accordingly

Most businesses find it difficult to manage requests because identifying capabilities and assigning requests to those with the right skillset can be challenging. As the shared services teams provide support to multiple departments, it consists of individuals with diverse professional skills. Thus, making it difficult to identify who can handle what and assign requests accordingly.

If done manually, this requires a 3-step process — receiving the request, finding an available resource with the right skill set, and assigning it. As a result, there is a delay and that can be avoided by implementing a service management system that automatically identifies those with relevant skills and assigns tasks based on their availability. This is now possible through innovative technologies such as StartingPoint which lets you automate request assignments based on certain conditions, which leaves you with ample time to focus on other aspects.

Prioritize Requests

One of the key similarities between shared services and customer support teams is the disproportionate allocation of resources to manage requests. This can be overwhelming because shared services teams receive requests from all quarters of an organization. Depending on the size of the organization, this can be hectic and therefore a priority level must be set for every incoming request. There are two ways of doing this — allowing the customer to set the priority level or categorize requests and prioritize them based on internal protocols.

In the first approach, you simply let the requestor assign a priority level while placing a service request. However, this can bring in a flood of high-priority requests because everyone wants to be prioritized. A more practical way of doing this would be by creating categories and assigning priority-level to each category based on the organization’s business goals. You can then route requests accordingly and deliver better support.

Useful Tips:

·       Create categories based on team-specific functions.

·       Determine urgency based on the type of requests.

·       Re-route unattended requests from high-priority categories.

Auto Reassign

The best way to efficiently manage customer requests is by reassigning high priority tickets based on certain pre-determined conditions. Let us assume that the SLA to respond to the marketing team’s request is 48 hours. Since the marketing team is a revenue-generating team, requests coming in from this team must be prioritized.

The shared services team can ensure this by automatically reassigning requests from the marketing teams if they remain unopened for 24 hours after the initial assignment. Doing this on an excel sheet or trying to manage via e-mail can be intimidating and may result in serious delays. Therefore, businesses need to deploy the right tools that allow categorization of requests and automatic reassignment based on certain predefined conditions.

Shared Services serving People
Service Many With Limited Resources

Respond to Common Queries

Like any other customer service center, even the shared services teams receive many common queries that can be addressed through automated responses via Chatbots and FAQs section. Studies indicate that automated responses can cut down the average cost per query by up to 15 times. Also, it helps reduce the average response time significantly and boosts productivity.

However, finding common queries can be difficult for shared services teams because of the diverse customer concerns raised by individuals from various departments or locations of stored data, collateral, and information. Even then, businesses can do this effortlessly by making use of the right tools. You can then develop retrievable resources that other teams and departments can use to help themselves.

Performance Evaluation

Evaluating and monitoring performance can have a huge impact on how things work in any team. At a team-level, it provides useful insights that let businesses plan and implement measures to reduce distractions and improve employee focus. For years, mid-level managers have been doing this based on KPIs and creating spreadsheets to reflect employee performance.

On average, managers spend 210 hours or slightly over 26 days every year evaluating employee performance. The time taken to do this can be greatly minimized by deploying a single tool that automatically evaluates employee performance based on pre-defined metrics such as the number of requests handled, average response time, feedback, etc… Although this does not eliminate the need for a personal review by the mid-level management, it definitely reduces the amount of effort that goes into it.

Shared Services Roles

Measure Customer Satisfaction

To ensure seamless operations, businesses need to evaluate whether their shared services teams are delivering the kind of support required. Businesses can assess this based on the inputs received from other teams and departments, so surveys are essential. There are many ways to survey and measure customer satisfaction such as point-of-sales surveys, surveying focus groups, etc… Since the “customers” of a shared services provider are employees and personnel, the best way to achieve this is through periodic comprehensive surveys. As your customers are easily accessible, it only makes sense to periodically measure customer satisfaction across multiple service areas and dimensions.

Digital Transformation

Do your shared service teams have access to the right tools to manage requests, automate workflow, evaluate performance and deliver a superior customer experience? If not, then it is time to invest in technologies and upgrade your IT infrastructure. You can do this on your own by contacting StartingPoint or by partnering up with an advisory firm that specializes in digital transformation and strategy development. Doing this right is half the battle won because technologies have transformed the way in which businesses operate.

Final Takeaway

As you may have realized, the shared services team is the cog to the wheel in many areas as it provides what can be termed as ‘internal support’. Thus, this unit needs to be more customer-focused than any other team in your organization to ensure seamless business operations.