How frustrating is it to have ﬁve diﬀerent questions and having to choose from ﬁve diﬀerent service desks? Yet this is the kind of service structure many organizations use today. More and more organizations are taking steps towards increased collaboration with other service departments. The Shared Service Management model explains the growth phases we have observed in the market, along with the results of said phases.
Phase 0: Separate service departments
Most organizations start where the two axes intersect: phase 0, nothing shared. In this phase, each of the organization’s departments has its own processes and procedures. They hardly work together and there is a strict division of tasks.
From phase 0 to phase 1: The ease of working in a single tool
A health care institution, where I provided intensive supervision for a year, started in phase 0. Nothing was shared, but they had a strong wish to collaborate more closely in TOPdesk. This organization’s supporting departments hardly knew each other, despite working in the same building. Each department had their own solution for registering customer questions.
During the kick-oﬀ for the project, which focused on bringing together the various departments in TOPdesk, it became clear that both the management and they wanted to work together in a single tool. Before the various departments started collaborating in TOPdesk, the departments often had to spend days waiting for each other. This was because everything was done via email, which was not checked every day.
Now the IT employees spend all day in TOPdesk and the technical services employees check for malfunctions every two hours. It has become easier to pass on tasks, and the communication lines have shortened because everyone involved is working in the same tool. Moreover, the money saved was an important motive for management. Now all calls are registered in TOPdesk, the amount of work actually done is much clearer.
In just a year’s time, the number of registered calls increased by 50 per cent compared to when they started working in a single tool. This showed and proved that there were capacity problems, and the capacity schedule was adjusted as a result. In addition, the customer service improved through better follow-ups and automatic updates via email. Registered tasks and the accompanying responses are now visible to all operators and process managers. Management can step in when necessary. When you want to grow from phase 0 (nothing shared) to phase 1 (shared tool), the main challenge is to get to know and trust one another. If there is no trust, you cannot collaborate.
It is advisable that the project members often meet to discuss and address the growing pains during this phase. Weekly meetings make sure everyone gets to know one another and enables them to explain to their colleagues what the group is working on. During the implementation, the project leaders act as key users for their department. Not only to answer questions about the tool, but to relay feedback to the key user meetings in order to implement further improvements. Once the project is complete, it is important to keep up the monthly key user meeting so that you can continue going through the desired changes together.
From Phase 1 to Phase 2: One service, one desk
In 2014, TOPdesk performed a customer satisfaction survey for a government body to grant insight into customers’ experiences. The survey was timed carefully: it took place during the run-up to the launch of a shared service desk. This was the benchmark. Several interesting conclusions could be drawn from the research.
One of the things measured was the customer eﬀort score: the eﬀort required of a customer to get an answer or solution. Most of the respondents indicated that some to a considerable amount of eﬀort was required to ﬁnd a solution. Setting up a clear products and services catalogue and a straightforward self-service desk made it possible to greatly improve the customer satisfaction. It was clear for customers in this new situation where they could take their problems and questions.
Oﬀering the customer a single point of contact is an important next step towards the shared service desk. Collaborating in one service management tool like TOPdesk also lets your organization’s supporting departments share a portal. After all, nothing annoys a customer more than not knowing where to go for a speciﬁc service. In the Shared Service Management model we see that taking the ﬁrst step (shared tool) can already result in considerable savings. However, we see that the step towards higher customer satisfaction is limited in this phase. In phase 2 (shared service desk), where we see that the various supporting departments are presented as one to the customer, the real step forwards in terms of customer satisfaction is made. Your service desk has representatives from all supporting departments.
One of the instruments a service management tool like TOPdesk provides for this is a Self Service Portal with a clear products and services catalogue. This is where your customers turn for all their questions, problems and wishes. Big buttons lead them to speciﬁc forms where they answer concrete questions about their wishes or problems. This gets rid of paper forms for good. At the back end, you use the shared service desk to make sure that the malfunction or request ends up at the right department. This saves your customer from the confusion of ﬁnding their way within the organization to ﬁnd the solution they need. This professionalization means the customer is helped more eﬀectively and in a more customer-friendly way, which in turn is an incentive for your customers to continue using the Self Service Portal instead of picking up the phone.
From Phase 2 to Phase 3: One tool, one face, one procedure
When you are in phase 2 (shared service desk), your customers no longer notice that their questions and malfunctions are processed by diﬀerent departments. However, this is still the case. Wherever people collaborate, procedures and cultures develop that can diﬀer between departments, or even between groups within departments. For instance, when the IT department picks up a call they may often send updates via email, while the HR department may only email the ﬁnal answer. This makes it diﬃcult to manage your customers’ expectations, despite this being a crucial factor in how they experience your services. Starting to use the same processes and procedures is quite the challenge. It requires concessions from all departments involved.
Suﬃcient support must be created within the organization to realize phase 3 (shared process). Almost every organization I have visited as a consultant wanted to improve their call or maintenance processes, as well as make them more uniform. To make services more predictable, and to monitor the same KPIs across several departments. Reports can only be truly compared when both the processes and procedures can easily be followed by all parties. In such situations, the process owners and managers and I take a critical look at the processes and work to create a widely supported process.
Both the key user input and the reports support the process managers in the further professionalization of the processes. Here it’s crucial not to spend too long at the drawing board, but to make a decision after thorough discussion and then try it out for a certain period — six months, for example. After this period, the process can be further adjusted if necessary, so that it better suits the desired service level.
Need more convincing regarding shared services as the way to go? See our top arguments for shared services.