In the past, the primary objective of technology adoption was simply to save costs and increase efficiencies. Today, we’re in the age of consumerization of IT. Social media, mobile, wearable devices, cloud have all exponentially increased customer touch points and the experiences they demand. This is leading to a fundamental change in the way enterprises are looking at business operations and leverage of technology.

Shared Service Centers are also evolving in line with this change with an increasing focus on customer centricity, rather than merely cutting transaction-processing costs.

Evolution of SSCs

Traditionally, organizations established Shared Services Centers (SSCs) with the aim of driving centralization, operational efficiencies and cost reduction through economies of scale. Today, we are moving to the age of the connected shared services model where the focus is on Customer Centricity and Business Transformation.

The traditional SSC focused on processes such as centralization, vendor payments, collections as well as dispute and deduction management. Today’s connected SSCs are all about decentralization, enforcing guidelines and SOPs and notification and resolution process pricing.

In short, shared services have moved from Back Office to Front Office with value adding, customer facing processes. Today, Shared Services have come to encompass the front office activities as an extension of SSC itself.

As organizations evolve in terms of service delivery strategy and structure, they are focusing more on serving the customer and providing an optimal user experience. A Forrester survey shows that 60% of business leaders surveyed by them are today prioritizing SSCs as an optimal solution to promote revenue growth and improve customer experience.

“In short, shared services have moved from Back Office to Front Office with value adding, customer facing processes”

However, most organizations have not yet fully embraced this delivery model. To maximize returns on their SSC investments, organizations need to revisit their shared services strategy. The objective should be to utilize SSCs to the greatest advantage for the customer.

How a Customer Centric SSC benefits the organization

Traditionally, SSCs promote better customer engagement through standardization of processes, compliance to global regulations as well as change and transition management.  They also enable real time monitoring and tracking and unify disparate solutions and technologies.

Building a customer –centric SSC can fetch a number of additional benefits.  For instance, seamless flow of information between departments ensures complete visibility by using real time dashboards for managing the SSC operations. By providing 360 degree business activity monitoring, this approach is geared for KPI and SLA management and to encourage you to keep constant track of process management.

Enabling collaboration across functions, vendors and customers, social media integration can help recognize the customer’s problem immediately and address it right there by generating automated alerts, thereby helping you proactively manage issues. With mobility being a crucial requirement today, information can be captured on the run from any mobile device.

This approach enables your organization to have a holistic and integrated view of the customer by aligning key customer experience metrics with core operations metrics. This allows you to pinpoint where the detachment or disengagement actually occurs.  You can engage with your customers and maintain knowledge repositories for future reference.

Additionally, process automation through a BPM platform can integrate front end and back office processes and applications. Leveraging the BPM platform can ensure the highest level of service at all times.

A well-designed SSC can transform “overhead” efforts to profitable business endeavors. There are comprehensive suites of solution accelerators catering to the broad range of SSC requirementsacross functions such as Finance and Accounting, Human Resources, Supply Chain, Purchasing, Vendor Portal, Supplier Portal and Contract Management. Built on top of robust ECM and BPM platforms, these solutions enhance the service delivery capabilities of SSCs by ensuring higher Straight Through Processing (STP), greater First Time Right (FTR) percentage and reduced Turnaround Time (TAT).

Shared Service Centers (SSCs) have the potential to create a transformational impact across key operational areas through higher automation, better control and enhanced business agility.  By looking at shared services more from a business perspective than an IT perspective, organizations have an opportunity to become morecustomer-centric. They can transform their SSCs from mere transactional hubs intobusiness value creation centers.