SELF-SERVICE PORTAL - TRANSFORMATION FROM A TRADITIONAL TO A DIGITAL SERVICE ORIENTED COMPANY
Updated: Nov 26, 2018
This is my journey of the transformation of my company from a traditional customer service organization to an online self-service customer service portal.
* From paper-based to paperless environment
Does Self-Service Portal Help Organizations To Improve – Sharing Our Story
I have been working for GS1 Saudi Arabia for nine years as Solution Architect Manager offering customers our consultancy to improve their supply chain processes. GS1 is a member based organization, companies register for services and pay a fee annually to continue getting the service. The membership count go in hundreds to thousands companies.
GS1 is a global not for profit organization, develops supply chain management standards with the offices in 110+ countries. GS1 Saudi Arabia promotes and creates awareness among industries and professionals for the use of GS1 global standards to enable trace-ability in their supply chain and synchronize the data communication among trading partners.
1. We had been facing a lot of difficulties in our daily operations as follows;
2. The manual handling of all information, keeping the accurate members’ record has been a cumbersome task for our staff always.
3. A lot of non-productive activities and smaller tasks occupied most of our staff time like data entry, keeping papers and files, calling customers for follow-up.
4. Keeping important data in separate files for members’ information, their products and other services which started to create a huge pile of scattered data bunches, may lead us to information burst out-of-control.
5. Shortage of staff as compared to the workload, which has been there always.
6. Difficult to manage time to plan and market our consulting and technical services due to uneven workload.
I realized that these manual operations kill a lot of time and delay our other plans in expanding our products and services’ portfolio. The collection of multiple small data bunches may lead us to a disaster. Hence, we decided to move to a full self-
service portal to serve our customers.
The concept of Self-service is driven by the idea of reducing workload for an organization from administrative work and let the customers share it with their part of the process. It allows to operate an office 24x7 virtually. This make processes faster and easier. This is becoming common now in many parts of the world to develop and publish an application online to serve the need of customers.
We started this project in 2016 being an integral part of our organization’s transformation model. The major objective is to offer most of our services online with 24x7 open office concept.
Features of Self Service Portal
Reduce non-productive tasks
Improve turnaround application processing time for customer registration
Reduce customer visits to our offices
Convert our time to consulting and projects
Improve customer service
Improved Employee Productivity
Our aim is to improve employee productivity by considerably reducing the amount of time for an employee to deal with a customer sitting in office and others waiting in queue. A single customer registration took almost 30 minutes to finish from data entry in our back-office system to issuance its membership certificate, while other customers kept waiting in queue.
Improve Processing Time For Customer Registration
All customers make the registration application online from our website and our staff job is to review these applications, verify the information and the required documents attached and make a decision to accept/reject the application. This auto processing help us to improve overall processing time drastically for a customer registration from 30 minutes average per customer to 5 minutes.
An easy to access web portal available all times helping to keep our service active and register any time of the day.
Reduce Customer Visits
With the advent of this self-service portal system, it is helping us to encourage customers to get all information from our website regarding our products and services and register online; hence, we are successful in reducing customers visit in person to our offices. This strategy saves their precious time and equally ours.
The system is more flexible and automated for many tasks. A good control on different processing levels is necessary to minimize the error and logging the different actions performed by different parties/people involved in completing a process. Each major activity is logged at back-end in the system with the user login information and timestamp, which help us to view the activities performed or any errors generating in the system.
Every action performed through our portal system is recorded in an audit log database.
There are multiple payment options available to cater different kind of customers;
The best way to pay for customer is to use Credit card option to let them pay immediately online and get all the services upon successful registration and payment process. We discourage the payment in Cash to avoid customer unnecessary visit to our office and but we keep the Cash option still intact. For some rare cases when there may be issues with other options.
We are adding SADAD service soon also. This online service helps companies to make debit transfers online using special SADAD account. Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) established this service to promote using banking channels for financial transactions.
Automatic Notifications Using SMS & Emails
Many processes are automated to generate notifications and reminders at a set interval. System also generates email and SMS to the customer and system administrators.
Return on Investment
It enables us to keep our membership open for 24 x 7.
A simple easy interface helps users to input all necessary information accurately.
It helps us to collect the company information and their products information accurately directly from the correct source i.e. manufacturer or distribution agent.
We plan this self-service portal keeping in mind to increase our membership by offering our services to different industry sectors.
With the successful launch and operation of this system which enables us now to focus on a development of quality marketing campaign to target different industry sectors and let them register online totally.
We will develop different envelop solutions keeping this portal as a center of our future products and services.
It helps us to reduce our operational cost per customer and divert it into other productive activities.
Reduced help desk workload and in-turn reduced costs for work force.
We have seen an increase number of online registration after normal office hours i.e. after 5 pm, which was none before establishing this system.
It is helping us to achieve our expected ROI in both short term and long term.
Mr. Naeem Ahmed
PMP, CSCM, ITIL
Co - Founder
VCARE Inc., Value Chain Application, Research & Education