HR Technology in Layman's Terms—Pillar #5: Case Management

Peter Alkema

We are busy discussing each pillar of the HR Technology service delivery model to understand how a shared services environment can deliver better customer service with greater efficiencies by leveraging its investment in technology.

Pillar #1: Portal – see this article

Pillar #2: Knowledge Base – see this article

Pillar #3: Acquisition – see this article

Pillar #4: Self Service

Pillar #5: Case Management

Pillar #5: Case Management

Central to any processing environment is the ability to track a task throughout its lifecycle with the aim of completing the task more efficiently. Typically a query will originate from a customer and result in one or more processes to resolve it. This will involve hand-offs and exchanges of information and documents with various different functions or teams being involved. The query must be managed from a customer perspective within an agreed turnaround time with consequences for non-delivery; otherwise it is highly likely to get lost in the frenzy of activity that usually characterizes a shared services operation. Everyone has had the experience of losing a query into a "Black hole" of a support organization only to follow up weeks later and be passed from pillar to post with no hope of resolution.

Technology can play a key role in helping to avoid this by managing the flow of queries throughout their lifecycle and exposing bottlenecks in processing activities. We refer to any package of work entering an HR Shared Service environment as a case that requires management from beginning to end, from query to resolution. There are a number of software products available to do this, many are off the shelf, others require significant customization and some can integrate directly into the payroll and related systems. Preference is usually for a customer to log their query on a web page under a category and with a description which returns a reference number and can easily send a confirmation SMS to their cell phone.

Based on the query type and / or the employee details, the case is then allocated to a consultant and placed in their work list. A Service Level Agreement should be in place which requires resolution within a certain time frame and the clock starts ticking once the consultant receives the case. Any hand-offs can easily be managed with workflow rules that are either pre-built based on the query type or available to the consultant for them to pass the query on to the relevant team for processing. Avoid building complicated workflow rules as this will hamper resolution and confuse any metrics used to report the progress of the query.

Depending on the model of the shared services, the consultant may retain accountability for the original query regardless of how it is resolved, or the relationship could get passed on with the workflow activity. Best practice usually requires single point of entry and the consultant allocated the query remains accountable to follow it up and close it within the SLA period – regardless of what has to be processed internally to resolve it. Shared services with high efficiency models and a strong customer service mindset will typically display real-time stats about the volumes and progress of queries on screens prominently located in their location. This may also include the names of consultants who are either causing bottlenecks or performing well to turn queries around quickly.

A customer feedback survey should also be built into, or integrated with the same system because you should trigger a request for feedback every time a query is closed. This provides additional metrics for rewarding top performers who look after their customers as well as giving up to the minute data about how customers perceive overall service from the operation. Case management processes can be expanded to include payroll input and even system changes required by an IT department as a result of customer requested enhancements or fixes. As with any implementation, training and awareness is critical to ensure the customer facing consultants are empowered and confident to use the system in achieving higher customer satisfaction with data and facts based management.