What is Customer Excellence in Shared Services?

While shared services users are not customers in the traditional sense, their experience as customers outside of their professional role impacts their expectations. In a world where instantaneous service is increasingly the norm (think same-day delivery, chatbots and video on demand), frustration can quickly arise when other service providers fail to offer the same level of speed and ease of interaction. As a result, the criteria for customer excellence within the SSO space are shifting. 

Providing shared services customers with an experience that prioritises excellence can yield significant benefits for the business including higher employee satisfaction, greater engagement, productivity, retention and, subsequently, reduced costs. 

  1. Customer Service is becoming more important for SSO leaders: last year 25% of European respondents listed it as key; this year over a third did. (SSON)
  2. In the last two years, staff knowledge of the business unit objectives has increased in importance for internal SSO customers. (Deloitte)
  3. Reacting to business unit requests is the second most important factor for business unit customers, with timeliness of response following up close behind. (Deloitte)

Five key components for creating an exceptional SSO customer experience:


Being trustworthy and engendering trust comes from consistent satisfactory organisational behaviour. Integrity is the degree to which the organisation delivers on its promises that is consistently top of mind. Gathering and analysing data is a simple method of improving internal service features to ensure this. Measured metrics may include average response time, average handling time, and which hours of the day your team is busiest. Additionally, internal customer satisfaction surveys can help to identify and correct roadblocks that are impeding your organisation's success while motivating internal team members to focus on the employee's experience.


Customers have expectations about how their needs will be met, and these are increasingly being set by the best brands they have encountered. SSOs should establish internal service standards. These standards may arise by analysing existing data from past interactions, or by taking a more innovative approach. For example, by leveraging Design Thinking techniques, SSO leaders can develop an in-depth understanding of what makes their customers tick, co-create new services with users and, ultimately, improve their digital self-service offerings and meet their customer’s expectations.


Research by Deloitte reveals that SSO staff knowledge of the business unit objectives and requests has increased in importance in the last two years. Shared service providers should direct their focus on achieving an understanding of their customer’s circumstances to drive deep rapport. Their ability to identify and react to key objectives will help internal teams effectively solve problems in an efficient and organized way. For example, if SSO staff can recognize the issue’s importance or time-sensitivity, they can react appropriately and, where necessary, devise a short-term solution.


Providing personalised attention involves demonstrating an understanding of the internal customer’s specific circumstances and adapting the experience accordingly. Use of name, individualised attention, knowledge of preferences and past interactions with specific units of the business all add up to an experience that feels personal. The use of predictive analytics is one method of enabling SSO staff to better support internal customers and even spot emerging trends and prepare for unusual spikes in service demand.  

Time and Effort

Excellent customer experiences involve minimal effort and frictionless processes. SSO customers are time poor and increasingly looking for instant gratification. Removing unnecessary obstacles, impediments and bureaucracy enables them to achieve their objectives quickly and easily. There are, of course, clear cost advantages to saving time, especially when other pillars are not compromised. Establishing clear self-service touch points work to reduce the need for SSO customers to contact a help desk and receive assistance from human experts. Additionally, embracing chatbot technology can enable SSOs to offer an enhanced experience and greater value to its customers.

To learn more about how you can make these factors a reality in your organisation, download the latest SSOW exclusive content piece; Redefining Excellence: Putting the Customer First. Alternatively, take a look at the event agenda for the 20th edition of Shared Services and Outsourcing Week which features case studies, workshops and sessions exploring improvement of the customer experience.