Online shared services

The move to online has transformed the way we do business. Both public and private sectors offer a plethora of online services and, by almost any measure, internet success has exceeded expectations. Having an internet presence has become fundamental to commercial success; yet many organisations invest heavily and fail to meet targets or satisfy customer needs. Providers often overlook the potential to include additional valuable services as part of the e-delivery package.              

Convenience and control
This is a missed opportunity. Suppliers that offer shared services meet a universal customer wish - to have a single sign-on to access multiple services. In this way, customers enjoy greater choice, convenience and control, and the online experience is enriched. And a satisfied customer is a loyal customer. A growing number of companies realise this and the shared service model is transforming e-delivery throughout the private sector. So what are the attractions?
    
Organisations often launch new online services on the assumption that consumers will find their websites quickly and easily.  Huge sums are then spent advertising them with only limited success. In practice, online consumers have short attention spans, and searching presents a host of distractions.              
And it’s worse than that. The 24x7 internet culture has bred a new type of customer: one that is more demanding, more fickle and more likely to defect if a service fails to meet expectations. However, there’s good news too: recent research suggests that once satisfied, online consumers tend to remain loyal. Organisations must work harder to satisfy online customer needs.

Customer centric
An obvious starting point is to put the service where the customer wants it. Many companies realise that online consumers are the same as any others; ideally they want all associated services provided under one roof. Online billing serves as a good illustration of a customer-centric shared service that also benefits the supplier. The shared service model for e-billing now being offered by the UK banks and supplied by OneVu has been deployed by several utilities companies and local authorities, though the shared service principles are equally applicable to any e-delivery strategy.
    
When a supplier offers online billing, an electronic bill is raised and presented through the customer’s online bank account. The customer is then in control and can view, pay and manage bills online, and even request more detail in real time. So, the bill arrives in an obvious location, making viewing and payment safe, convenient and transparent.

In effect, the online bank account becomes the e-delivery channel. The supplier benefits from improved visibility, lower infrastructure costs and a reduced likelihood of late payment and bad debt. They can also relax in the knowledge that the online bank has authenticated the payer. And the payer can effect payment securely and directly from the online bank account without needing to remember any more passwords. This increases security and makes the life of the consumer easier.  
    
Secure single sign-on
There are several good reasons to incorporate bank shared service technology into an e-delivery strategy. At a fundamental level, online security is key and organisations can benefit from the vast experience of banks in user identity verification. In recent years the introduction of stringent legislation to tackle money laundering has led to banks investing heavily in this area and online banking security is among the best available.  Users benefit from this in itself, but also enjoy a single sign-on to access multiple services.  
    
Banks benefit too. Research confirms that online banking customers who pay bills online tend to self-serve more, put less pressure on customer services, and be more profitable for service providers. And, they tend to pay on time. So, how can organisations tap into this quality market?
    
Potential
Local authorities, utilities companies, credit card firms – in fact any service provider can offer online billing. But the potential is far greater. The same technology can be used to give access to other personal information or to present claim forms, tax returns and documents that customers might otherwise need a password to access online. The number of potential applications in the public sector is huge. Over half of the UK population now banks online and the number is growing constantly. Many of these individuals view their bank accounts as the hub of their online lives, and they enjoy the simplicity and convenience of paying bills directly from them.
    
The benefits of the shared service model make proliferation inevitable, and bank-centric billing is set to increase this year. UK consumers will be able to initiate immediate payments from bank accounts for all payment types up to £10,000.  
    
Shared service technology solves many of the problems associated with implementing an e-delivery strategy: it builds on proven technology, is low risk and implementation is straightforward.  In essence it offers strategic benefits for tactical costs and timescales.

Wealth of experience
VocaLink has a wealth of consulting experience in the field of bank shared services technology and its deployment in the public sector. VocaLink’s research supports the case for the deployment of a shared service model as a way of improving customer satisfaction. Organisations that deploy shared services offer customers a service that meets their needs and suits their lifestyle.
    
VocaLink is the provider of payment services to banks and public and private sector organisations. Responsible for the technology behind the UK's automated payments. VocaLink processes more than 90 per cent of UK salaries, over 70 per cent of household bills and the majority of state benefits. OneVu is a joint venture company between VocaLink and CheckFree Corps and provides online billing through online banks.

For more information
To explore the potential for shared services in your organisation, call Peter Seymour: 0870 920 8646 or email peter.seymour@vocalink.com .

To learn more about the online billing service provided by OneVu go to www.onevu.com  

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