article12.09.20225 minutes

Labour Shortages: What About Self-Serve Platforms? 

  • Strategy

It’s no secret that labour shortages are one of the main obstacles for Canadian and American companies in the last few years. The government anticipates that by 2030, there will be 1.4 million positions to fill in the province. Labour shortages transform the reality for companies and impacts both employees and employers, for example considerable workload, constant sense of urgency, difficulty reaching goals, etc.   Yet labour shortages allow us to question ourselves about digital transformation in companies. Indeed, technology offers very efficient solutions to meet staffing needs: self-serve platforms.  

What Are Self-Serve Platforms?

Whether it be for consumers, company clients or employees, there are always operations that can be suitable for digital self-serving processes.

Here are a few examples in different fields:

  • Business-to-consumer: chatbot, client space, account opening, claim requests.
  • Business-to-business: client portal, account management, order follow-up, product configurator, workflow approbations.
  • Business-to-employee: self-training, schedule planning, sales tools, customer service tools.

Of course, the list is long, and each need has a customized solution!

How to Know if a Self-Serve Platform Is Relevant?

Even though each situation is unique, there are usually signs that can tell if it is time to embark on the creation of a self-serve platform. The secret is to listen to each stakeholder’s needs:

  • Poorly distributed time at work: If your employees spend most of their time doing repetitive tasks, there is probably a way to automate these operations. By translating the needs to be met in digital solutions, employees can drastically reduce their time spent on low added-value tasks.
  • Multiplication of tools and systems: If you notice multiple teams are working on the same subject by using different systems, it might be time to centralize information to optimize processes and distribution. Both the teams and the company will benefit from this.
  • User complaints: Spotting the most frequent user demands helps to better understand their needs and expectations. Are they wondering how to update their folder? Are they looking for the place to follow their order? If so, it might be time to create a client portal.

To better understand how to implement self-serve platforms in your company, let’s answer the main questions about the development of these tools.

Can we automatize complex operations?

Business rules can absolutely be translated into applied digital solutions.

Of course, we need to plan a thorough discovery and research phase to be able to untangle complexity. After that, we can develop a system architecture and a user experience and interface that meets every need.

For Hadrian’s bathroom configurator project, for example, we needed to simultaneously consider legislative requirements and construction imperatives to finalize the digital solution. By conducting interviews with the different stakeholders and putting all cases possible into a diagram, our teams were able to map out the user experience and suggest a solution that was both intuitive for users and efficient for the client.

How can self-serve platforms complete employees’ work?

Like client portals, self-serve platforms allow collaborators in a company to free time up by eliminating repetitive low added-value tasks from their day and focus their efforts on high added-value tasks.

Many teams benefit from self-serve platforms:

  • Sales teams can focus on reinforcing business relations.
  • Customer service can improve client experience.
  • Finance teams can analyze data extracted from self-serve platforms.
  • Marketing and communication teams can use self-serve platforms as an additional communication channel.

Implanting self-serve platforms is beneficial for the whole company.

To illustrate, let’s consider the compensation form created for Air Canada: it might be essential for passengers and flight attendants at boarding gates, but it is also very useful for Air Canada staff.

By sending requests straight to their CRM, customer service members can directly access all the necessary information to process each case.

By grouping all data in a single tool, finance teams can create detailed reports that will inform their future work.

Do users like to use self-serve platforms?

When introducing self-serve platforms, one of the main concerns for companies is to negatively impact user experience.

«We can now see self-serve experiences in every activity sector.»

David Alexandre Hamel, VP Strategy, CX & design

But reality is entirely different: in a society composed of autonomous consumers who already use self-serve platforms in their daily activities, there are high expectations for these kinds of services in every point of contact.

More independence, autonomy, accessibility, time… These are some of the many advantages provided by self-serve platforms.

Several companies have adopted approaches exclusively based on self-serve experiences for a few years now. In fact, in 2017, the authors of the article Kick-Ass Customer Service Consumers want results—not sympathy, published in the Harvard Business Review already indicated that 81% of clients look to solve their problems themselves before contacting a representative.

So how do you know if your company is ready to develop a self-serve platform?

To create a self-serve platform that will become efficient and useful for everyone, you need a combination of three main factors.

  • Repetitive tasks: If your teams spend a lot of time repeating the same actions, there is an opportunity for automatization.
  • Volume of requests: The repetitive tasks involve an important volume of information processing.
  • Business logic: You need to have processes and business logic to create digital solutions for each possible case.