Historically, Websites can be best defined as a content publishing channel. Even today, the large majority of internal and external Websites are static content used for pushing information to their users. However, while self-service is a small percentage of the overall Web properties, it provides the highest value to the users by providing a personalized experience which can not only be tailored to the users organizational role, but also allows the user to directly access, modify and manage key elements of their business relationship without the need for interacting with anyone else from the organization. Depending on the purpose of the self-service Website, it can help organizations increase their revenue while reducing costs.
Figure 1. Common Use Cases for Self-Service.
The use cases in Figure 1 are broken into 3 top-level categories: External, Partner, and Employee, since the scope of most self-service Websites will target one of these audiences per deployment. The key with any successful self-service Website is to meet the specific needs of the target audience by providing the most relevant and valuable capabilities. The broader the audience, the more difficult it is to deliver a compelling experience. Self-service is the epitome of targeting and personalization, which makes definition of the audience critical to the usefulness and overall success of the site.
Figure 2. Key Business Drivers for Self-Service Portals.
Self-service Websites for external audiences such as customers or citizens, typically empower the user by granting access and/or updating information they previously would have needed to contact someone else in the organization directly for. Growing revenue and reducing processing costs are often attributes of the business case for these scenarios.
Self-service Websites are a powerful way for an organization to cross-sell other products and/or services to an existing customer. In a customer self-service scenario such as a customer support portal or a My Utilities site, not only can customers access their accounts, update their addresses, pay bills and monitor their daily/hourly usage, but also marketing teams can deliver highly targeted campaigns based on account information of the users’ currently owned product/services. For instance, a customer that logs into a customer support portal seeking to find updates for their existing product could be interested in upgrading to the latest generation of that product – a carefully placed personalized ad could result in a significant revenue opportunity to grow profits from the existing customer base. Similarly, this model can help a Utilities company to promote rebates and other services that may benefit both the customer and the organization.
In addition to revenue growth, many external scenario's can also be justified by reduction and accuracy of processing times, decrease in call or walk-in traffic, and improvement of overall user satisfaction, which can result in significant cost savings for the organization.
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP)
LADWP is the largest public utility company in the United States with over 1.6 million residential and commercial customers in Southern California. Searching for opportunities to improve customer service and automate paper based processes, LADWP realized their existing legacy technologies provided very little agility and created a lot of challenges. During customer focus groups, they discovered their customers wanted a Web experience that delivered more direct access to the things they need most, such as billing and service requests. LADWP implemented a self-service portal using Oracle WebCenter Portal to surface various back-end systems such as Oracle Siebel CRM, Legacy Mainframe, and billing applications. Their customers now have access to MyAccount (billing and usage analysis), Financial Assistance Programs, Rebate Programs, service requests, outage reporting, eNotifications and much more. The site has received extremely positive feedback from their customers, has helped to drastically improve LADWP's customer experience ranking vs comparable utilities companies, and driven the usage of online billing.
Business partners are often seen as an extension of an organization, which means the self-service interfaces tend to be extremely rich for access to backend application data. In some cases, the interface may be identical to what an employee within the organization may have access to. It's also common for a partner to use the organization’s hosted site as a co-selling tool for their own customers and simply rebrand the site with their own logo. Partner-facing self-service can be a powerful way for an organization to extend the reach and capability of their organization by enabling partners to do business on their behalf. The key value for this scenario is business reach/growth, process efficiency, and process consistency. The types of self-service tools for partners can be a key differentiator in attracting and maintaining a partner network. Partner Portals enable companies to share information and collaborate between partners, brand owners, and joint customers. Its broad range of data, marketing materials, and selling tools facilitates the collaborative sales process, while its superior service and problem-resolution capabilities help partners deliver timely and consistent customer service.
Land O’Lakes, Inc.
Land O’Lakes is one of America’s premier member-owned cooperatives, offering local cooperatives and agricultural producers across the nation an extensive line of agricultural supplies, as well as state-of-the-art production and business services. Land O’Lakes is using Oracle WebCenter Portal to improve online experiences for partners to handle all aspects of account management and order entry through a consolidated, personalized, and secure user interface. By creating a self-service portal for placing orders for seed, Land O'Lakes ended up with a new engagement platform that drives more efficient processes, and has actually resulted in net new business.
Internal self-service sites offer employees access to their human resource details such as personal records and payroll information; allowing employees to change their own address, contact details, education records, job profile, vacation and sick leave, and many more. Some scenarios allow for employees to change payroll details such as their direct deposit information and provide access to current and historical payslips. These sites have also been known to be used for career planning, skills profiles, learning, objective settings, and annual appraisals. This can be a valuable asset to an organization to retain their talent, while also helping to improve employee satisfaction. Human resource departments see employee portals as a means of empowering employees and reducing process errors and cost. Organizations also view employee self-service as a means of eliminating manual processes and in turn reducing costs associated with support and physical paper processing.
Schneider National, Inc.
Schneider National is a premier provider of truckload, logistics and intermodal services. Serving more than two-thirds of the FORTUNE 500® companies and conducting business in more than 28 countries worldwide, Schneider National offers the broadest portfolio of services in the industry. The company’s transportation and logistics solutions include Van Truckload, Dedicated, Regional, Bulk, Intermodal, Transportation Management, Supply Chain Management, Warehousing and International Logistics services. Schneider National’s previous solution for their Drivers was very static, fairly expensive to maintain, and needed IT involvement to update most content. The business wanted a more dynamic and less IT-centric solution that would allow employees to modify their solutions quickly and easily, allow for significantly improved collaboration with the users, and an integrated solution across various types of content, applications, and collaboration services. Schneider National turned to Oracle WebCenter Portal for their employee self-service portal, allowing drivers to view employee information such as benefits, online training and pay statements, all in a single user interface – whether they are in the office or on the road.
Self-Service Websites have become an integral element of a Web user’s interaction with organizations they do business with. Oracle has proven to be a trusted partner for organizations that are looking to build new or replace existing self-service Websites. Oracle's approach to delivering a comprehensive and pre-integrated collection of enterprise products and tools reduces the overall risk and total cost of the self-service project. We invite you to learn how Oracle WebCenter customers are leveraging Oracle WebCenter Portal to use, build and manage self-service Websites and deliver intuitive digital experiences for their users.