How well do you market your shared service center?

People do something for one of two reasons:  They have to do it, or they want to do it.


There's an organization that locks the door to the area where their HR people sit.  They do this because they don't want employees to walk up to the HR generalists and ask them questions.  They want the employees to contact Shared Service Center instead.  And removing other forms of access is their strategy.


Use of a shared services center is either mandated by management, or it's the choice of the employees.  If it's the employees' choice, that's probably because they've been made aware of the service center, and believe they'll benefit by using it.


So, how do you get customers to want to use the service center?  By marketing the service center, that's how.


For many companies, this isn't a new idea; it's something they're already doing to increase the demand for their services.  For others, it's something that never quite made it into the shared services budget.


But just because marketing is a foreign topic for your shared service center doesn't mean it's foreign to your company.  Your company is already marketing to its external customers; the people and organizations who buy whatever product or service your company sells.  And chances are, if your company is large enough to justify having its own shared service organization, it got that big in part because its marketing has been successful.


So, what is it that marketing does for external customers, that shared services should be doing for internal customers?


  • They run campaigns to make the customers aware that their products and services exist.
  • They create value propositions that help customers understand why it makes good sense to buy they products and services that your company sells.
  • They develop a unique brand that will resonate with customers, causing them to think of your value, and trustworthiness.
  • They'll groom account managers who will establish, maintain and grow relationships with key customers, so those customers will buy more of your products and services.  And those same account managers will often work with the customer to determine what new products or services your company can develop, to provide more value to the customer.


According to Sourcing Change, a consultancy for Outsourcing and Shared Services, there are 3 key initiatives your share service organization can undertake from a marketing perspective:


  1. Build a brand  (use references from above for this, and the other two below)
  2. Targeting - employee groups, timing, etc.
  3. Account management


Build a Brand

Your “brand” is what your customer thinks of - both factually and emotionally - when he or she hears your name.  As you might expect, great brands aren't created overnight; they take time to take root in the minds of the consumer.  You should begin by deciding what it is that you want your shared service center to be known for, or what phrases you want customers to use when they describe you:  "They get things done well, and on time."  "They always know the right answer."  "I can always count on them."  Create a name and a tag line.  Every good brand has one.


Target your Audiences

Tailor your messaging to different customer segments.  For example, new hires often need answers to a lot of relatively simple questions - make an appearance at the new employee orientations, and let them know you're the source of answers they're looking for.


Target managers in high-growth business units with your fast onboarding services.


Targeting is also about timing.  For example, open enrollment periods happen at the same time every year, and during these times, HR services are in high demand.  Leverage these specific times to introduce shared services  to a wider segment of customers.


Practice Customer Relationship Management

Great companies proactively manage their relationships with customers. They make a point of understanding their customer's business to refine their offerings.  The seek advice from the customers about new services that will be useful to the customer's business..  And by doing these things, they're able to deliver more value to the customer, and build more trust.  And isn't that what every customer wants?


Market your shared service organization as though you were marketing your services to external customers.  Build a brand, practice targeted messaging, actively build relationships with your customers.  People do things because they have to, or they want to.  Market well, and your customers will come to you because they want to.