The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology

Web 2.0 for HR Call Centers

Web 2.0 for HR Call Centers

Nov 22, 2010

Call centers traditionally have a couple of major technologies sitting in them for HR.  We will usually have some sort of knowledgebase that contains access to policies, procedures, and prompts to all sorts of questions and answers.  At the same time, we should always have case management going on at the same time – the system that tracks employee inquiries and how we resolved them.

I’m not talking knowledge base here.  Knowledgebase seems already to be moving towards Web 2.0 technologies.  With things like tagging on the metadata layer, easy access to information is well within Web 2.0 capabilities.  However, I’m not sure we’ve really thought about Web 2.0 nearly as much when it comes to things like case management.  There seem to be a lot of hurdles to overcome, as people consider the problems Facebook has had with security, and people grapple with the concept of “social media” interacting with issues they consider private, we need to ensure that Web 2.0 does not  create more issues than it may solve.  Additionally, as cases in the system are escalated, workflows may not be as native to Web 2.0 systems as they are in traditional case management.

But let’s say we could use web 2.0 as case management.  After all, each case is just a thread with security permissions and some workflow attached to it.  It would be pretty easy to see a case getting logged and then the users (the rep who receives the case, the employee and then any escalation COE’s) would simply become subscribers to the case.  Any time anything happened to the case/thread, each subscriber would automatically be notified of the event.  All the notifications are built into web 2.0 even though “workflow” might not be.  Since you have the ability to “close” threads in almost all Web 2.0 communications technologies, you’d simply use similar functionality for closing cases.  if you wanted to escalate a case to a COE, you’d simply add that COE to the “subscribers” for that thread.

Now, obviously we would not call them “subscribers” “threads” and “notifications” but you get the point that the current Web 2.0 technologies are generally usable.  What we may not get are the robust workflow tools that we would have today.  Along with this go the task lists of things that are still on the “tickler file” of things to do.  However, I’m pretty sure that with the pre-existing base of Web 2.0 technologies, it would not be that much effort for a vendor to plug in some decent workflow and front end task lists.

All in all, we seem to talk a lot about how great Web 2.0 is going to be, how it will help us gather knowledge, innovate, connect and collaborate.  But there are other uses we have not thought of yet that will also simplify our lives.  Rather than having multiple applications for all of this “stuff” imagine a world where your collaboration tool was the same as your knowledg base and case management.  I’m not so sure it’s that far fetched.

2 comments

  1. Collaboration can be very helpful element of case management, but for case management to work effectively, it must have an ownership paradigm, or accountability. To say case management is “just a thread with security permissions and some workflow attached to it” is selling the benefits of case management short. The power of case management is to be able to track the flow of an employee issue or question from start to finish, use collaboration to get the problem solved as quickly and accurately as possible, automate defined processes via workflow, ensure the case is handled with proper SLAs and in the end, there is a complete audit trail of the entire case. Add other capabilities, such as search, a knowledge base, attachments, and asset management, and now you have a powerful case management system that creates value for an HR call center.

    I am curious about one thing. You mention that call centers “should always have case management going on at the same time.” Yet to me, it seems that very few HR call centers actually use case management. Are you finding that most do?

  2. It may simply be a definition of what we’re going to call a “call center.” Many organizations have a group of people who pick up the phone and take incoming inquiries. However, I’m not sure how many organizations actually have full fledged call centers. I would think that when there are large, dedicated organizations to the intake of calls, and are a legitimate part of the HR service delivery infrastructure, you’ll really need to have case management.

    As cases are identified through HRBP’s, or taken into the call center, escalated through COE’s, resolution and time to close cases are pretty difficult to measure without a full system.

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