Change Mangement & the P-card

Study: Training, communication critical when implementing self-service applications for corporate card program

Stamford, CN  October 30, 2001  Training and cardholder communication are more important than technical and control issues when it comes to implementing self-service applications for corporate card program management, according to the results of a recent study by GE Capital Financial.

Self-service applications allow cardholders to use the Web to view their transactions, maintain address information, obtain balance and available credit information, check payment status and perform other account-management activities.

In the study, fewer than two-thirds of corporate travel and purchasing card administrators reported that they allow their cardholders access to a self-service application, but not due to control issues. Rather, the administrators identified communication and training issues as the main obstacles to implementing and encouraging cardholder usage.

"A system that is rich in features is important, but what the study tells us is that staff and cardholder training and communication are key," said Jeffery Dye, president of GE Capital Financial, the corporate card unit of GE Card Services. "Implementing a self-service application is more than a technical exercise, it's a change management opportunity."

Conducted in July and August, the study combined telephone and Internet surveys of medium and large-sized organizations. More than 80 major corporations and universities responded, representing a population of users and non-users of self-service applications. Corporate travel and purchasing card administrators of seven different card issuers participated.

In all, 66 percent of the respondents indicated that they were currently using a self-service application or would be implementing such an application within a year. Program administrators reported that the features they use most in a self-service application include viewing, downloading and printing transactions, with nearly 75 percent of respondents currently using or planning to use this functionality. Program administrators also expressed strong interest in being able to suspend and close accounts, change address information and maintain credit limits.

Results also show that for administrators who permit their cardholders to access a self-service system, the features they most encourage their cardholders to use include:

 - Viewing transactions

 - Downloading account billing information

 - Maintaining address information

 - Obtaining balance and available credit information

 - Checking payment status

An overwhelming number of respondents, both user and non-users, indicated that Web-based training would be used as an education method.

GE Capital says that, in response to the study's findings, it has released a communication toolkit to make it easier for program administrators to educate their cardholders on the features of GE Capital's Internet-based self-service application, GE NetService.