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5 min read

4 Things to Adjust in Your Service Strategy During the Coronavirus Crisis

By Lauren Saalmuller on 3/20/20 9:00 AM

SHIFTING YOUR SERVICE MANAGEMENT STRATEGY

No matter how strong your service strategy is, it most likely won’t hold up to the challenges your service teams are facing with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

This pandemic has severely impacted businesses and customers alike. If you’re ahead of the curve and have already developed a contingency plan, great! Keep in mind that this crisis poses different challenges every day, so you’ll need to continuously assess and adapt your strategic plan.

If your organization has only started to review its service structure or has only recently been affected by the dire situation at hand, read on to discover the four most important things to assess and adjust in your service management strategy. First, consider the big picture by asking yourself: How is my service strategy going to be impacted? What components of my strategy must change, and how do I prioritize these changes?

Now, take a step back and review your current strategy before making adjustments. Here are the challenges that may possibly arise, what will be impacted most and what to focus on first.

 

1. REVIEW YOUR CONTRACTS

The most important question to ask when reviewing your service strategy in a crisis is: What’s the contractual impact going to be during (and immediately following) this situation?

As a service provider, your service level agreements (SLAs) to customers, regardless if they are internal or external to your organization, are likely to be impacted. Now is the time to evaluate your most important contracts to ensure you can meet your obligations, and if not, re-prioritize them and address what may need to change and include business stakeholders where necessary. If your service level agreements are internal, then try to determine what the impact might be if there is a fundamental change in the way your entire business operates. With all of your internal staff working remotely, what is the impact on your ability to deliver service within your internal SLA’s?

For example, your service teams may experience an overload of requests from panicked customers that lead to higher volumes of work, which means that your team’s target close time for a particular type of non-urgent request may get lower priority and thus, an uncommon increase in resolution turnaround time.

If this is the case, you’ll need to determine whether you have provisions in place in your contracts for SLA changes. If you do, you may need to implement them for the remainder of the crisis to mitigate disruption to your service as much as possible and reset customer expectations. If you don’t have provisions in place, you’ll need to figure out what SLAs can and can’t change and address how to deal with SLA adjustments as soon as you can.

The key to making any adjustments to your contractual obligations is ensuring you communicate them to the right people, so that they know why and how your business services are changing.

 

2. CONSIDER THE TECHNICAL IMPACT

The next important piece of your service strategy to review is the technical impact this crisis will have on your organization. Is it “business as usual” for you? This is doubtful. Even if your business continues to thrive, how you continue to do so will shift.

Now you’ll need to ask yourself and your department the following: is your staff capable of working remotely, and are your networks ready for a higher volume of remote workers? Do you have collaboration and communication tools in place to support people across the organization effectively, especially if they need to work remotely?

The situation may require the need to acquire, provision and support new hardware and software if your staff needs to work from home. You must also think about whether your company is required to provide better working environments for your staff (not everyone will have access to a comfortable office chair and desk) and if your workers are insured. It’s crucial to consider what parts of the business need altered supplies and processes and what the protocol will be for implementing and monitoring these changes.

Ultimately, the technical impact will result in financial implications. How much will the changes in processes and tools cost your company, and what budget shifts need to be made for those changes to happen? Keep this at the forefront of your strategy as you navigate each day of the crisis.


Are you breaching any contractual obligations like HIPPA by allowing staff to work remotely? Does it introduce data security risks? Are others not in your organization going to overhear/see things they should not? These are all important considerations to keep in mind as you review and implement your service strategy.


 

3. DON'T FORGET THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE

Because service management is about serving people, you’ll also need to determine what the human impact is going to be, not just for your customers, but also for your employees.

It’s time to take a close look at your service team structure. Is it still applicable if your service teams need to work remotely in case of a building shutdown? There may be essential and non-essential employees within your organization, so some employees may still be required to come into the office. How do you plan to support each group of individuals?

Working remotely can also be isolating, so consider how your organization plans to keep teams in communication with one another (both for business brainstorms and for social interaction) to keep morale high.

Keep in mind that everyone—customers, employees and leadership included—will likely experience some stress and anxiety both at work and personally during the situation. To minimize confusion and fear, be as responsive and upfront as possible in your communications regarding the new status quo. If your employees and customers have clarity into what is occurring and how you as a leader are dealing with it, the less concerned and more cooperative they will be.

 

4. VERIFY THE STATUS OF YOUR VENDORS

Now it’s time to assess your vendors. After all, how they modify their strategies might affect yours. With that in mind, have you assessed how prepared your vendors are for daily shifts in crisis management? If they’re not ready, how does your company need to respond?

First, evaluate your company’s most critical applications that your organization needs in order to stay operational and reach out to those vendors. If your vendors can no longer meet your business needs, consider an alternative vendor that may have solutions geared toward your altered requirements or certain product and supplies in stock that your current vendor doesn’t.

Before choosing this route, inquire how easy it is to switch vendors during and after the crisis to make sure the switch is worth your effort, time and money.

 

CONCLUSION

When it comes to providing service and having service management strategies in place, the primary goal of providing excellent service doesn’t change, even during a crisis. And while having a strategic plan in place is crucial to your department—and your company’s—success, it’s important to be flexible enough to alter your strategic plans to maintain business procedures and prevent widespread concern among your teams and customers should an unexpected situation arise.

In a crisis, you must first take a step back and review your current strategies and focus on the following components:
  • Contractual Obligations
  • Technical Impact
  • Impact on Humans
  • Status of Vendors

By prioritizing these four pieces first, you’ll be as prepared as possible for a crisis and be able to monitor and adjust your company goals and plans accordingly.

Topics: Service Management SLA Blog Service Strategy
3 min read

4 Reasons to Have a Flexible Approach to Service Management

By Nate Lipka on 9/26/18 9:00 AM

IS A ROCK-SOLID SERVICE STRUCTURE REALLY IDEAL FOR YOUR TEAM?

Within the IT industry, everyone looks to get the most out of their service team. They often look to find concrete solutions to their service management problems. “Should I be running under an ITIL framework or an Agile framework?” “How should I structure the roles and responsibilities of my team members?”

As you reach decisions around these issues, you need to remember the answers are not etched in stone. Effective change management gives your team the ability to pivot to better solutions. Staying flexible in your service management structure helps your team adapt.

Here are four reasons why operating with a flexible service management structure can help your IT service team:

 

1. TEAM MEMBERS WILL CHANGE

As you likely experience already, staff turnover is a stark reality of the IT industry. Based on a recent study by LinkedIn, technology has the highest turnover rate of all work sectors. Within technology, the IT & Services industry has the fourth highest turnover rate at 13%.

Yet, it’s not all gloom and doom. If you hire the right people, you will find leaders who stay on your team. These people will take on more responsibility and help you drive efficiency.

Can your service team handle shifts in roles and responsibilities without interruptions? A flexible service management structure enables your team to adapt to any personnel changes. You also need to make sure the system you use to manage service can adjust to these shifts in your team formation.

 

2. COMPANY STRUCTURE WILL CHANGE

No matter how long your company history, your business structure will not stay the same. You might create a new position in IT or add more members to your management team. Changes in organizational structure can have a major effect on your service team.

You need to prepare for how these changes will affect your team’s performance. If you don’t update your service, you put both your team’s and your company’s service effectiveness at risk.

With a flexible service management approach, look to track how service interacts with the larger business. Armed with this information, you can tailor your service to maximize efficiency across all departments. This will help with multi-department operational events such as new employee onboarding. It can also help you identify service gaps in the greater company landscape.

 

3. TECHNOLOGY ALWAYS CHANGES

Your assets are a key part of how you structure your service management. After all, asset management is one of your team’s core functions. But, you can always depend on technology always evolving. Technological innovations not only affect your assets but also your company’s infrastructure.

As technology iterates, your service management strategy needs to account for any asset changes. If you can’t adopt new technology and retire outdated assets, it can lead to serious problems such as critical business data loss.

Flexible service management does not mean your technology change processes should be flexible. But, you need to maintain an iterative process design for services around assets and infrastructure. Utilizing tools that can integrate with new technology will help you to avoid tech debt.

 

4. INDUSTRY BEST PRACTICE ALWAYS CHANGES

The advancement of technology goes hand in hand with the forward progress of the entire IT industry. Best practices are constantly amended and improved. An example would be the growing standard of self-service portals. With ITIL 4 nearing closer to public release, it also marks a trend to expand IT services to include areas such as DevOps.

A flexible service management approach empowers you to measure and adopt new best practices without disrupting your service. For example, do you think your team would improve under Agile practices? Try to map out your service structure under Agile. With this larger picture, you can appraise this approach and make the right decision.

 

5. BE FLEXIBLE

Change can be scary. It is natural to feel apprehensive about making changes to your service. You shouldn’t change for the sake of changing, but you don’t want to maintain an antiquated service system. What you can control is how you assess and adapt to change. A flexible approach to service management allows your team to stay effective in a constantly shifting IT landscape.

Topics: Service Management ITIL ITIL Project Management Service Strategy
2 min read

Why Should You Care About ITSM?

By Nate Lipka on 8/9/18 9:00 AM

IF YOU WORK IN IT, THEN YOUR TEAM SHOULD EMPLOY AN ITSM PROCESS.

ITSM is a key element for the service operations of all kinds of IT teams. ITSM defines how your team designs and executes your service operation. Whether your team works out of a shared mailbox or you operate with hundreds of agents across the globe, the IT department is responsible for establishing policies and events to properly align IT services with the needs of the business.

There are several popular ITSM frameworks that are designed to guide teams to most efficiently deliver their services. For example:

  • COBIT (Control Objectives for Information Technology): focuses on the continuity of delivering IT services throughout the whole enterprise
  • ITIL (IT Information Library): focuses on designing a service portfolio that best utilizes IT resources

While each ITSM framework offers different approaches to designing IT processes, they all address important details for improving the efficiency of both your service desk and the overall business.

 

HOW ITSM IMPROVES THE EFFICIENCY OF YOUR SERVICE DESK

An effective ITSM process will improve your workflows by:

  • eliminating bottlenecks in collaborative work
  • reducing error on standard requests
  • routing incoming tickets based on technician speciality and availability
  • setting prioritization standards based on the highest business impact

Your ITSM can also help you identify common requests through service reports. With this information in hand and running a root-cause analysis, your team will be able to identify and solve the underlying technical problems that are leading to ticket creation. This way you can save time by finding a lasting solution rather than addressing the same issues over and over again, which will free up your agents’ time to address other more pressing issues.

 

HOW ITSM IMPROVES THE EFFICIENCY OF THE OVERALL BUSINESS

ITSM addresses not only the efficiency of your service desk but that of your entire organization. By having the information in place to identify and solve technical problems, IT can help the overall business continue to run smoothly. Also, by analyzing potential risks and understanding demand cadences, teams will be better prepared to handle any major outage.

The most important part of a great ITSM system is being able to get a better understanding of the relationships between services and infrastructure. This will help businesses appropriately budget their IT expenditures. Through detailed reporting, service leaders can deliver relevant information to other parts of the business and built an efficient budget.

 

HOW AN ITSM SOLUTION CAN HELP

ITSM solutions help bridge the gap between your theoretical service plans and the reality of your service operation. By having the right technology in place to help service leaders manage the various aspects of ITSM, the true benefits from an effective ITSM framework can be more fully realized by service teams everywhere.

Topics: Service Management ITIL ITSM Service Strategy
2 min read

IT Service Catalog: The Intersection Between Business & Technical Services

By Nate Lipka on 7/20/18 9:00 AM

DEVELOP A SELF SERVICE SUPPORT PORTAL THAT DISPLAYS ALL BUSINESS-CRITICAL SERVICES.

Regardless if support requests are assigned to IT, finance, legal or HR, employees should be confident the right agent is handling their issue. Since employees do not know the full technical scope of their available services, they need an interface that translates their technical issues into ideas they can appreciate. So, what is the best way to display easy-to-understand business services in a one-stop-shop interface?

 

TWO WORDS: SERVICE CATALOG

The service catalog serves as two facets of a service operation:

  • the operational piece of ITIL’s service portfolio
  • the public-facing interface for employees to request services

A service catalog’s interface is built to educate an end-user on service delivery items such as service description, availability, SLAs and costs. In terms of user experience, a proper service catalog should serve as the singular nexus for all types of service requests available. All expectations should be described before a ticket submission to limit confusion.

The user interface of the service catalog focuses on displaying data related to service delivery, while the internal facing documentation provides context on strategy. Additional details are maintained such as target availability, backup, service owner (funding), service representative (business representative), criticality, OLAs and expiry criteria. This data can be used to assess whether a service should exist on the catalog.

  1. When designing the catalog, the following questions may be considered:
  2. What business need does this service address?
  3. Who will pay for these services?
  4. What are the risks and impact of service outages?
  5. How should we prioritize our work?
  6. Do we have enough resources to meet the incoming demand?

Answering these questions helps determine strategy in managing workflows to fulfill all the available services.

 

BUSINESS OBJECTIVES DRIVES IT SERVICE STRATEGY

Before we can discuss the technical requirements of a service catalog, we must investigate the quality criteria for which items are included in the service catalog. It’s key to take into account overarching business objectives such as revenue generation, customer impact and marketplace visibility that drive business processes.

Business services should be designed to maintain critical processes with special consideration on availability and demand. Internal technical services are designed to address the variety of events and processes required to fullfill each business service. These services may include application services, application data and the technology and infrastructure to host this data.

 

DEFINE KPI AND BUILD IMPROVEMENT STRATEGIES

Designing a service catalog to meet the operational requirements of an organization today is only half of the battle. Businesses are dynamic, which requires service teams to constantly benchmark the performance of each service process.

KPIs should be indicated in the Service Design Package—the ITIL-prescribed document defining all aspects of an IT service—to review the continued quality of service. As quality diminishes, the service pipeline may introduce new services or process improvements to help meet your SLAs. Teams should retire CIs when a reduced service quality no longer leads to positive outcomes and document any stakeholders who may have adverse reactions to changes.

As the scope of IT services changes, the service catalog can serve well to mask the complex processes guided by ITIL.

Topics: Service Management ITIL Service Catalog Service Strategy
3 min read

Bridging the Gap Between ITIL and Project Management Best Practices

By Nate Lipka on 7/10/18 9:00 AM

DOES YOUR IT TEAM HAVE THE BEST PROJECT MANAGEMENT STRATEGY?

Forecasts show that cloud-based project management tools are expected to grow around 14% in the next four years, requiring IT software to adapt to new use cases. Organizations with mature ITSM strategies can leverage project management best practices to introduce new services. As teams adapt their service operations to meet increased demands, IT departments are pressured now more than ever to implement changes quickly without posing risks to their service levels.

 

WHAT IS PROJECT MANAGEMENT?

Project management allows teams to build upon ITIL principles by defining several necessary processes when introducing new services. While less defined than incident, problem and change management, project management frameworks (such as PMBOK) can fill in the gaps when implementing new IT services.

When utilizing project management, a project is generally defined as:

a set of planned operations required to fulfil a goal within a defined timeframe

Whether it be to develop software, design new business processes, or update IT infrastructure, project teams typically require individuals across a variety of expertise and geographic locations to come together to scope, plan, implement, monitor and close projects.

 

WHERE ITIL MEETS PROJECT MANAGEMENT

As we narrow our perspective to the ITSM space, we can find definitive connections between ITIL and project management best practices. ITIL actively questions if an IT team is utilizing their resources effectively. Fortunately, ITIL already has defined several key processes required to implement a successful project:

  • Project Initiation: Define key decision-makers, human resources and deliverables, available budget, assessment resources to determine ROI, the risk and mitigation plan and the transitional triggers to move from one stage to another.
  • Project Planning and Coordination: Align the project with an organization’s internal project management guidelines and compliance rules.
  • Project Control: Monitor your total costs and resources such as human efforts and capital expenditures.
  • Project Reporting and Communication: Implement methods to determine IT resource management, business unit demands, and proper scheduling while keeping stakeholders notified of project milestones.

The ITIL guidelines provide a good base when discussing project management best practices by covering areas such as resource management, ROI, communication with stakeholders and identifying transitions.

 

INCORPORATING PROJECT MANAGEMENT BEST PRACTICES

Project management can build upon ITIL objectives. This can be achieved by identifying the right additional processes to include, such as Project Integration Management, Quality Management, Project Procurement Management, and Stakeholder Management.

In order to understand these processes in context, let’s look at how PMBOK defines them:

  • Project Integration Management builds upon resource management by identifying the processes and activities needed to coordinate project groups.
  • Quality Management emphasizes the need to document quality policies, objectives and responsibilities to ensure that the project satisfies all the requirements for which the project was launched.
  • Project Procurement Management identifies the policies necessary to purchase goods and services to complete the project within the deadline and budget.
  • Stakeholder Management identifies all people within the organization affected by the project.

Project management can improve your ITIL practices if you know where to look. Make sure you’re not missing out on the improved effectiveness your team can achieve with these techniques.

Topics: Service Management ITIL Project Management Best Practices Service Strategy
6 min read

6 Top ITSM Thought Leaders of 2018 and What They Can Teach Us

By Nate Lipka on 2/23/18 9:00 AM

IT'S IMPORTANT THAT YOUR SERVICE DESK STAYS RELEVANT.

In the world of IT service management, as in most areas of business operations, it is more important than ever for service desks to stay on top of the latest trends and knowledge that’s being circulated.

Failing to remain “tapped in” runs service desks the risk of losing relevancy or missing opportunities to connect and interact with their customers.


Organizations looking to automate and innovate in 2018 are poised to provide better service to customers and consumers, more efficient operations, and improved service desk metrics. Whether it’s improving processes used to manage tickets or arming the team with more effective service level management tools, experts agree there are major opportunities for organizations seeking to take their operations to the next level.­­

Here is a look at some of our favorite thought leaders and what they have to say about the need for better service operations.

 

JEFF RUMBERG – METRICS OF THE MONTH: SERVICE DESK BALANCED SCORECARD

@MetricNet

Jeff Rumberg is the co-founder and CEO of MetricNet, former CEO of the Verify Group, and a leading IT service and support consultant. In his recent post, Metric of the Month: Service Desk Balanced Scorecard, Rumberg explains that despite service desks having access to copious amounts of performance data, companies still struggle to succinctly answer the question of “how is my service desk performing?” Rumberg suggests that service desks should focus not on individual service desk metrics, but combine them into a single, overall measure of service desk success.

The Balanced Scorecard methodology uses multiple metrics, such as cost per ticket, resolution rates, and customer satisfaction and combines them into a performance “grade” that can be used to track, trend, and benchmark service desk success over time. Communicating a single balanced score with stakeholders is also simpler and more digestible than presenting several metrics independently, especially to those outside the IT department who are looking to understand the performance story.

For service desks looking to create a clear, useful set of metrics that employees and leaders can use to measure performance, the Balanced Scorecard is a proven approach.

Read Jeff’s full story on how to use the service desk balanced scorecard method to effectively measure and communicate your service desk performance.

 

STUART RANCE – HOW TO DEFINE, MEASURE AND REPORT IT SERVICE AVAILABILITY

@stuartrance

“Service availability” can sound like two very different things to different audiences – in this case, we’re talking about the service desk and its customers. While a service desk is keen to report on its glowing metric of 98% service availability, customers are naturally going to recall the 2% of the time that services were not available to them and how that has negatively impacted their day-to-day. Using the current simplistic measure of IT availability that service desks use does not take into account the degree of impact it has on its customers, and there is a better way, according to Stuart Rance, owner of Optimal Service Management Ltd. and a leading IT service management and information security consultant, in the recent post, How to Define, Measure, and Report IT Service Availability.

Companies should instead have meaningful conversations with customers to understand which business functions are most critical to them, and which types of downtime would most adversely affect their work and their customers. These conversations can help to inform a more detailed definition of service availability that’s based on a weighted impact of downtime, disruptions, and related processes. Only after understanding the impact of each type of disruptions can service desks truly create measures and reports that show customers the true impact of service availability.

To read Stuart’s post on service availability, click here.

 

GREGG GREGORY – 5 BEHAVIORS OF A COHESIVE TEAM

@TeamsRock

Teamwork is often overlooked as an element of service desk efficiency, with many employees acting as sole practitioners. In 5 Behaviors of a Cohesive Team, leading team and corporate culture expert Gregg Gregory identifies key traits that strong teams exhibit.

To begin, managers need to build vulnerability-based trust amongst their teams. Great teams function best when all workers believe they can be vulnerable in front of other team members. Being able to be exposed allows workers to take risks and express contrarian ideas.

Allowing conflict around ideas can be healthy within an organization when it’s framed positively. The expression of different ideas in a safe space fosters new solutions and allows those with alternative perspectives to come forward.

Read more of Gregg’s post to learn 3 additional ways service teams can become more cohesive around a shared vision for service desk success.

 

JULIE MOHR – IT FRAMEWORKS, STANDARDS AND MODELS

@juliemohr

It’s never too late to return to the basics and Julie Mohr, author, speaker and expert in IT framework processes, help desk technology and IT governance, does just that with her post, IT Frameworks, Standards and Models.

After all, IT is a practice built on logic and structure, and frameworks are a key way to organize and structure the complex systems inherent in an IT service desk model.

Frameworks helps IT service desks bring order to the seemingly competing priorities by providing an environment where efficiency and efficacy are paramount, and performance measures can be used to improve operations.

While there are a few different frameworks with each having their own place in an organization, the standard bearer is the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), which is frequently used as a roadmap for treating IT operations like a business. Whether it’s for ITIL incident management, ITIL change management or ITIL service strategy, these frameworks strengthen the approach an organization takes to data, processes and responses.

There are also a couple of alternatives to the ITIL framework however, like COBIT and ISO 20000, and knowing where, and in which cases, it makes sense to use each framework depends on the overall business goals and objectives. Using an IT Governance Frameworks model allows an organization to map out which frameworks it should utilize depending on the business questions in mind, as outlined in the figure below:

Learn more about how to use IT Frameworks and Standards to maximize the success of the IT organization and its impact on the business.

 

JEFF TOISTER – HOW TO GET YOUR SUPPORT TEAM OBSESSED WITH SERVICE

@toister

A company’s reputation is only as good as the customer service it provides. Teams that are focused on delivering exceptional service above all are invaluable, writes Jeff Toister, author, contact center thought leader, and president of Toister Performance Solutions, in his post, How to Get Your Support Team Obsessed With Service.

So, what does it take to get your support teams obsessed with providing exceptional service?

Start by creating a shared vision for customer service that aligns team members with a vision that employees can relate to and aspire to every day. This vision should be simple, easy to understand, and customer-centric.

Secondarily, engage with the team around the vision, reinforce its value, and talk about how to apply it to their work every day.

Learn more about Jeff’s advice on how to bolster your customer service, including how the company, Rackspace, successfully did so using the strategy above.

 

STEPHEN MANN – THE PERFECT STORM DRIVING ENTERPRISE SERVICE MANAGEMENT

@stephenmann

“Enterprise Service Management” has been around for over 10 years, but why are people talking about it as though it’s a new “trend?” Stephen Mann, principal analyst and content director for the ITSM industry analyst firm ITSM.tools, recognizes the renewed interest in enterprise service management, and it’s not only because itfinally has a universally-accepted name!

In his post, The Perfect Storm Driving Enterprise Service Management, Mann writes that the tenets of enterprise service management is that it has broad applications well beyond the IT organization. Finance, marketing, facilities, HR, legal, and operations all have a need to respond to service requests for help, or information, and it’s in this greater organizational need that drives enterprise service management. Enterprise service management tools, such as Vivantio, provides utility across a number of diverse business functions so that organizations can realize greater value from the solutions those tools provide, such as workflows, automation, and alerts.

Read on to learn more about the resurgence of enterprise service management in today’s service economy and the impact it can bring to the entire organization

Topics: Service Management ITSM ITSM Trends Service Strategy
2 min read

How to Create An Effective Self-Service Strategy

By Nate Lipka on 2/23/18 9:00 AM

ARE YOUR CUSTOMERS ENGAGED?

With the levels of self-service provided by the likes of Amazon, ASOS, and Zappos, service desks are under mounting pressures to match their service levels, despite having fewer resources. In fact, The Service Desk Institute (SDI) has research that shows that a whopping 64% of service desk professionals keenly recognize this pressure and are ready to respond.

Yet, in an industry where technology is developing at a rapid pace, many service desks struggle to do self-service well. However, unlocking the potential of this technology can greatly increase service desk efficiency and customer experience.

 

LEARN FROM SELF-SERVICE EXPERTS

In partnership with SDI, Vivantio staged and recorded a webinar where you’ll hear about how self-service has been successfully used by real organizations to improve customer satisfaction as well as drive efficiency of the service desk.

In the webinar, Vivantio’s Helen Heyns will be sharing real customer stories and her industry expertise:

“The Self-Service portal (SSP) plays a key role in the customer experience; it’s the shop window and it represents your professionalism, brand and competence in dealing with your customer’s queries and issues. I would love to show you how a well-built self-service portal will improve the efficiency and performance of your teams and in turn increase organizational ROI.” – Helen Heyns, Senior Technical Consultant, Vivantio

From this webinar, you will learn:

  • What a Self Service Portal is and how it works
  • An array of Self Service Portal best practices
  • The multitude of benefits a Self Service Portal brings to the service desk, to customers, and to the overall business ROI – if it’s done right
  • Why investing in a new or improved Self Service Portal now can be a sound decision.
Topics: Service Management Customer Self-Service Self-Service Service Strategy
2 min read

Why the Look and Feel of Your Self-Service Portal Matters

By Nate Lipka on 4/20/15 9:00 AM

LOOKS CAN MATTER WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR SELF-SERVICE PORTAL.

Most companies already recognize the importance of aesthetics and user experience in their corporate websites, as they are key to winning new business. What can often get overlooked is that a self-service portal is essentially an extension of the website. A self-service portal is all about servicing and retaining business, both key factors for any company. Let’s what elements impact the look and feel of your self-service portal and how they can have serious impacts on the health of your business.

self service portal home page screen capture

 

WHAT GOES INTO A GREAT LOOKING SELF-SERVICE PORTAL?

A self-service portal is the “shop window” for any service management team’s customers. This can include internally or externally supported users. It represents your professionalism, branding and competence in dealing with your customer’s queries and issues and, as an important customer service touchpoint, is paramount to starting the process off on the right foot.

A self-service portal is meant to provide a stellar customer experience to your end-users, reduce the total number of inbound service calls and ease the load on your team so you have more time to resolve issues and close tickets.

When your portal looks and feels completely foreign to your brand, it’s unlikely to achieve any of this. At Vivantio, we work with hundreds of service desks who manage a self-service portal. From that experience, we’ve long recognized the value of self-service modules and how the design elements within have an impact on the overall service experience for an end-user. It’s important to account for organizational branding elements like photos and colorways. You also will probably need to make small visual tweaks to your portal design such as color changes in select areas or the addition of a company logo.

With the right tools in place, your service team can control your portal’s look and feel.

monitor and laptop showing the self service portal login page

 

CONCLUSION

A great self-service portal provides value not only to your business but, perhaps more importantly, to your customers. It can provide users with a central location where they can research their own problems with rich content like self-help guides, videos, and FAQs. Your users can also see the status of services, all under the umbrella of your company’s unique branding.

Topics: Service Management Customer Self-Service Self-Service Service Strategy
1 min read

How to Set Up Effective Support Ticket Categorization

By Greg Rich on 2/12/15 9:00 AM

THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO SET UP SUPPORT TICKET CATEGORIES.

After decades of experience in the service management industry and having worked with enterprise giants like Toshiba and Porsche, we’ve seen countless ticket categorization structures in practice. We’ve also seen first hand what works, what doesn’t work, and why.

As you might already know, the ITIL framework does address best practices for ticket categorization. However, ITIL doesn’t identify the elements that are crucial to getting it right. The key to establishing effective ticket categories is two-fold:

 

1. CONSULT WITH YOUR WIDER TEAM

Setting ticket categories is such a contentious process for many teams because priorities are open to interpretation by various parties. For example, CIOs will often push for categories that allow for meaningful reporting. On the other hand, service agents will want categories that drive their own individual service efficiency. The key to getting it right is involving people from all levels to make sure you address everyone’s core needs.

The result will be ticket categories that deliver on all levels, as well as maximum buy-in across your organization.

 

2. AN EVIDENCE-BASED APPROACH

Using past tickets to test the suggested category structure is the quickest way to highlight successes or glaring problems. By reviewing service performance on completed tickets, duplications, unnecessary additions, and potentially confusing hierarchy become immediately clear. To echo the previous point, the wider team should be involved here as they may interpret categories differently. Ultimately, you’ll get the feedback you need to set effective ticket categories.

 

REAL-WORLD BENEFITS

The practical benefits of defining ticket categories this way are clear and measurable, including:

  • Tickets are routed more accurately, more quickly and are resolved in less time.
  • Transformational change is driven through effective, meaningful reporting.
  • Team experts focus primarily on their specialist areas, leading to a higher service desk resolution rate.

Put simply, an effective categorization strategy will drive organizational efficiency, support service level agreements and provide insights into valuable long-term reporting.

Topics: Ticket Prioritization Service Management Ticket Categorization Ticket Best Practices Service Strategy
3 min read

Weighted Time Left: How This Concept Can Improve Support Ticket Times by 10%

By Greg Rich on 10/28/14 9:00 AM

Blog Series: A New Approach to Ticket Prioritization
  1. The Problems with ITIL’s Approach to Support Ticket Prioritization
  2. Weighted Time Left: How This Concept Can Improve Support Ticket Times by 10%

Welcome to the final installment of our A New Approach to Ticket Prioritization blog series.

This post will outline how a weighted approach to prioritizing your ticket system can be applied in practice. We will look to highlight the success of different weightings and their respective benefits and overall results.

Let’s start, however, by recapping some of the main points from our previous post. This will allow for a greater contextual picture to be built and the benefits of applying weightings to tickets to be realized more clearly.

 

THE ATTRIBUTES OF A SERVICE DESK TICKET

In our first post, we discussed the attributes of a service desk ticket and touched on the pieces of information it should contain – one of these being an associated priority. We saw how the ITIL framework stipulates that a ticket’s priority should be derived from its perceived urgency and impact.

But while the ITIL guidelines make for a simple way to derive priorities, they’re not without their faults. The most prominent being the neglect of lower priority tickets due to the dynamic nature of a service desk work queue. The guidance goes on to suggest that the use of a target resolution time can associate a time left attribute to tickets in a queue. By ordering tickets by their time left we tend to have the high priority tickets addressed first but no low priority ticket gets neglected since all tickets will ultimately approach their target resolution time if unresolved.

 

A DIFFERENT APPROACH TO TICKET PRIORITIZATION: WEIGHTED TIME LEFT

With these faults in ITIL’s ticket prioritization methodology in mind, we have found a different approach: one that takes the ITIL concept of a target resolution time but applies a weighting to the time left in order to ultimately return the best value to the business.

This subtle addition means that greater business value is afforded and lower priority tickets don’t fall by the wayside. Weighting can also be applied in relation to specific departments or individuals, such as VIPs, and also to certain ticket categories. This makes it a versatile method in which to influence the order in which tickets are addressed. In fact, the impact of applying weightings to tickets is best seen when compared against tickets that have had no weighting applied.

 

HIGH VALUE TICKETS ARE PRIORITIZED FIRST

The most important benefit realized by applying weightings to tickets is that the ones with the highest value to the business are prioritized first. By focusing on these tickets, IT service providers can ensure that they are always returning the greatest value to their customers in the first instance

Furthermore, tickets that can be prioritized based on their weighted time left allow service desk agents to benefit from more defined procedures. There are no questions raised about which tickets should be focused on next and IT managers can even manipulate weightings to ensure effective control is maintained over the service desk.

Lastly, improved SLA targets are seen across the board, even though the amount of tickets processed, when they were raised and the effort involved remain the same.

 

CHOOSING THE RIGHT WEIGHTING TO DRIVE BUSINESS VALUE

Our testing was primarily conducted using mild weightings. In reality though, specific service desks need to have weightings that complement the needs of the businesses they serve. Our research suggests that the creation of a bespoke service desk profile is crucial and ultimately dependent on the nature of the business, the type of work, effort, frequency, ticket type ratios and respective SLAs.

 

10% MORE TICKETS RESOLVED WITHIN TARGET RESOLUTION TIME

The bottom line in our findings is that almost 10% (9.7) more tickets were resolved within their target time when a weighting was used. It goes without saying that this represents a significant improvement in performance and sees the service desk not only operating more successfully but more efficiently too. To use a real-world example, in a fifty-seat service desk, it’s the equivalent of adding five new members to your team.

We have proven that by adding a simple weighting to the time left on a ticket, the ITIL framework can be taken to the next level to realize true value for the business and its users.

We believe that the weighted approach to ticket prioritization could represent the future of service management. If it can be combined with a more complex model that considers other business factors in the equation, the possibilities are very exciting, indeed. Complex algorithms can be written to customize the approach for individual service desks and the ever-evolving business needs.

Read our full research results on this new ticket prioritization strategy in our whitepaper or feel free to catch back up on the first post in this series.

Blog Series: A New Approach to Ticket Prioritization

  1. The Problems with ITIL’s Approach to Support Ticket Prioritization
  2. Weighted Time Left: How This Concept Can Improve Support Ticket Times by 10%
Topics: Ticket Prioritization Service Management ITIL Service Strategy