Tips & Resources

6 Best Practices to Simplify Service Request Management

Guest contributor
By Guest contributor
23 April, 2024

Simplify and optimize service request management using these 6 best practices, helping you achieve streamlined workflows and customer satisfaction.

service management infographic

Whether it’s requesting updated hardware, password resets, new hire onboarding, or travel expenses, service teams handle dozens of requests every day. For larger companies, staying on top of requests can be a challenge, which is where service request management can help.

Service request management helps IT, HR, and other support teams streamline and optimize the handling of service requests. It leverages data, technologies, and a defined strategic process to improve service team workflows and meet customer expectations. 

Essentially, it helps you stay in control of service requests from the moment they’re submitted right up to their completion. 

In this article, we’re going to explore some of the best practices to employ in service request management. But before we do that, let’s kick things off with a definition. 

What is a Service Request?

A service request describes a formal request for assistance submitted by a user to your service team — typically your IT help desk or HR. Depending on your company, you might receive service requests from customers, employees, or vendors. 

stock image of a person working on a computer
Free to use image sourced from Unsplash

Service teams handle a variety of predefined requests according to an established scope. Common service requests for an IT team include things like:

  • Password reset requests.
  • Access permission requests.
  • New equipment and feature requests.
  • Software license requests.

But IT isn’t the only team that fulfills service requests. Other teams, like HR and payroll, might receive requests relating to:

  • Business expenses.
  • Purchase order authorizations.
  • Vacations and time off.
  • Training.
  • New hire onboarding. 

Service requests can be submitted in a variety of ways. For example, you might have a dedicated phone line or use your domain name to create a branded email address for customer service requests. Or, you might include service request forms on your website, or create a centralized employee portal. 

What is Service Request Management and Why Is It Important?

Service request management (SRM) defines the process and tools your company employs to receive, handle, and document requests. Creating an SRM strategy is vital if your service teams receive high volumes of requests.

Without a service request management strategy, you risk not fulfilling user expectations, leading to user dissatisfaction. Plus, disorganized, inefficient SRM can lead to critical operational delays, hindering business productivity.

But by implementing SRM, you can streamline the process to:

  • Monitor service requests from submission to resolution to ensure that none fall through the cracks.
  • Gain 360-degree insight into your process to identify bottlenecks and areas for improvement.
  • Refine your service catalog.
  • Achieve faster request fulfillment. 
  • Boost employee and customer satisfaction and retention
stock image of people working together
Free to use image sourced from Unsplash

Service Request Management vs Incident Request Management

Before we get into the steps and best practices of SRM, let’s quickly touch on a common topic — the difference between service request management and incident request management.

Incident requests refer to when a user makes a request in response to an unplanned or unexpected issue. This could be a system failure, software bug, or any other disruptive, emergency problem. Incident request management involves establishing a process to respond to these emergency issues to minimize the negative effects of downtime or quality of service. 

Service requests, on the other hand, handle a predefined list of low-risk services, such as approving access permissions or handling time off requests. They’re a core part of the service teams’ daily workflow and focus on enablement.

What are the Main Steps in Request Management?

To help you implement the best practices we’ll discuss in a minute, we’ve broken down the service request management lifecycle into five key steps: submission, assessment, fulfillment, completion, and follow-up.

Request Submission

The process begins with the submission of a service request. This typically involves an employee or customer submitting a request via a specified channel, such as email, social media, live chat, phone, or online form.  

Some companies will use more sophisticated, centralized solutions. For example, they might use platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solutions to develop employee portals or dedicated customer support apps. Platform as a service examplesinclude Google App Engine and Microsoft Azure. 

Request Assessment

Once the request has been received, service desk teams will analyze the request so that it can be prioritized and directed appropriately. Assessment involves looking at: 

  • The urgency of the request.
  • The resources and tools needed to handle the request.
  • The team, department, or individuals required to handle the request.
  • The approval process.
  • The cost of the initiative. 

Cost-per-ticket is a particularly vital factor. A North American study found that cost-per-ticket varies significantly by channel. Self-service tickets cost the least at $2.37, while walk-ins and telephone tickets cost the most at $17.10 and $15.72 respectively. Other factors influencing cost include the type of request and the resources needed to handle the request.

figure north american cost benchmarks
Image Sourced from Think HDI

Request Assignment and Fulfillment 

Using the information collected above, the request is directed to the appropriate individual or team. They’ll equip themselves with the necessary resources and get to work completing the request.

Request Completion

The service desk agents complete the request and communicate this to the user. Once the user verifies that the request has been fulfilled, the service team can close and archive the ticket.

Follow Up

After a short length of time (typically within three days), the service team will follow up with the user to verify that everything is OK on their end. This is also an opportunity for teams to ask for feedback.

6 Best Practices to Simplify Service Request Management

Simplifying service request management can be achieved in six key steps. 

1.   Prioritize Service Requests 

Service requests don’t cause disruptions, making them easier to triage than incident requests. However, you should still have a clear system in place for prioritizing requests to make sure that the most important ones are handled first. 

The strategy you use to prioritize requests will depend on what your organization and your customers deem the most urgent. If an employee’s laptop breaks, for example, this will prevent them from performing their daily tasks which can have a negative knock-on effect on business productivity. So, a new equipment request might be classed as more important than, say, a time off request.

2.   Centralize Your Request Process Into One System 

Receiving and handling service requests via multiple siloed channels sets you up for a bunch of organizational issues. Request duplications, data entry errors, poor standardization —- the list goes on.

Centralizing requests into one platform increases accessibility and is particularly effective for boosting remote work productivity. Service teams don’t have to switch between platforms, allowing them to access and resolve requests faster and with less risk of errors.

For example, a cloud contact center unifies customer communications into one system. So, users can submit requests via their preferred platform — phone, email, social media, etc — but service teams can access the requests and all the accompanying data from a singular location. 

IT help desks and employee portals are other great examples of how you can centralize requests into one platform.  

3.   Offer Self-Service Options 

61% of customers prefer resolving simple issues using self-service. Employees prefer it too, as it leads to improved productivity and faster resolutions on both sides. 

statistics about preferences of self-services
Image Sourced from Salesforce

Empower users to perform basic tasks themselves by creating centralized knowledge bases full of helpful guides, articles, and walkthroughs. These resources should help users resolve basic issues themselves and detail the correct steps employees should take before submitting a request to speed up time to completion. 

By providing self-service resources, you can reduce the volume of tickets you receive and the time it takes to complete the tickets that do come through. This is great for your contact and call center management as it minimizes long wait times and enables service teams to quickly handle complex requests. 

Additionally, users should be able to submit requests at their convenience and track the status of their requests with ease.

4.   Leverage Automation 

A lot of service requests require teams to perform repetitive, time-consuming tasks that drain productivity and are prone to human error. Streamlining SRM typically involves automating these tasks using powerful technologies. 

For example, service teams can leverage IT service desk tools to automate ticket triaging and assignment. According to your predefined criteria, automation tools can prioritize submitted tickets and assign them to the appropriate team or employee, optimizing your request management workflow. 

5.   Document Everything You Can

Good document management shouldn’t be an oversight, especially if your team handles a lot of requests.  

Every service request you receive should be properly documented, complete with key details like the type of request, who was assigned to the request, what actions were taken, and how long it took to complete. This helps you keep track of fulfillment data that can be used to monitor and improve your service request management process.  

Process documentation — such as service team scopes, approval processes, service-level agreements (SLAs), and KPIs — should also be documented. Keep these documents up-to-date so that teams can refer to them at all times. 

6.   Define and Monitor Key Service KPIs

Identify, monitor, and regularly report on the key performance indicators (KPIs) that give you insight into the performance of your SRM process. This will help you track the success of your strategy and spot areas for improvement.  

KPIs you could track include: 

  • Average handle time.
  • Average resolution time.
  • Tickets by type.
  • Tickets by channel.
  • Success rates.
  • Customer satisfaction rate.
stock image of a person holding some statistics
Free to use image sourced from Pexels

Wrapping Up

Service desk agents are an asset to your organization, enabling employees and customers to fulfill their duties and desires. So, it’s only right to empower them to perform at their best by implementing a service request management strategy.

Thanks to service level management, service teams can quickly prioritize, respond to, and complete requests. Follow the best practices above to optimize service request handling and drive satisfaction.

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