Like death and taxes, service requests are a fact of life for most businesses. No matter the industry, most businesses receive requests, both from internal users and from customers.
The way you manage service requests has a direct impact on your team’s efficiency and your business’ success. If you’re still managing service requests with the back-and-forth of email, instant messages, or spreadsheets, the headaches are predictable:
- You don’t know the status of requests
- You don’t know who is responsible for what
- You waste time searching for misplaced or missing information
- Incoming requests are inconsistent
- There is a lack of accountability in the process
- You use multiple tools to find information and get things done
If any of this sounds familiar, then this article is for you. Below, we explain what all is involved in service request management, why it is so important for business success, and the best way to tackle high-volume, repetitive requests.
What is a service request?
A service request is any type of request from a user who needs support, information, or some kind of action in the day-to-day operation of a business. Service requests are received in nearly every area of a business, including:
- Human Resources (HR)
- Sales and Marketing
- Information Technology (IT)
- Customer Service (SC)
Common types of service requests
Service requests can be generated by employees, vendors or customers. Examples of service requests include:
- An expense reimbursement request from an employee (Finance)
- A vacation, or other time-off requests from an employee (HR)
- A purchase order authorization from a department or employee (Finance)
- A password reset from an employee or a customer (IT)
- A request from one business area (such as the marketing department) for content creation by another business area (like in-house writing staff) or an external contractor.
It’s important to know that service requests are different from incident requests. An incident is an unexpected problem —such as a computer failure, or a paycheck issued to the wrong person—that requires a support request that falls outside the scope of day-to-day operations. In contrast, a service request is a request for help with routine processes or components of a system.
Because service requests can come from so many different places, addressing them efficiently requires a well-planned strategy for receiving and acting on them.
What is service request management?
The definition of service request management refers to the tools and processes that allow people to submit service requests, assign responsibility for requests, and track the status of those requests between the time they are opened and the time they are closed.
An effective service request management solution can support requests from any area of a business. It allows employees to keep track of, and respond to, requests for support in the IT department, for example, while at the same time managing requests within the finance, marketing, or customer service departments. People used to believe that service request management was important only for businesses in the IT industry, or that all service requests involve IT systems, but that is not true; service requests come from nearly every area of a business, no matter the industry.
Benefits of service request management
An effective and efficient service request management process delivers a range of benefits to the business, including:
Automation of repetitive tasks
Many support requests, such as resetting a password or responding to frequently asked questions, can be automated using software. Automation allows your business to respond to requests with virtually no effort by staff. In this way, it keeps support staff free to focus on more complex issues that cannot be automated.
By centralizing request management, you gain a single portal for managing and tracking the status of all of your requests. In other words, you won’t need to frantically search your email inbox to find out who made a request or the date the request was made, only to toggle over to a spreadsheet to update the information, and email a link to someone else.
Standardized handling of request fulfillment
A service request management system provides a consistent framework for fulfilling service requests. It ensures that every request can be submitted using the same process and will be handled in the same way. The process is therefore repeatable and consistent from the perspective of users, who need not navigate ad hoc requesting systems or wonder whether a request is actually being processed.
Better communication with stakeholders
Communication with users who submit service requests is key, especially when requests take an extended period to fulfill. Service request management solutions that keep users informed of the status of their request—and let them know an estimated time for completion—help to keep users satisfied.
What is request fulfillment?
Request fulfillment is the process used to keep track of a service request throughout its lifecycle. Responding to or addressing a service request is one element of request fulfillment, but it also includes monitoring when a request was submitted, who was assigned to respond to it, whether the response was successful, and when the request can be considered successfully addressed.
Or, if the first attempt to address the request failed, the request fulfillment process would continue by reassigning a staff member to respond until the issue is successfully closed.
What is the service request management process?
The service request management process is a series of steps that are followed over the lifecycle of a service request. They include:
- User request: The user submits a request for service.
- Service team assessment: The team responsible for managing service requests assesses the request and determines how to address it. (Sometimes, this process can be automated using software.)
- Request fulfillment: Responsibility for addressing the request is assigned and executed.
- Close ticket: When the request has been successfully fulfilled, the service response ticket can be closed.
- Follow-up: Although following up on service requests is not always necessary, in many cases it is beneficial to reach out to the user who submitted the request to ensure that it was fulfilled satisfactorily. Collecting this feedback is useful both for double-checking that issues were indeed resolved, and for assessing user satisfaction with the service request management process.
Ensuring that the information the manager receives from the customer is accurately recorded in a timely fashion is critical. A BPM platform can prompt the customer success manager to summarize the information from their meeting with the new customer, such as:
- What solution the client was using before your solution?
- What are the customer hopes to achieve with the use of your solution?
- How can you help the client to achieve what he expects?
The exact stages within the service request management process will vary somewhat depending on which types of systems you are working with, but the steps listed above are typical in most scenarios.
Service request management priorities
Identifying the priority of each service request is important for ensuring that your team responds to the most important requests as promptly as possible. Some requests (such as a payment authorization request that needs to be completed by the end of the day, or a password reset for a user who’s trying to log into critical software) are more urgent than others (like an expense reimbursement, or a vacation request, which typically could take a few days to be processed without causing a serious disruption).
To assess service request management priorities efficiently, consider the following best practices:
Understand users needs
Make sure that the service request management tools you use allow users to indicate the importance of each request by explaining why they are submitting it. Although you should not prioritize requests based on this information alone, having this context from the user’s perspective is critical for assessing priority requirements.
Avoid redundant requests
Each service request should involve only one support ticket. If you allow users to submit requests through multiple channels (email, chat, phone request), or you record requests in multiple locations, users may submit a request more than once for the same need. And you’ll waste time identifying redundant requests and assessing their priority levels.
Distinguish requests from incidents
As noted above, service requests involve day-to-day support needs, as opposed to incidents, which involve critical and unexpected disruptions to systems. Your system should make it easy to distinguish between these two types of issues, or identify service request patterns that could indicate a more critical problem. For example, if multiple service requests are suddenly issued by users who ask to reset their email passwords, there may be a problem with the authorization service on your email server, which would need to be addressed as an incident.
Help users help themselves
You can avoid having to manage some low-priority issues by providing users with self-service resources (such as documentation databases and tutorials) that allow them to resolve requests themselves. That way, you have fewer requests to contend with and prioritize.
Use automation to manage repetitive tasks
Leverage automation features to address many types of requests automatically. For example, a request for a password reset could be handled by an automated system that sends an email to the user with a link for resetting the password. Or, a payment authorization request could be processed automatically using a system that collects and verifies the necessary data from the user.
These best practices help ensure that your service request management process leads to the fastest resolutions possible for your clients, while also using minimal staff resources.
Service Request Management Software
Businesses process hundreds (or thousands!) of requests each day, from customer and IT support tickets to time off and reimbursement requests. The teams that handle these requests need a well-defined set of processes in place to accelerate their response rates, avoid confusion, and reduce their backlogs.
Request management software can help bring efficiency and control to request management while eliminating the redundancies and stress that can overwhelm teams.
Advantages of request management software
The more requests your business manages, the more important it is that you implement efficient, consistent processes for resolving them. Service request management software can help by delivering
- Standardization. Creating well-structured procedures to submit and resolve requests reduces the potential for information gaps. Your team can focus on operations, not tracking down missing information.
- Accessibility and ease-of-use. Anyone can create a service request, so users won’t have to create an account or log in to Pipefy to reach you.
- Efficiency. Automating steps in your service management processes through customizable rules eliminates the possibility of manual errors and keeps processes moving quickly to completion.
- 360° insights: When processes are consistent and information is centralized, your team can exert more control over request statuses and identify potential bottlenecks more quickly.
- Better collaboration. Service requests that get routed to multiple teams are at risk or becoming delayed or lost. Automated communication and clearly defined workflows help bring requests to completion successfully and prevent any from falling through the cracks.
- Handle requests/better experience for requesters.
Using service management software for all your teams
Although service management is often associated with IT, it actually involves teams throughout your organization, including those in customer service, finance, or human resources. Building a cohesive strategy for service management can reduce inconsistencies and inefficiencies across all of these departments.
IT service management
IT departments play an increasingly central role in business operations. Speed, accuracy, and process visibility are critical in effectively managing the broad range of service requests your IT team receives. Service management software helps your IT department automate processes to reduce response time, track requests from start to finish, and centralize information for easy access by all team members.
Customer service & support
Your ability to resolve customer service issues has a direct impact on your company’s reputation and profitability. Your customer-facing teams need to manage a wide variety of requests quickly while also maintaining your CRM system and customer communications.
Request management software helps you enhance the customer experience by centralizing information, tracking requests at every touchpoint, and automating communications.
Human Resources & People Operations
Employees are your most valuable resource, and maintaining high levels of engagement and morale helps your HR or People Ops team attract and retain the most talented employees in the market. A software solution can bring accountability and speed to many of your HR team’s processes including onboarding and offboarding, performance evaluations, leave requests, and vacation requests. Automation can also improve HR service delivery, which in turn improves employee experience.
Responsible planning is impossible without access to accurate, reliable information, and nowhere is this more true than in your company’s finance department. Everyone in the company depends on your finance team to keep budgets and numbers up to date and error-free. A software solution can eliminate redundant or repetitive tasks, so your finance team has more time to focus on the bigger picture.
Sales and marketing teams manage service requests from many stakeholders, including clients, vendors, and the C-suite. If the process for handling a high volume of requests isn’t efficient, the time taken to resolve them will impact your team’s understanding of your customers, your competitors, and your sales funnel.
Request management is the service manager’s best friend
When service requests are improperly or inefficiently managed through email threads, spreadsheets, or a disparate set of tools, you risk wasting resources and leaving users unsatisfied or uninformed. But by managing and fulfilling requests quickly, efficiently and accurately, you can delight stakeholders and avoid disruptions caused by unaddressed service requests.
Pipefy helps service managers avoid these pitfalls by empowering your team to organize, control, and automate their workflows. All without the need for additional technical resources. Relevant information is consolidated into a single system and visible in dashboards that make it easy to see and track the status of any request.
Managers can cite a solid service request management record as a reflection of business efficiency. That means increased productivity, happier customers, and more engaged partners.