Whether they’re coming from employees, suppliers, or customers, service requests are a common occurrence for businesses in all industries. The way you manage service requests has a direct impact on your team’s efficiency, and the success of your business. But without a structured and standardized approach to request management, requesters, agents, managers, and system admins are likely to experience these common and predictable headaches:
- Confusion about how to make requests
- Lack of status transparency for those making requests
- Slow request turnaround or fulfillment times due to errors or missing information
- Decentralized intake process scattered across several systems, like email and spreadsheets
- Time-consuming manual and inefficient work
- Bad request hand-offs between team members
- Lack of reporting and limited ability to identify workflow bottlenecks
- Lack of control and visibility over execution
- Dependence on IT, and an inability to deploy service request workflows on their own
If any of this sounds familiar, then this article is for you. Below we explain what is involved in service request management, why it’s so important for business success, and the best way to manage high-volume, repetitive requests.
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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.
Incident vs. service request
An incident is an unplanned IT disruption that affects a company. When an incident occurs, a request for resolution may lead to complex IT workflows in order to resolve disruptions. These sorts of requests are usually time-sensitive due to their nature and organizational impact.
A service request is a formal request submitted by employees for something to be provided. Service request workflows are typically less complex and are either approved or denied based on the budget, need, or urgency.
Because service requests can come from so many different places, addressing them efficiently requires a well-planned strategy for receiving and acting on them.
Key differences of incident vs. service request
|An unexpected problem that affects a company||Request for help or access|
|Example: Server connection issue, a computer failure, or a paycheck issued to the wrong person||Example: Expense reimbursement or purchasing a software license|
|Requires a support request that falls outside the scope of day-to-day operations||Follows routine processes or components of a system|
Examples of service requests
Service requests can be generated by employees, vendors, or customers. Examples of service requests include:
A reimbursement request is when an employee has paid for a business expense out-of-pocket and is seeking reimbursement from a business. This can include expenses related to education or travel. These requests will need to be approved by the finance team.
This is an internal request that will come from employees seeking time off, like vacation paid time off or sick leave. These requests will need to be approved by an employee’s manager.
Purchase order approval request
When a department or employee needs to procure a service or product, they will need to submit their request for purchase order authorization. Depending on the request, the request will need to be approved by either the procurement or purchasing team.
Password reset request
Requests related to passwords or access to company resources, like computers or software, are typically directed to the IT team.
These are requests from one business area (such as sales) to the marketing department for content creation to help support department initiatives or goals.
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What is service request management?
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.
Benefits of successful request management
An effective and efficient service request management process delivers a range of benefits to the business, including:
Automating time-consuming and 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.
Centralizing information for a more streamlined process.
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.
Standardizing the 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.
Improving communication and collaboration with requesters and internal teams.
Communication with requesters is key, especially when requests take an extended period to fulfill. Service request management solutions that keep requesters informed of the status of their request—and let them know an estimated time for completion — help to keep requesters (and employees) satisfied.
Reading recommendation: Business Service Management (BSM): Definition and Components
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. 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 below are typical in most scenarios.
Step 1: Initiation
A request for service is submitted to the appropriate service team for review.
Step 2: 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.)
Step 3: Fulfillment
The team responsible for addressing the request is assigned, and the service request is fulfilled.
Step 4: Completion
When the request has been successfully fulfilled, the service request ticket is closed and resolved.
Step 5: 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 or feedback the manager receives from the requester is accurately recorded in a timely fashion is critical. A business process automation platform can automatically share a survey with requesters to collect their thoughts on the service request process and their experience.
How to manage 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 requests. Unlike high-priority requests, these non-urgent requests could take a few days to be processed without causing serious disruption. To manage service requests efficiently and without delays, consider the following best practices.
Understand requester needs.
Make sure that the service request management tools you use allow requesters 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 requesters to submit requests through multiple channels (like email, chat, phone request), or you record requests across multiple systems, requesters may submit a request more than once for the same need. This not only wastes their time and leads to confusion, but it can waste resources and 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 requesters 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 requesters help themselves.
You can avoid having to manage some low-priority issues by providing requesters with self-service resources (such as documentation databases, request portals, 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.
What is service request management software?
From customer support requests and IT support tickets to time off and reimbursement requests, businesses handle hundreds of requests each day. In order for these requests to be fulfilled in a timely and accurate manner, a well-defined set of processes need to be in place.
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:
- Standardize the request process. 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.
- Centralize requests. Build portals and forms to centralize intakes and allow the requester to track (or be informed) and interact with their requests.
- Create more efficient and productive workflows with low-code automation. Deploy, customize, and automate workflow business rules to fulfill these requests, create reporting, and track data. Automating steps in your service management processes through customizable rules eliminates the possibility of manual errors and keeps processes moving quickly to completion. Look for low-code software that minimizes dependence on IT teams for faster adaptability with increased ability to improve workflows and scalability of operations.
- Gain control and visibility. When processes are consistent and information is centralized, your team can exert more control over request statuses and identify potential bottlenecks more quickly.
- Improve internal team collaboration. Service requests that get routed to multiple teams are at risk of becoming delayed or lost. Automated communication and clearly defined workflows help bring requests to completion successfully and prevent any from falling through the cracks.
- Improve requester (and employee) satisfaction. With better data reporting capabilities, generate insights for process improvements that help build better experiences for requesters and fulfillment teams.
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How to use service management software for all your teams
Building a cohesive strategy for service management can reduce inconsistencies and inefficiencies across all of these departments. Although service management is often associated with IT, it actually involves teams throughout your organization, including those in customer service, finance, or human resources.
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 and 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.
HR and People Ops
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.
Improve your service request management with Pipefy
When service requests are improperly or inefficiently managed through email threads, spreadsheets, or a disparate set of tools, you risk wasting resources and leaving requesters unsatisfied or uninformed. But by managing and fulfilling requests quickly, efficiently, and accurately, you can avoid disruptions caused by unaddressed service requests.
Pipefy empowers business leaders across departments to easily deploy service request workflows through a low-code solution that helps them increase workflow control and visibility, while also decreasing the lead time of request delivery and improving the experience for requesters and agents.
The low-code solution supports teams with limited IT support to create a better requester experience, centralize the intake of demands, and create optimized workflows to fulfill requests — accurately and without delays.
With Pipefy, managers can cite a solid service request management record as a reflection of business efficiency, which means increased productivity, happier customers, and more engaged business partners.