Like death and taxes, service requests are a fact of life for most businesses. No matter the industry, most businesses receive service 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:

  • Finance

  • Human Resources (HR)

  • Sales and Marketing

  • Information Technology (IT)

  • Development

  • Customer Service (SC)

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  • Service requests can be generated by employees, vendors or customers. Examples of service requests include:

    1. An expense reimbursement request from an employee (Finance)

    2. A vacation, or other time-off request from an employee (HR)

    3. A purchase order authorization from a department or employee (Finance)

    4. A password reset from an employee or a customer (IT)

    5. 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?

    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 efficient 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.

    Centralized information:

    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?

    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 the series of steps that are followed over the lifecycle of a service request. They include:

    Customer onboarding

    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 information the manager gets 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 the customer hopes to achieve with the use of your solution.

  • How you can 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.

    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.

    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 of 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.

    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.