Four simple steps for developing a service desk solution

Success through your service catalog requires a little preparation, but the payoff is well worth the effort


A service catalog is exactly what you might expect. An online portal used to list the collection of services provided. And a display window of said services. For the user, there's a concise services overview. Terms and conditions of services offered. The ability to track and trace services; and frequently asked questions about the service.

A service catalog clarifies services. Manages user expectations. Markets services to users.

But here's where we get to the brass tacks. An online service catalog means users can request services when needed. Most importantly, the catalog provides for the ability of users to self-service their own needs whenever they need them. In setting up a service catalog you've got to know where to start, of course. In so doing, you've got to know whether customers are happy with the services you want or hope to provide

So, let's get started. What follows are just four simple steps to help you fine-tune your service catalog, start to finish.

Step 1: Compile your services

The simple fact is that more and more organizations are introducing service catalogs. The reason for this is simple: They provide an overview of the services the organization offers as a service department and the benefits are generally two-fold: To create realistic expectations for internal service users and service catalogs help more completely explain where the service desk's time (and therefore) is getting spent.

The first step in the service desk creation is simple. Compile your service catalog. Start by describing what you already know, and work together with your users to determine what you still need to implement to provide the very best in service. To do this, assign responsibilities to members of the service desk to determine who's going to be responsible for which tasks.

When doing so, ask the following questions: Who has final responsibility for the service catalog – the head of the department, the service manager or an application manager? Will there be editors to help describe services? And who will take on that task?

Then the obvious: Work together with user to describe the services offered, even including pictures and conditions where relevant. Let the service desk team work with users to accomplish this. Working with the users means they can review all the descriptions so they are easy to understand and that instructions are easy to follow.

From this you can create a logical structure for the flow of services. This includes determining how you will structure the catalog. This might mean that telephone system maintenance (everything to do with the phones, actually) are part of IT. You might think this is logical, but do your users feel the same. If you're thinking you'll find the perfect structure the catalog, though, beware. There's no such thing as "perfect."

Build a design that works best for your organization and move forward. Update and change it as required or as feedback permits. What you want to accomplish is for users to easily locate the information they need through easily searched information, helpful tags and labels for each service.

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Step 2: Measure your service catalog's quality

Now that the catalog is live, you've got to determine whether your services are delivering as agreed. Are you, then, on the right track from the perception of your user? To determine your success, collect data through your service level agreements (SLAs). This means collecting statistics on the quality of the services offered. This means determining whether the service desk team is able to deliver services according to the agreement established with your user. By using the responses users and processing times from reports and measurements, you can determine if you're meeting the needs of users.

However, statistics don't always tell the whole story. Meeting your SLAs doesn't guarantee that you're making your customers happy. That's why you also measure customer experience. Many service desks ask for a review after they close a call. For example, customers may be asked to give a star-rating.

Alternatively, you could send out regular questionnaires about your services.

Step 3: Match demand and supply

Providing what the customer needs? Sure. Now that the catalog is fully operational and you've got an idea of the quality of your services. The next question whether or not you are providing services that meet your users' needs. In the event that the services don't match the needs of your customers, you'll simply need to ask them what they want. In many cases, service departments often – usually – make assumptions about what users want. That might be a good place to start, but then you need to make sure you follow up with users to ensure than your assumptions regarding users is correct. In this case, talk to your users to identify the services they need. Doing this is pretty simple. Put up a physical or digital idea box and go around the office and do a sample survey. Another thing to try is to appoint a spokesperson who can host regular meetings with users to identify their needs and if they changed? If they have, change the services offered.

For some perspective, perhaps your service department spends a good deal of time and money providing the latest apps only to discover that users hardly care about these resources. Instead, they just want high-speed Wi-Fi in every room. If this is the case, ax the apps that no one is using and focus on other services.

Step 4: Map your services with user journeys

Now that you've adjusted your services to your customers' needs, what else can you improve? Look at the bigger picture. Instead of focusing on specific services, start working on your customer's whole experience.

Map all communication. For example, it's pretty likely that for each call, a user speaks with more than one operator through a variety of channels, ranging from the self-service portal to emails and phone calls. Each of these interactions should be mapped. Determine how the user experiences the services and it of the most benefit. Is your service desk allowing users to find answers quickly, easily? These findings help you paint the clearest possible picture of the services offered.

To gauge your reality, ask users for feedback about the journey you create. Through this communication, you'll be able to determine whether there are any interactions that have been overlooked. This feedback provides you with valuable insight into your service delivery skills and ability and, perhaps, its image.

Keep it simple

The final step is simple. And that's it – try to keep things simple for your users. For example, try not to waste time on developing the perfect catalog, just take action to set one up if that's the direction you plan to take. Remember, the final version of the catalog won't be the one your start with. Simply collect feedback and keep improving. Once you're done this, you can begin to set your success indicators, which is a conversation for another time.

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