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Modern service request management 101

The success of an internal help desk lies in the art of balancing the resolution of critical incidents swiftly while also servicing routine requests promptly.

Criticality of issues trump the priority of regular requests on any given day. However, keeping your employees waiting for hours to service a minor service request results in pent up end user frustration and dissatisfaction.

Moreover, these minor requests may quickly pile up and increase your agents’ workload, resulting in ticket fatigue and agent burnout.

Service request management involves building scalable processes that automate routine tasks, prioritize requests, and promote self-service for faster request fulfillment. This leads to better resource allocation, reduced workload on IT staff, and enhanced end user experiences, ultimately minimizing operational disruptions.

In this article, we’ll get into how you can lay the groundwork for such automated and scalable service request systems that make the lives of your employees and agents easier.

What is service request management?

Service request management in the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is defined as streamlining routine service requests that are low-risk, low-impact, and less costly. Unlike incidents where support teams need to act fast due to the severity of the request, service requests are relatively simple but repetitive and hence require a proper framework, so support employees are not burned out, and employee experience is not sacrificed.

For example, think of password reset requests. Forgetting passwords is a common human tendency. However, what's alarming is that these repetitive password reset requests can cost IT teams up to $85K annually.

Many repetitive requests overwhelm and exhaust the internal support team. This is where a solid service request management system comes into play. If you have a built-in system to handle repetitive service requests, be it password reset, payslip download, or laptop replacement, the service desks will have a breathing space as they won’t have to interfere with every request that comes in and can focus on incidents and more critical requests that require immediate attention.

Over the years, ITIL service request management has evolved several times. GenAI integration with service desk solutions is the latest and most significant evolution, strengthening and enhancing them.

What is a service request?

A service request is a formal request or record created by an employee who requests assistance to complete a day-to-day responsibility. Service requests are pre-defined requests where the support team is already aware of the solution.

A service request generally contains:

  • Important information about the issue or its cause, like the name of the requester, the exact challenge that they are facing
  • Its severity, like what would be the possible implications if it is not resolved immediately
  • Time and date of submitting the service request
  • Any other data that could help the support team resolve the issue quickly

Usually, service requests are listed in an organization’s service catalog or knowledge base. Due to their familiarity, service requests don’t significantly impact the overall organizational workflow. If you are using an Enterprise Service Management (ESM) solution, it records service requests as tickets. It helps support teams prioritize them based on their severity, issue resolution date, or any other pre-defined rule.

Service requests can be handled by IT, HR, or finance teams based on the nature of the enquiry. Below are a few examples of some of the most common enterprise service requests from different teams.

Service request examples

IT service requests

  • I am logged out from my Microsoft account, I need a password reset link
  • I need a laptop replacement. My old laptop is not switching on
  • I need Adobe Photoshop installed on my laptop  

HR service requests

  • I need to download my payslip for the last three months
  • I need to re-download my onboarding letter since I lost it
  • I want to apply for a 7-day leave but am unable to do that from the HRMS portal

Finance/legal team service requests

  • I attended a conference recently. How do I put in a reimbursement request for the same?
  • My tax receipt has an error; how can I fix that?
  • An external vendor is enquiring about the status of their payment approval. Where can I track an update?

Key attributes of a service request

An attribute for a request adds more nuances and details to a raised request. Having detailed attributes helps IT teams collect all the required information from employees in one go, avoiding back-and-forth communication. This also means cutting down employee wait times and accelerating resolution times.

Fields like ‘Priority’ and ‘Status’ help IT agents pick the following service request and set expectations right on the employee side.

When an employee submits a service request, here are a few standard attributes that will help agents address the requests effectively.

  • Status of the request: The most common statuses are Pending, Open, and Resolved. However, support admins may add more statuses such as In progress, Hold based on requirements
  • Priority level: Priorities are defined by the possible implications of the request. The default priorities in most IT service management tools are Urgent, High, Medium, and Low
  • Request channel: This varies from one organization to another. Typically, the most common internal service desk channels are emails, Slack, service desk portal, MS, and Teams
  • Assignee: It could be the service desk agent who maybe handling the request or who later routes the request to an appropriate team member based on their past expertise

The above attributes change based on specific use cases. For example, if you are making a service request for a travel expense disbursement, you may add the travel dates as extra fields. Or if it's a laptop replacement request, you need to put details of your existing laptop and the laptop you are demanding.

Service request management process workflow

There are typically six steps to a service request management workflow. While these are not implicit, these are the default stages that a service request goes through from initiation to closure.

Let’s look at how a request progresses within each of these steps with an example.

Suppose Jane needs access to GitHub, and she requests the same. Below are the different stages of the request:

Stage 1: Request initiation

In this stage, the requester must submit a service request by filling out all the necessary fields.

Jane initiates the request by filling out the key attributes mentioned above. She explains when she needs access, her urgency of the request, and what user access she demands.

Below are the details of this request:

Request attribute
Input
Subject
GitHub Access
Description
I need access to GitHub
Priority
Medium
Channel
Slack
Service item
GitHub
Assignee
Ada
Status
Open

Stage 2: Request assessment

In this stage, the assignee assesses the request to ensure that the requester has added all required details. If not, the assignee responds with their queries.

In the next stage, Ada, the assignee, will send Jane follow-up questions on the request. For example, Ada may ask, 'Jane, do you need the Free or Team subscription?' since this was not mentioned in Jane’s request.

Ada now changes the status to 'Pending'.

Jane replies, 'I need Team access, please.' Now that Ada has all the information she requires for the request, the request status is now updated to 'Waiting for approval', which triggers the approval request for Jane’s manager.

Stage 3: Request approval

In this stage, Jane’s manager, Midge, receives an automatic approval request. Midge receives an automated message, 'Hey, Midge, request #232 from Jane Wood needs your approval.' Midge approves the request, and its status becomes “Approved.”

Stage 4: Fulfilment

In this stage, the assignee has all the required details, and it is time to fulfill the request.

Ada now fulfills the request by providing Jane access to GitHub Team and replies in the same thread, 'Done, you have access now, you’d have gotten an email'. Ada again changes the request status to 'Pending'.

Stage 5: Confirmation and closure

In the final stage, the requester confirms the fulfillment of the request, and the assignee marks the request as resolved.

Jane sends confirmation and replies, “Got it, thank you!” Ada now resolves the request and marks its status as 'Resolved'.

Importance of a robust service catalog in request fulfillment

A service catalog is the list of all service requests offered by an organization. It includes details like service category, descriptions, dependencies, and costs (if applicable). A robust service catalog is invaluable for any organization.

Here’s why:

  • The primary goal of a service catalog is for employees to know the services offered, the relevant details they must fill out, and set expectations on how long the requests take to be fulfilled. Cataloging the list of services and embedding the appropriate fields in the service catalog helps accelerate the request fulfillment process.
  • Service catalogs can make it easy for IT teams to automate workflows, approvals, and notifications, speeding up service delivery. They can also give visibility into the most requested services, helping IT teams allocate resources more effectively and plan for future demand.
  • For the management and executive teams, the service catalog is an excellent resource for keeping track of associated service costs, employee experience, and the time needed to solve each query. This could be a significant foundation for better decision-making.

Service request management vs. incident management

Service requests and incidents, though similar, are different in terms of their goals, impacts, and resolution approaches. Accordingly, service request management and incident management are also two different frameworks.

In service request management, the service desk admins provide the solution to a known query, and what matters is the speed of resolving the query. The impact of a service request is rarely severe. Most organizations already have structured workflows to resolve service requests quickly with the least manual interference.

Incidents are unexpected issues with critical impacts on the overall business organization. Suppose the entire organization's server is down, or there is a critical technical issue at the bank, and payroll is not getting transferred on the scheduled date. These are incidents, and incident management aims to resolve these issues as soon as possible to restore things to normal.

Since incidents are sudden, it is hard to match them with past conversations and queries. However, with detailed incident logging and intelligent prioritization, resolving future incidents is much easier.

5 service request management best practices

While ticketing systems are the go-to ways to resolve service requests, the back-and-forth communication makes them lengthy and time-consuming. With a GenAI-powered ESM platform like Atomicwork, businesses empower employees to self-serve routine queries without involving the support admins every time.

Here are a few best practices to keep in mind for faster fulfillment processes.

1. Use an AI assistant to ease request initiation

Advancements in generative AI have made request management more interactive and conversational. Employees can raise and get their requests even resolved within their common collaboration tools like Slack or MS Teams without going into complex portals.

AI assistants like Atom can understand the intent of employee requests easily and serve them with the right request forms. They can also map the input information with key attributes within the request ticket for agents to work on.

Use an AI assistant to create service requests

2. Own an exhaustive service catalog

Create an exhaustive service catalog organized according to IT, finance, and HR departments. This will help employees put the right request in the right place and for the right support admin so it can be resolved faster.

3. Resolve service requests faster with pre-defined workflows

Map service request workflows in advance and configure them within Slack or Teams to remove additional steps and speed resolution process.

For repetitive workflows like GitHub access or PhotoShop access, you can also create automated workflows. For example, if an employee joins the design team, PhotoShop access can be part of their onboarding workflow.

Atomicwork has also built autonomous workflows for common requests like password resets that can be resolved in a few clicks by employees themselves with no forms or agent intervention.

Automate common service request workflows

4. Set up a robust priority matrix

Set up a robust priority matrix, so the support admins know which requests to prioritize first. Assign the proper requests to the rightly skilled agents and initially set SLA expectations with the employees so they don’t have to follow up multiple times.

Implement a service request priority marix

5. Monitor and tweak your request processes

Perfecting the service request management workflow at the first attempt is impossible. IT leaders should rather track its performance regularly and monitor critical metrics like the number of requests (self-served vs. resolved by admins), average request processing time, etc., and tweak the process as needed to make it sustainable.

Measure effectiveness of service request processes

Conclusion

Automation is key while building your service request management systems. Implementing an AI assistant to simplify request management, creating robust workflows, and using a tight priority matrix will help your organization free up support admins’ time and improve the overall employee experience.

With modern ITSM and ESM solutions like Atomicwork, resolving service desk queries hardly takes a few minutes. Speak to our team of experts to see how you can accelerate your request fulfillment processes.

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Frequently asked questions

What is a request in service management?
What is a service request management ITIL 4?
What is the role of service request management?
What is the difference between incident management and service request management?
Does Atomicwork offer service request management capabilities?

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