Service catalogs are a great tool to provide an overview of the services you offer as an IT department. There are three main benefits: you create transparent expectations for your customers, you’re better able to explain to management what you’re spending your time on, and it vastly improves your potential to deliver good self-service.
For years, I’ve been a part of a team that helps organizations implement better service catalogs. I’m hoping to offer a quick guide here on how to achieve service catalog success with a step-by-step approach I’ve developed based on how we work on service catalog implementations and optimization.
If you already have a service catalog, please feel free to skip ahead to steps 2, 3 or 4, depending on which strategy best fits your organization. Otherwise, perhaps the following in its entirety can help you achieve your optimization goals.
Before You Begin
When talking about our approach to service catalogs, I frequently hear a response something like, “That would be a huge project!” Actually, creating a service catalog is not too much work. Just remember to keep things simple. This means not wasting time on creating a perfect on-paper catalog.
The easiest way to start is to focus on your sweet spot. How? Consider the 80/20 rule. Find out what services you deliver that take up 80% of your time. With your team, look at monthly reporting. What categories come up the most? Or even just sit down and discuss the services you think to be the most used services. By finding out what works best within your organization, you can make gradual improvements.
Also, provide proper clarity amongst the team that is working on it. Does the team have a shared understanding of what they want to achieve? Do they even have the same definition of what is a service? ITIL defines a service as enabling value co-creation by facilitating outcomes that customers want to achieve, without the customer having to manage specific costs and risks. From my perspective, a service means delivering value to your customer with a combination of people, processes, and assets. We all have our own definition.
Ensure that there’s some common ground and group understanding, or you’ll find inconsistency later—or even barriers coming up simply because of lack of understanding. This only creates further confusion for users.
A good practice is to launch your service catalog when it’s about 80% ready. You’ll realize you’ve reached this point when you know the most commonly asked questions. You understand how to engage with a service, how to request it, and how to report it. And, throughout the process you will have keenly listened to your customer feedback and made adjustments accordingly. That’s when you’ll know that you’re 80% ready.
Step 1: Compile the Service Catalog
Before setting up the service catalog, you’ve got to establish who is responsible for which tasks within the service catalog. Identify who’s responsible for editing and publishing services, for example, who the project manager is, and who your stakeholders are.
Next, map out the services you provide, the services your end users will request, and the services they need the most. Be sure to outline all services provided. Tackle this task through collaboration with team members and some hand-selected users.
Also, take this opportunity to map services that underpin those that are customer facing. In the world of IT, there are many services in place in the background keeping everything running. The customers may never see them, but they are essential as is understanding the relationships of how the front-end and back-end services are connected.
Collaboration is critical to the success of your catalog launch. Your team are experts in technical details, and your users can help make sure that descriptions are easy to understand without expert explanation.
Users can be included in the arrangement of your service catalog, too. There’s no such thing as the perfect structure, so go with whatever design works best for everyone. Make adjustments along the way to ensure the best overall experience for your user base.
Step 2: Measure and Check to Map
Next is figuring what a successful catalog means to you. For example, does it include all services listed or is the overall experience more about providing a quality user experience?
It’s important to critically check how your customers rate your services and if you’re delivering the services as agreed. This is the phase in which you determine if you are on the right track.
You can measure some of your success with service level agreements (SLAs). For example, are your response and processing times meeting expectations. However, meeting your SLAs won’t guarantee that you’re making your users happy, which is why you need to measure user experience.
Meeting your SLAs won’t guarantee that you’re making your users happy.
Step 3: Meet Supply and Demand
At this point, your service catalog should be fully operational. Additionally, you likely have an idea of the quality of the service you provide. This doesn’t mean you need to stop asking questions so as to improve offerings.
Continue to evaluate how you provide services to meet your users’ needs. Is your supplied offering satisfying user demand? Are you spending time and money on providing the latest apps, only to find out your customers hardly care (or use them)? You might learn they just want decent Wi-Fi service in every room, and that’s not being taken care of.
Ask your users what they want you to focus on. As is often the case, IT departments make assumptions about the services users think they should provide, but those assumptions need to be checked and verified. The best way to measure this is to check with users. Ask them which services they need.
Step 4: Map Your Services with Customer Journeys
Up next is determining what else you can improve. Take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Instead of focusing on specific services, start working on improving your users’ whole journey.
For one simple call to the IT service desk, your user might talk to several service desk agents or go through a variety of channels ranging from the self-service portal to emails and phone calls.
Map communications for the user journey. To do so, place yourself in your users’ shoes and ask how the user experience fits into the service provided.
Whatever your findings show, ask users for feedback. This will ensure that you’re on the right path as they always are the best source to help you determine whether you’ve forgotten any interactions or processes that may impact them. In doing so, you may find that some users no longer call the service desk because of a bad experience. Determining the exact cause or friction means you’re able to address the problem.
When you determine what makes users stop interacting with the service desk, you’re able to deal with issues at their core. Perhaps you’re even able to entice these people back. Feedback on your customer journey provides valuable insight into your service delivery and your department’s image. Use it.
Sumit De is head of consultancy at TOPdesk UK. For several years, Sumit has worked with organizations around the world to design and implement service delivery and digital transformation strategies for the modern day. His current role means leading an ever-growing professional services team. Sumit’s future work includes customer empowerment through technology and helping organizations define their new normal.