For your internal customers, submitting a request to IT may be analogous to the story of The Lady or the Tiger (I’ll leave it to your imagination to figure out which of your service areas is the Lady, and which is the Tiger!).
Although most customers are increasingly tech savvy and may be leading the introduction of disruptive technologies within your organization, they may still not be able to determine whether they are faced with an incident (i.e. something is broken), a service request (i.e. a small change to an existing service) or a project – this is especially true if you have not come up with consistent, objective definitions for these different types of requests.
This confusion is perfectly natural – when you visit your car mechanic to complain about a rattling noise, you won’t usually know whether it is related to a factory recall, a minor maintenance issue or a major replacement.
The difference is that most customer service models provide a single entry point for requests and expect their skilled service staff will help the customer get a better understanding of what they are asking for. This reduces confusion for customers, helps to reduce the incidence of stealth projects and provides a single process for control and measurement purposes.
This is not to say that your requests should all be tracked and managed in the same fashion – the people, processes and tools should differ depending on the nature of the request. The entry point should be the same – whether that is a paper or online form, a phone number or an e-mail address. Once a request has been received and assessed, further handling of the request should be performed by the most appropriate process.
Beyond improving the work intake process, this will also improve the process of providing status updates to your customer. If the original work request is periodically refreshed with status updates, the customer will benefit from “one stop shopping” to know what’s going on.
The best way to avoid subjecting your customers to the tiger is to lock its door.