Service management is an ongoing challenge. However, according to Don Page of Marval Software, there are 10 common mistakes that you can fix quickly to forge major improvements.

As most service desk professionals know, working at a service desk is not easy. In fact, it can be extremely challenging, frustrating and difficult. Most analysts have to deal with an excessive workload, while managing incoming customers’ requests and trying to keep up with deadlines and service level agreements. Unless a well-established and proven process is in place, making mistakes is inevitable – and only human.

Here are ten common mistakes in service management that can easily be avoided:

1. Making quick assumptions. When the clock is ticking, and the customer is demanding a rapid solution, jumping to conclusions might seem a good idea. Well, it’s not. A quick assumption might be wrong and result in additional time for closing the request; plus, a dissatisfied customer.

2. Not collecting all the facts. There are pieces of information which are absolutely crucial for handling a request effectively; and they won’t always be the obvious ones. That’s why it is important to collect all the facts from the customer, even if they don’t seem relevant at the beginning.

3. Being supplied with inaccurate or incomplete information. Customers usually provide a description of the issue as they perceive it. In most cases, though, the customers are not experts; it’s up to the analyst to guide the customer with the correct set of questions and make sure the information collected is accurate and adequate.

4. Not properly evaluating or reproducing the situation. Try to look at the big picture. Step up and take an overview of the issue and check whether it could affect other areas of the organisation.

5. Accepting pressure to deliver now. Either from customers or from the business, the front-line staff are under pressure to provide a solution as soon as possible. As we all appreciate, though, not all issues can be resolved immediately; and this is hardly the analyst’s fault. Accepting pressure to deliver fast can lead to more mistakes – and more unhappy customers.

6. Agreeing a timeframe without fully understanding the issue, the potential impact, risks or the resources required. Before raising the customers’ expectations (and risk further disappointment), we need to make sure we have a clear understanding of the case and what’s involved.

7. Not escalating a request early enough. There’s a point where a request has to be escalated; either because it requires the involvement of a specialist, or because it suggests that the scale of the issue is bigger than initially estimated; or just because the customer has an attitude that requires your manager’s assistance to address. Make sure you escalate things when you feel you need help, even if it might seem very early in the process.

8. Trying to fix things beyond our skill set. Not everyone is an expert in everything; most of us have specific skill sets. Trying to fix things beyond our skill set will probably result in delays and wasting of productive time.

9. Not involving the right people. While not everyone is an expert in everything, there will be members in the team that are real specialists in particular fields. These valuable resources should be used when required to help accelerate responding to requests.

10. Not keeping the customer informed. Customers want to know that someone is working on their case. They need to rest assured that their request has not been missed, forgotten or ignored. Even if the team is working on the issue, unless the customer is being properly and promptly informed, they might get frustrated.

These common mistakes can be avoided, with the right tools and processes in place. Analysts can take off the pressure and ensure that requests will be handled according to the corporate process and within pre-defined service level agreements. And the service desk manager can be confident that customers have the right expectations and that their teams are fully engaged and motivated to deliver great service.

Guest post by:
Dr Don Page

Don Page

Director of IT Service Management, Marval Group

As Director of IT Service Management in the Marval Group, Dr Don Page, known as “The God Father of ITIL”, with his straight-talking, pragmatic and innovative approaches to service improvement have made him a world-renowned and respected industry figure. Don has been responsible for the design and implementation of some of Europe’s largest Service and Support operations.
Don has been responsible for co-authoring several major service management publications, including:-

• ISO/IEC 20000 (Worldwide Standard for IT Service Management)
• ITIL (worldwide Good Practice guidance in IT Service Management)
• BS15000 (British Standard for IT Service Management)
• Service Desk Institute (SDI) Best practice guidance
• The world’s first “Master’s degree in IT Service Management”

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