IT service management may celebrate its successes internally, but the wider business often fails to notice the importance of what is happening. Simon Johnson of Freshworks explains why you should be marketing ITSM to secure further investment and the support IT needs to ensure its efforts are worthwhile. 


Implementing new ITSM projects can be very fulfilling. We see teams sharing their successes and celebrations when new projects go live – everything from teams getting cakes or going out for meals together are commonplace. However, like the first film of a series, the challenge only gets bigger in the future. What was the unsurmountable problem in film #1 turns out to be only the start of the challenge, and our heroes have to start again.

For ITSM teams, projects like deploying new self-service channels or online portals for users can be labours of love. But getting your users onto new services can lead to just as many issues. Like film producers, it’s time to turn to marketing.

Looking at a marketing model
Marketing might not seem like it has a huge amount of overlap with IT service management. However, it’s a good idea to look at how marketers create demand for new products or services, then apply some of those same steps to your new ITSM services.

One marketing model that can be applied here is AARRR: Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral and Revenue:

  • Acquisition covers the initial awareness phase – do people know that your product or service exists, and how they can use it?
  • Activation covers how people first use the service – do they use a product at least one?
  • Retention covers how to get people using the product or service more than once – do they get value from it over time, and does it become a regular activity for them?
  • Referral covers how people can recommend the product or service to others – can they be encouraged to share their thoughts, or bring others into the product?
  • Revenue covers how the company makes profit from providing the service and growing its use – this can be tracked through tools like Net Promoter Score

For ITSM teams looking at marketing and growing awareness, it’s worth looking at how to take people through those stages of awareness and use through to becoming embedded into everyday life. These projects have to become habits for users.

Marketing the service desk
For new self-service portals, looking at AARRR involves making users across the business aware that the portal is live and open for them to use. However, it’s not enough to send out a single email and then wait for a change in behaviour to take place. Instead, this has to be reinforced over time. Acquiring users has to be viewed as an ongoing campaign that has to be supported over time.

There will normally be early adopters that are interested in trialling new services that can help them, so working with these users can help both iron out any problems and provide some useful data too. Publishing this data on how quickly requests are being handled via self-service compared to other channels can then help entice others on to the self-service portal so they can see the same benefits as well.

This can also be a good opportunity to collaborate with your own marketing team on the results. These kinds of internal communications can provide marketing with opportunities to reinforce the company’s brand and values. Moreover, marketers should have good ideas for acquiring users and telling their stories. This kind of collaboration can help reinforce that behavioural change requirement around self-service.

What’s more, bringing in the marketing team can help run awareness campaigns across more communication channels. Marketing can help you design any collateral or promotional content that you use so that it matches the brand image. This can also include providing input on the design of the self-service portal to match the brand website too. Collaborating in this way makes IT feel more of a part of the organisation. Over time, simple things like updating email footers with appropriate links and metrics can demonstrate how a new service can benefit users, but also get this shared more often.

For ITSM managers, being able to prove that new services are following their predicted rate of returns can be powerful.

Once the initial launch has taken place, it’s important to look at how to reactivate users over time. Rather than a consumer product that people want to buy, users will come to the ITSM team when they have a problem. Encouraging users to choose self-service for their next request will involve reminding them that this option exists periodically and how it can save them time and hassle. This can include running competitions for those that are happy to share their stories or feedback, or using gamification to encourage specific actions.

Revenue is not an exact fit for ITSM – after all, these projects aim to save money rather than make it – so instead look at the financial returns that can be delivered with better service. Most IT projects will require Return on Investment and Total Cost of Ownership models to justify investment. Using data to demonstrate that these goals have been met can be very powerful when future budget requests are put in.

Marketing ITSM internally
Metrics can be powerful marketing tools internally. Alongside making users aware of new service options, it’s worth looking at how to share information on the results for the business as a whole.

It’s worth looking for simple measures that can show improvements and that can be understood by users. For example, providing an overall number of tickets dealt with during a month might be great for the service desk team, but not be impressive for users. Similarly, a percentage breakdown of self-service usage is useful for the ITSM team, but not for others within the business.

Looking at times to solve problems and customer satisfaction scores alongside each other will be more appropriate, as these metrics describe what end-users care about the most. If you can show that service is improving – and your users feel that services are improving too – then you can use these statistics to support your case. The marketing team may also want to use these results as a proof point if customer service is a brand value.

For ITSM managers, being able to prove that new services are following their predicted rate of returns can be powerful. Establishing that internal IT projects do deliver on their stated goals can help secure investment for the next project, whether that be continued developments of existing ITSM implementations and processes or new moves into technologies like AI and chatbots.

What is important here is that ITSM teams have to sell themselves and their achievements to the rest of the business. While blowing your own trumpet might seem anathema to some in IT, the value from marketing your achievements internally comes from getting the right support as and when you need it. Other departments might benefit from the data that ITSM projects create too.

Just like the film heroes at the start of their next journey, ITSM teams will have to pick themselves up and enter the fray again. Only this time, you can add even more value back to the business.

Guest post by:
Simon Johnson, Freshworks

Simon Johnson

General Manager UK, Freshworks

Simon is General Manager UKI at Freshworks. He leads operations including developing the company’s own sales and support teams. Freshworks provides ITSM, helpdesk and CRM products to more than 120,000 companies worldwide.

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