Incident management is front and center of your IT service provider offering. Done well, effective triaging can speed up incident resolution times, make life easier for technicians, and improve customer satisfaction. To help, here are five questions for your IT service desk to ask itself when you’re reviewing your incident categorization approach.
Question #1: How can we make it easy for customers?
When looking at how you categorize incidents always keep your customers in mind. The average end user doesn't want to have to select from lots of complicated menus – they just want to log their issue by stating what’s wrong, what service/system is affected, and how urgent it is.
We’ve seen models where the person has to go down four levels before a single ticket can be logged which is just painful all round. Aim to make your incident capture form as straightforward and achievable in as few clicks as possible.
Question #2: How can we make it easy for support teams?
Another question to ask yourself is how to make life easier for support teams. Can first-line support analysts have guidelines on the questions to ask such that the right information gets captured consistently? Can the incident form be templated so that some information can be pre populated saving time? Also, ask for feedback from onward support.
Things to consider include:
- Is the right information being captured?
- Are we making first-line capture “too much information” at the point of contact? Is all of the information asked for actually being used?
- Can second-line support provide feedback to the IT service desk on the information that has been captured?
Question #3: How does this support SLAs?
A key part of any service level agreement (SLA) is to ensure that the right levels of service are being delivered. Effective incident categorization can give service levels a real boost by making it easier for service level managers to understand how an organization is performing month on month.
Done well incident categorization can show how quickly an IT department is:
- Resolving high priority incidents
- Managing incidents by location
- Fixing incidents by affected product or service.
If you get how you label incidents right, it means that you can highlight any trends quickly and easily come month-end reporting time. Another thing to consider is how operational level agreements (OLAs) and underpinning contracts are worded and ensuring that the service names are used consistently to prevent any confusion. Most folks know that “Outlook” or “Gmail” are email products/services, but it only takes one person on a delivery team to get mixed up and you could have incidents being lost or misrouted.
Question #4: Can this link into other areas?
The likely reality is that you’ll need to be able to report on frequently occurring incidents to support and promote problem management. We’ve mentioned basic trending to support month end review meetings, but problem management goes much further than that.
The main way that problem management achieves its objectives is by trending incidents to look at frequently occurring issues. Without effective categorization or labeling, it can be an utter nightmare – a needle in a haystack situation. Problem managers can potentially be looking at thousands of incidents over a month so anything that can help them quickly identify trends can only be a good thing.
Common items to trend on include:
- Service or product affected
- Business unit or customer affected
Tip #5: Is there an opportunity for self-service?
If you have strong categorization in place, then you have the potential for self-service. And if you’re not currently offering self-service, why not? We all know that outside of work, if we need the answer to something, we’ll Google it – so let’s level up.
Having solid incident categories means that it’s easier to create models and templates such that all the customer has to do is type in their keyword and be linked to related self-help articles, FAQs, and incident or service request forms – taking the pain out of self-help. What’s not to love?
So that’s five questions we’d ask when looking at your approach to incident categorization. What would you add to this? Please let us know in the comments.