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How to Create a Service Catalog that Empowers the Business Consumer

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servicecatalogWarning! The modern day IT department is under siege! Its relevance to today’s millennials and other tech–savvy business consumers is being questioned at every turn. In an age where users expect instant gratification and “anytime, anywhere” access to technology there is no place for an archaic, top-down approach where IT determines how, when and what technology it is willing to provide to its customers. These outmoded, selective controls are leading to the common practice of workers bypassing IT departments entirely in favor of purchasing and utilizing technology solutions on their own accord—undermining both IT’s reputation and relevance in the process.

How, then, does IT reaffirm its role and reassert its importance to its users? Steps must be taken to provide IT services comparable to everyday consumer transactions. Consider the following paradigm: Consumer technology is simple, fast, friendly and readily available anywhere and at any time. More importantly, it is both mobile and engaging. Compare your IT service desk to today’s routine online banking, Google® or Amazon® interactions. What stands out with the latter? They are seamless online experiences. Even as you interact with your banking institution, favorite online search engine and preferred e-commerce company, hundreds of changes to their services likely occur each day, with no impact on the customer experience. Compare this to the average user interactions with corporate IT; the experience is far from “frictionless,” with the number of ITIL-based processes, handoffs, and approvals.

So what do we do now? Scrap IT and let users fend for themselves? No! Let’s analyze how we can modernize the existing tired, top-down process to meet the demands of today’s consumer. Why not implement an IT service catalog? Since consumers expect IT to be committed to modern service, a service catalog that goes beyond simply allowing users to submit requests to the service desk is the ideal vehicle to demonstrate that commitment. Take the time to evaluate the service catalog’s makeup, the target audience, processes, and suppliers. Be sure they work together to deliver outcomes that are valued by the business and make sense to your business consumer. Properly implemented, you can demonstrate transparency into what IT actually offers, showing the value and critical role of IT within the business.

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1. Help Your Customers Make Informed Decisions

The key to an effective, user-friendly service catalog is careful preparation. Take the time to analyze your business consumers. What do they need to be productive and, more importantly, what do they want? Then, build your catalog so that the services are presented with enough information that users can easily make informed decisions based on the service descriptions, SLAs, contact details, product or service images and delivery information provided. Help your customers make educated decisions and independently obtain the services that they need.

2. Include All Relevant Services Needed to Complete a Transaction

As you make primary services available, any ancillary or related services need to receive equal consideration. They must also be relevant and easy to access. Review your products and consider what other services they might engender. Is a smart phone one of your items? What additional products or services might be related to its care, protection or use? Why not include voice and data service options? What good is a cell phone without a service provider? Carefully select your providers, and offer these as additional, but related services. What about screen protectors or an unbreakable protective case? Pair your products with both their potential uses and your consumer’s wants and needs. Be creative. Be their one-stop shop!

3. Support your Customers’ Need for a Friendly and Mobile Interface

Consider the media and method of presentation. Interface and usability are critical to the success of the modern service catalog. Whether accessed from a desktop, laptop, tablet or smart phone, the catalog should have an appealing and consistent look. The most important services should be emphasized and immediately apparent. Your customer’s search for services or help should be a simple and user-friendly process. If you make it too difficult, it will not be used.

4. Personalize your Customer’s Experience

Undoubtedly, the service catalog can be a business travelers’ best friend. To make your business consumer’s experience even better, customize the experience as much as possible. For example, knowing your user’s location allows you to automatically personalize services based on where they are located. If the user has traveled from the Chicago office the Dallas office and needs to reserve a conference room, the listing of available rooms should be representative of their current location. Leverage modern technology to make work life easier.

Substituting Satisfaction for Frustration Through Innovation

The opportunities to make your service catalog invaluable to your consumers are limited only by your own ability to innovate. As IT continues to struggle against the avalanche of requests and technological advances, the service catalog can offer a viable, user-friendly alternative to traditional frustrations of the service desk. Done right, it will help to re-establish the relevance of the IT department within the business paradigm now and in years to come.