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ITIL Service Management – or how to deal with customers who say: "I want – I want – I want…"

I had a brain wave yesterday… (!) All of a sudden it dawned on me that a ‘want’  is not the same as a ‘need’… It is quite OK to have ‘wants’ as long as you understand that you can easily live without any of them. (Although a friend of mine commented that ‘wants’ are really ‘needs’ at some level, which I thought was really funny!)

So what does this mean for Level Management?
Well, we all know that we need to discuss with our customers what their needs are and when you read the books there is a differentiation between stated needs and natural needs. Needs are important when we discuss the Services and Service Levels with our customers. When we discuss new services with the customer we need to find out the Needs and needs levels, in other words: Service Requirements, of the customer for this service.  But, if Service Requirements Statements are about the customer’s needs, then why do we so often end up debating the customers ‘wants’?

Do you really NEED 100% availability of your email capability? Or is that a WANT?
How critical is this IT Service for the continuity of your processes?

For some clients the answer to this question is: “It is 100% mission critical. All our business processes start with an email”. Well, in that case you talk about a NEED. But I’d like to argue that in most cases email capability is a WANT and not so much a NEED. We can still sell without email… we can send faxes or, hang on – this is a novel idea: call people on the phone and meet them in person!! (Yes, again – not possible for some organizations, but very true for most…)

Don’t get me wrong… I have nothing against WANTS. After all, I am a girl who loves to shop 😉 But it has to be clear to both IT supplier and customer that we are discussing WANTS and not NEEDS, and that additional WANTS have a pricetag. Especially when it interacts with the mission critical services and systems.

Maybe we could re-write the ITIL books! Rather than talking about a business Service Catalogue and a Technical Service Catalogue, we need to develop a NEEDS catalogue and a WANTS/ Nice to have’s Catalogue.

Do you think that would make it easier for the average Service Catalogue Manager and Service Level Manager out there??

0 thoughts on “ITIL Service Management – or how to deal with customers who say: "I want – I want – I want…"”

  1. Too true. But every ‘need’ has a pricetag as well as every ‘want’. We just have to find out what it is.

    Part of the problems with customers using this kind of language is a symptom of a skewed perception of IT in the first place – either as just a cost/a constraint, or as a difficult support team who argue the priority of everything so that ‘we’ (the customer) have to exaggerate to get our requirements accepted.

    I’m not sure a ‘wants’ catalogue is a perfect solution … it sounds too much like the dreaded “IT backlog”. But definitely part of the solution is requirements analysis and negotiation, not just receiving or gathering requirements. I wrote something about this recently.

    1. You are quite right – and we have to be careful that Service Delivery doesn’t turn into a system where the loudest screamer gets what they want. It is frustrating when the customer feels that everything they want is ‘poo-poo-ed’.
      The other process that is important in combination with Service Level Management and Service Catalogue Management, is DEMAND Management. This process is important to understand the true (and changing) needs and wants of the customers to give the IT department the knowledge to respond to those request appropriately. I wrote a blog about this process, let me know what you think!