In my previous post I explained how to approach building and maintaining your service catalogue in an agile way. This time, I’ll dive into the question: How do you apply the Agile principle of ‘working software over comprehensive documentation’ to improve your service catalogue?

Thicker than a Sears catalogue

The traditional approach to developing a service catalogue is to create and publish a document listing all services your department or organisation offers. When thinking of a catalogue, I personally think back to the days before the Internet, when companies like Sears or JCPenney would publish thick product catalogues every year. These catalogues presented customers with a ‘call-to-action’ by offering them the option of ordering products right away. All you needed to do was cut out and mail the order form included in the catalogue.

Digitize your service catalogue

Nowadays, a service catalogue is so much more than a PDF stored somewhere on your network – or at least, it should be. In their personal lives, your customers have grown accustomed to the comforts of online shopping, and have come to expect similar online convenience in their professional environment. Failing to meet those standards might hurt your customer satisfaction scores.

For service providers, digital service catalogues are becoming the new norm. These are not direct translations of the traditional print or PDF catalogues – they require a different approach and offer more possibilities. Digital service catalogues allow for a more agile approach to creating and developing your catalogue. Instead of striving towards a fully comprehensive description of all your services, you quickly publish a first version of your catalogue, and expand and improve it based on the feedback you get. In other words: ‘working software over comprehensive documentation’.

These are the 4 main criteria for creating a successful digital service catalogue.

How do you handle requests for services not in your service catalogue?

1. Provide valuable information – or link to it

The primary objective of any service catalogue is to provide information that’s valuable for your customers. It contains an overview of the products and services you offer, as well as any additional conditions. In a digital portal, you can expand upon this information. You can for instance link to documentation, FAQs or video tutorials. A digital portal also allows your customers to check the status of their call or track & trace their order.

2. Use the portal to centralize your communication

A digital service catalogue is more than just an information platform. When published in a self-service portal, a service catalogue facilitates two-way communication. The self-service portal is a place to centralize all your communication concerning a service. For instance, if a customer orders a new laptop, you have all the communication with the customer and supplier in one place. The service catalogue serves as a central point for all necessary information and communication, so that information is no longer divided across emails inboxes or other channels.

3. Facilitate orders and requests

Like with the old Sears or JCPenney catalogues, your customers should be able to order the services in your online service catalogue. These transactions should take place within the service catalogue platform. The digital portal should offer customers the option of requesting products or services or make calls directly, without having to direct them to other platforms or channels.

A digital service catalogue is more than just an information platform. When published in a self-service portal, a service catalogue facilitates two-way communication.

4. Ask your customers for feedback

Finally, the digital portal should include a way for your customers to voice their opinion. Are they satisfied with your services? If not, what would they like to see improved? You could enable your customers to rate your services, for instance. Or indicate whether they find your knowledge item on a certain service to be helpful or not. This feedback informs you on what next steps to take to improve or expand your service catalogue.