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How to avoid unsatisfied customers by managing problems and incidents according to ISO 20000

As you can imagine, it is an absolute truth that there is no perfect service, and an anomaly always arises that prevents us from providing the service properly. At this point it is important to note that if we have committed contractually with our customer to offer a quality service (Service Level Agreements), we have to fulfill our obligations, because otherwise we will lose money.

And of course, if there is any failure during the service, our mission is to manage and treat it to get everything back to normal.

The ISO 20000 has a group of processes that helps us manage any anomalies that may arise. This group is called Resolution Processes, and consists of the two processes shown below:

Incident and Service Request Management

An incident occurs when an event takes place that can involve a failure in service. For this anomaly we must first register the incident, and then we have to keep track of its treatment and resolution. For the recording of incidents it is advisable to use a software tool to help us store and keep track of the incidents. This tool will save information about the incidents and the actions that have been carried out to correct them; therefore, we can also use it as a knowledge base, so that if in the future there is an incident that has already been solved in the past, we can consult our knowledge base and treat it more easily.

At this point, it is very important to remember that we have to respond to the customer as soon as possible according to the agreements and procedures, and we must communicate to our customer any changes occurring in the state of the incident. Further, when we have resolved the incident, we need to confirm to our customer that everything is correct. To understand this process, let´s look at an example: A customer calls because he cannot access our website. Then, we need to register the incident and tell the customer that the problem has been due to a temporary error and it will be resolved shortly.  When we solve the incident, all the information generated will be stored in our knowledge base, so if this incident happens again, we will have information about what happened and how it was resolved. After resolving the incident, we will close it and we will confirm to the client that everything is solved.

Problem Management

A problem also occurs when an event takes place that can involve an abnormality in the service. Here we also must register the problem, and afterward we have to keep track of its resolution and treatment; but, in this case we need to define preventive actions so that the event does not happen again in the future.  The problems can also be stored and treated in the same tool we use for the incidents, but the tool must allow us to differentiate between incidents and problems. Therefore, in this case we also have a knowledge base, which we can use to find information about problems that have been resolved in the past.

Resolving a problem usually involves making changes, so this process is closely related with the Change Management Process.  Now let´s see a brief example: The website is down; therefore, we need to study the origin of the problem and resolve it so that this does not happen again in the future. One cause could be that the web server has run out of space on the hard disk; then we would have to buy more disks and oversize the system to prevent this happening again. All information is saved in our knowledge base, and the change of hard disk will be managed through the Change Management Process.

Similarities and Differences

As we can see, both processes are very similar. The main difference is that the Incident Management mainly logs the event, and we need inform the client at all times regarding the state of treatment or resolution of the incident. However, the Problem Management Process corrects the problem and analyzes the causes of the event, to keep it from happening again.

But, on the other hand, both processes can share the software tool to manage incidents/problems and store a knowledge base.

I hope that after learning a little about these two processes, when you have a problem with your service, you know how to manage it! It is very important that you have in mind the difference between incidents and problems. Here is a basic understanding of both: An incident is when you need to give feedback quickly to the customer about an event (respecting the times contractually agreed). A problem is when you need to analyze the event and solve it to prevent it happening again in the future!

You can also check out free samples of  Problem Management Process templates to gain more knowledge.

Advisera Antonio Jose Segovia
Antonio Jose Segovia
Antonio Jose Segovia is an IT Engineer, and he has many professional certifications in the IT sector. He is also ISO 27001 IRCA and Lead Auditor qualified by BUREAU VERITAS in ISO 27001, ISO 20000, ISO 22301, ISO 27018, GDPR, and TISAX, as well as being an expert in information security, an ethical hacker, and a university professor in an online Master of Information Security program. With more than 10 years of experience in the IT sector, he has visited companies of all kinds in Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, United Kingdom, USA, Chile, Peru, and Costa Rica.