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ITIL Request Fulfillment: a quick win for customer satisfaction

Service Desk interacts with customers mostly through several key processes. Incident Management is about quickly restoring service to the Customer. Problem Management deals with underlying causes of one or more incidents. Change Management processes more or less complicated changes to the IT infrastructure.

Other than that, most Service Desk communication with the customer is made up of various simple requests: password reset, preapproved software installation, various access requests or workstation installations and account creations for new users. In practice, it is so frequent that it has been recognized as a separate process in ITIL V3 Operation stage as 4.3 Request Fulfillment. In ISO 20000 it is described as part of 8. Resolution processes aside the Incident management as Service Request management.

This is how ITIL 2011 defines a service request: a service request is a formal request from a user for something to be provided – for example, a request for information or advice: to reset a password or to install a workstation for a new user. Service requests are managed by the request fulfillment process, usually in conjunction with the Service Desk. Service requests can be linked to a request for change as part of fulfilling requests.


The Request fulfillment process manages all user service requests throughout their lifecycles.

Professional and efficient handling of service requests greatly helps manage user satisfaction, since it is a highly visible and frequent process. If a nervous customer waits a few hours for his password reset, there is not much you can do through other fancy processes to elevate his/her satisfaction.

Providing info to a customer about existing available services and the way to get them makes a Service Desk more efficient. It facilitates a channel for users to request and receive standard services through a process of defined authorization and realization. Implementation of a simple self-help tool can do wonders here and take some of the pressure off the Service Desk. The customer can select services he needs (e.g. installation of preapproved SW to his workstation) and he will be notified after the request completion.

Through the Request fulfillment process the Service Desk is equipped to better handle general information provision, and to deal with customer complaints. If Service Desk operators are equipped with tools to retrieve information and knowledge quickly, then answering questions “How do I…?” and “What do I do to…?” quickly is effortless and a pleasurable experience for both the operator and the customer.

How to deal with requests

Large organizations have a high frequency of service requests, so it is recommended for them to establish a completely separate process stream for them.

Small and mid-size business organizations can usually get away with handling service requests through the Incident management process under the “different category” or “other flagged ticket” field. ISO 20000 recommends similar rules of recording closure of incidents and service requests anyhow.


It depends on the organization’s ticketing tool, the level of process automation and the depth of integration with other processes (Change management, Financial management…).

I know some organizations handle certain requests through the simple Change management process: access management, new accounts, and new workstation installation requests. Other requests are often processed through Incident Management tickets under a separate category: password reset, request for info, etc.

It’s all OK if you can provide consistent reporting on these activities to the management and your ISO 20000 auditor.

What matters is to bring value to the business through request management, providing no-bottleneck access to standard services, reducing bureaucracy and increasing the level of control.

Take care it doesn’t go wrong

Request fulfillment usually defines different SLA parameters than Incident management. The Service Desk has to have them clearly defined. Providing VPN access to a contractor is often defined by the time of approval and expiry time. Miss them, and you are guaranteed to receive a customer complaint.

Request management is a critical point of communication with the customer; hence, the handling of requests plays a major role in defining customer satisfaction.

It is also very important that the Service Desk is properly informed on the security aspects of service availability:

  • Who can gain access to what, and when.
  • What services are available to which customers.
  • Licensing constraints of preapproved applications.

Also, critical points in process definitions include:

  • What process is responsible for which requests.
  • Self-help tools integration.
  • Costs, their allocation and approval for service requests requiring the engagement of specific resources and configuration items.


The main thing is keeping the main thing the main thing: in most organizations, Request fulfillment requires significant communication bandwidth with the customers. Fulfilling these requests in a timely and professional manner does great things in improving your customer satisfaction and mutual understanding between IT and the customer. And that’s what IT Service management is mostly about.