Should you communicate via a Problem to the customer?

Discussion on issues related directly or largely to ITIL problem management.
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Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2019 11:08 am

Wed Jun 19, 2019 7:48 am

I raised a similar ticket back a few weeks ago and received a great response so I've posted again

I think the title says it all but for reference:

At my work, they have had a major growth in the past 5 years and implemented ITIL Unfortunately, this was implemented by people who wasn't thinking about the growth and was fairly new to ITIL. They did a great job none the less.
Now they are at a stage that the process has holes and I have identified that they do not run the core parts of ITIL (or what I believe is core) efficiently if at all. So now I am reviewing alongside a Problem Manager, to make sure it works for the company and further growth.

They do not do problems very well and they do most RCA via incidents which I am slowly changing.

Now, I believe that Problems should be solely dedicated to root cause analysis and so forth. Not to directly communicate with customers. Although when the PRB is closed, to update the Incidents or send a customer a report on the findings/fix (if needed).
I believe that Incidents and Requests should be dedicated for this communication and if a customer is requiring updates then we should provide a PRB reference for them to raise an information request about.

Unfortunately, with a push from the customer service team, they want to allow customers to communicate directly with a PRB ticket. I do not think this would work as most problems are global and could affect multiple customers. Not only this, most ITSM tools do no have this OOB so therefore would require customisation. I do not think it would be best practice and I think that the engineers (who are usually specialist or higher tiered engineers) shouldn't be spending time communicating but analysing.

So my question is, do you think you should run communication to customers via PRBs?
If not, how do you go about managing this? (My idea is to link INCs with PRBs and send an email at the end (if needed) and to provide customer PRB references so they can use this to chase if needed).

Thank you so much ITILCommunity!

Posts: 13
Joined: Mon May 20, 2019 3:58 am

Wed Jun 19, 2019 9:38 am

Hello there,

as far as I can remember the Problem mgmt should be manager inside the IT department, as it's not a way to restore a service back to normal operation, but finding, and possibly solving, the cause of one or more incidents.
The single point of contact with the users should be the service desk, who manages Incidents and Service Requests, not problems
-->So the answer is NO ^^
Senior Itiler
Senior Itiler
Posts: 31
Joined: Fri Apr 05, 2019 10:25 am

Thu Jun 20, 2019 7:05 am

So, here are my thoughts about this question. As with most things ITSM, "it depends".

For most Problems, communication to the user community should be done via the Service Desk. I agree that the problem-solvers should focus on solving the problem, but periodically update the problem record so that the Service Desk can update the user community. Of course, the user community will continue to provide feedback/report incidents while the problem is being resolved - ideally, there will already be a "known error" record raised so that such incident reports can be resolved via the known error; there is also no reason why specific user comments cannot be captured in those incident records so that those working on the problem can be aware of these comments.

Having said all of that, your question is in regards to the customer - the person or group that defines the requirements for a service and takes responsibility for the outcomes of service consumption (ITIL 4 definition). (Remember, one of the values of an ITSM implementation based on ITIL is that we have a common vocabulary!) In that case, I would suggest that someone take on the role of service relationship manager - whether that is a senior leader in IT or a formally-defined position - to provide the customer with direct (in-person) periodic updates. One - it provides direct communication to these critical stakeholders. Two - it enhances the reputation of the IT organization - IT is treating the customer as a customer. And three - it enhances the relationship between IT and its customers.
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