10 Things to Keep in Mind for Effective Incident Management

In the eyes of your employees, your help desk staff is the go-to for any and all service- and IT-related problems, from freezing apps to slow internet connectivity.

These unplanned events and incidents disrupt normal operations, interfering with productivity and potentially bringing all work to a halt. Similarly, in the eyes of your customers, your customer service function is the go-to for any complaints or issues – from unmet expectations, to faulty products and services offerings.

Handling interruptions and resolving issues via an established process to restore positive service is the goal of incident management.

Tips for how to improve incident management

Optimizing the incident management process speeds up resolution times and improves internal and external customer experiences. Here are 10 things to keep in mind for effective incident case management.

1. Focus on the end user

Your end user—whether it’s a customer or an employee—is king.

Incident case management, then, isn’t so much tech or product support as it is people support. Your customers’ expectations for quick and efficient service and support grow with time and increasingly impact satisfaction and loyalty.

Query your internal and external users to capture their preferences, and use this information to shape your own incident tracking solution.

2. Plan for typical and atypical cases

The best plans result in the best outcomes.

Determine the incident management workflow you’ll implement to handle common incidents and then plan for the unexpected. Create simple scripts to address frequently occurring incidents. Case management software or a ticket tracking system will formalize your processes and allow for easier prioritization, categorization and communication of incidents and incident statuses.

Luckily, there are plenty of knowledge-based resources available to simplify planning, so you won’t have to create something from nothing.

3. Simplify incident reporting and logging

Reporting an incident needs to be a simple operation while still providing your staff with all of the data necessary to address and resolve the issue.

Certainly, an online portal optimized for mobile devices will encourage self-service; it can also be a gateway to your knowledge base and a viewport into issue status. If your staff is logging incidents on your customers’ behalf, ensure they ask for and record pertinent info, including a callback number and specific details about the issue.

4. Categorize all incidents

Either during logging or immediately thereafter, an incident needs to be assigned an intuitive category.

These categories should be customizable in whatever incident tracking software you use. The categorizations will allow you to better identify trends and patterns which can enable incident prevention and resolution efficiencies.

5. Prioritize based on impact

An incident also needs a priority.

To prioritize an incident, start by assessing its potential impact on your business, taking into account the amount of people that could be affected and the potential financial or security implications. A priority matrix is helpful for assigning priority as a numeric value. Prioritizing will help your team determine how urgently a resolution is needed. Open incidents should be addressed in order of priority.

6. Escalate to the right people

Your frontline support team should be able to resolve many or most of the frequently reported incidents without escalating to more experienced (and expensive) support. In the cases that they are unable, their goal should shift to data-gathering, logging the right information to help the next assignee resolve the incident promptly.

7. Communicate incident status frequently

Loss of service or unmet expectations are frustrating to everyone.

Compounding this frustration is a lack of information surrounding the problem and the efforts to remedy. While your team’s focus is likely on fixing the problem, communicating with your customers should be prioritized. Have a communications plan with specific actionable items in place, whether it’s a communications channel for broadcasting known issues or an automatic incident status update email.

Proactively communicate with your customer and be clear about the steps being taken to address their issue, as well as workarounds if available.

8. Automate repetitive tasks

A monitoring system can proactively detect issues and alert your team as well as your customers.

Incident assignments, escalation and communication can all be triggered automatically. The more repetitive tasks that you automate with your case management system, the more time your staff will have to address solving complex problems and ensuring a positive customer experience.

9. Iterate on institutional learnings

The ultimate goal of effective incident management isn’t simply handling incidents and restoring service and experience. Your goal should be to iterate on the processes and learnings from past incidents, implementing successful practices while discarding failed methods. This is how you will optimize your processes to avoid future problems and to become more proactive and efficient in incident resolution.

10. Implement a dynamic case management solution

A dynamic case management solution optimizes incident resolution by empowering your team to work smarter, equipping staff with a single central platform for all their information needs.

A case management solution:

  • Automates repeatable and repetitive processes
  • Manages supporting documents.
  • Equips your employees to track tasks and interactions
  • Provides reporting dashboards to increase transparency, and
  • Helps you identify opportunities for improvement.

Want to compare case management solution vendors?

Forrester Research, Inc. evaluated the 14 most significant software providers in dynamic case management. Download your complimentary copy of the report. Compare vendors and find the right solution for your organization.