Five Principles for Creating a Customer Centric Service Portal and Catalog: Part 1

Thought Leadership for
IT Service Management Professionals

Five Principles for Creating a Customer Centric Service Portal and Catalog: Part 1

Posted by Don Casson

Mon, Aug 28, 2017

Continuation of Understanding the Parts, with a spotlight on the Balanced Approach

The fourth step to getting your team ready for planning a service catalog is to understand the parts. I discussed this topic in depth in my previous blog post, “What’s Inside? Every Effective Service Catalog Includes These Four Parts.” But, before I move onto the fifth step, I want to spend some time talking about the five principles for creating a customer-centric service portal and catalog, which is essential for understanding the parts.

In speaking with many Evergreen Systems customers, I know that IT would like to deliver services that customers will love. But, reducing complexity, while improving efficiency, accuracy, accountability, governance, speed, and quality of service are equally important elements, as they should be for companies looking to remain competitive. Achieving all these goals requires a Balanced Design approach, which incorporates the five principles: simple, beautiful, complete, predictive, and leading.

The Balanced Approach also considers the three constituents of a service – customers, providers and managers. Each of these groups have needs of their own that must be met to design and deliver durable IT services. (I talked about this more in depth in a previous post: "Who Should Be Included in Service Catalog Planning?")

 Constituents.pngFigure 1: All constituents have needs, which must be met to create durable services.


There’s a lot to cover here, so my focus for now is on the first two principles for the creation of a customer centric service portal and catalog: simple and beautiful.

1.  Keep it simple

I like simple. Who doesn’t? Simple is a topic I talk about a lot. For example, it was core to my message in my recent article about simplified asset and configuration management.

While “simple” is easy to understand, it’s not so easy to achieve. It means having fewer parts – devoid of complexity or fancy bells and whistles. For IT, this means spending a lot of time and resources figuring out how to make their service catalog simpler for the customer.

In the case of your service catalog, a simplified interface means eliminating every word, button, graphic or item of any sort that is not TOTALLY AND DIRECTLY related to the customer’s needs in understanding, choosing and using the service.

In other words, the customer should not have to work too hard to get what they’re looking for. It is the job of IT to work on limiting information to the bare bones because too much information can easily become burdensome to customers. On the other hand, ensuring that the information provided is sufficient allows the customer to figure it out; if the outcome is clear, that is. Plus, it makes the interaction for customers a little more fun while keeping it simple.

Consider this rule: if the customer can’t figure it out in 10-15 seconds, you’ll lose them.

2. Make it beautiful

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We all have different perspectives on this. For IT services, you need to understand what your customer sees as beautiful. To achieve this, think about beauty as a function rather than as an adjective. In this way, your customers are willing to spend more time on an activity if their ultimate experience is beautiful.

When the latest iPhone was released, I saw a line of 20 people waiting outside the Apple store, all laughing and joking. Rarely do you see smiles as people wait in line at the Division of Motor Vehicles; unless perhaps, the person waiting in line is a new teenage driver about to get their first driver’s license ever. The user interface of the iPhone is beautiful – it has a lot going for it. But, it is the customer’s expectation of quality – in both product and service – that makes their overall experience worth the wait for the customer. Can you say the same of your services? As another example, consider – their site may not stand out for its beauty, but it’s perfectly designed to maximize the beauty of the buying experience as a function – distilled to one click.

In the end, you can strive to make every step and screen beautiful, but you can’t please everyone. So, aim for a higher purpose, which is to make the whole experience beautiful.

In the next blog post, I’ll talk about the three remaining principles: complete, predictive and leading. Then, I’ll return to the fifth key to help get your team ready for a successful service catalog planning project. In the meantime, feel free to reach out to us for a preview of that step if you prefer not to wait.

And if you found this topic interesting and wonder what might be a logical next step in getting your service catalog up and running, consider taking a deeper dive demo to see if we might be a good fit for you.

Self-Service Portal Demo


About the Author: Don Casson is CEO of Evergreen Systems, an IT consulting firm helping medium to enterprise public and private sector organizations to dramatically transform their IT operations. Don is a frequent writer, blogger and presenter, and has delivered over 50 webinars on topics in Service Management, including IT and shared services

Feel free to contact Don at


Topics: Service Now, ServiceNow, Service Catalog Consultant, ITIL Consulting, IT Service Catalog, IT Service Catalog Workshops, ITSM Strategy, Employee Self-Service Portal, ITIL Strategy, Customer-Centric IT, ServiceNow Partner, Customer-Centric ITSM, Service Portal, Service Catalog Planning


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