Five Principles for Creating a Customer Centric Service Portal and Catalog: Part 2

Thought Leadership for
IT Service Management Professionals

Five Principles for Creating a Customer Centric Service Portal and Catalog: Part 2

Posted by Don Casson

Wed, Aug 30, 2017

Continuation of Understanding the Parts, with a focus on the Customer Journey

I’ve recently returned from a brief vacation, a journey, and I recalled the many interactions I’ve had with my customers across a wide range of industries. You’re probably right if you’re thinking that this is the last thing I should be thinking about on my vacation. But, “journey” is relevant to this article, and for creating a customer centric service portal.

In speaking about the customer journey, I continue along the path to “understanding the parts,” which as a reminder, is the fourth step to getting your team ready for planning a service catalog. During my vacation, I thought about the customer experience, which in fact, is a journey. And what fascinates me about a journey, having just been part of one, is that it needs certain elements for it to feel like a fulfilling experience.

In my last post, I covered the two of the five principles for creating a customer-centric service portal and catalog: simple and beautiful. In this one, we will look at the remaining three principles – complete, predictive and learning – which are important for fulfilling customer experiences.

1. Make it complete

A complete process makes it easy for customers to understand, choose and use services because everything is within reach. It’s like pushing a cart in the supermarket and being able to grab groceries as you stroll along the aisles without too much effort. Building a complete experience for a service means that for every given page the experience is complete. To achieve this, you must think from the customer’s perspective. For every step from start to finish, the experience is complete – end to end.

Not too long ago, my wife and I were to attend a wedding. It was a long time since I’ve been part of a wedding celebration. But that wasn’t what was new to me. I know that my wife really likes shoes, and loves shopping at for the “complete” experience she gets, unlike shoe shopping at the mall. Zappos provides her with more choices, and returns are very simple. So I tried it for myself – this was my new experience. I journeyed through the site and typed in “wedding shoes.” I looked at styles and quickly found sling backs, a favorite of hers. As I strolled through the site, Complete got even more Complete – it was a breeze to select size, heel height and color. And, “wedding” was already preselected, so the shoes were on target.  Long story short, I purchased them, and they were perfect for the event. It was complete. I doubt I would have achieved the same results at the mall on my own. 

2. Move beyond Complete:  make it Predictive

Predictive has reached buzzword status today as we all swim through terabytes of data to make sense of the world. Predictive technologies allow you to foretell what’s going to happen based on observation, experience, and more than ever before, data. Technologies such as artificial intelligence makes Predictive easy; think Amazon’s Echo. Simply say, “Alexa,” and a world of products and information is within an earshot.

Predictive goes hand in hand with Complete. But you can take it a step further with Predictive. You can introduce the customer with what they may likely want next, with the option to easily explore it. Predictive is always that little surprise just beyond Complete that pleases the customer – like Steve Jobs on stage introducing the most compelling new product at the end of his presentation with the phrase, “and there’s just one more thing…”

I’ve taken many journeys, and I’ve used Airbnb several times, including a recent trip to Miami Beach. Airbnb makes it fun and easy to rent a room in someone’s house or even their whole house in locations around the world. Ahead of my Miami Beach trip, I checked out the accommodations. I filtered my search based on price, number of guests, type of lodging, etc. I reviewed the results. But, then Airbnb predicted that I might expand my search radius or even consider an alternative area in Miami – like Coral Gables rather than South Beach.  So, they put an easily scaled map on their user interface – so I can refine my search without “getting lost” and having to revert to an archaic zip code search. Journey complete, right? Or is it? Wait, there’s just one more thing: another important principle.

3. Lead -- they will follow

Leading is to guide something or someone along a way. Leading is ensuring that you are linking each step on the service path to the next, for the complete service end to end. And every step of the way is clear, and is up or out. This enlightens customers on which path to take, minimizing confusion or frustration. Nothing is more frustrating than using a web self-service experience, and well into it you get stuck in a corner and have to back all the way out.  We call this a “box canyon.”  Another common pain is clicking the back button – and going all the way back to the beginning of an experience, forcing you to start all over. Both are examples of incomplete customer experiences, or failure to lead from start to finish.  But leading can be valuable for the providers too, because it can also be about taking the customer somewhere you want them to go, like signing up for a new single sign on capability. Amazon is a master at Leading – showing you other things “you might be interested in” while you are in the middle of a current shopping experience.

If you want to see example of these principles in action, take a look at our Employee Self Service Portal & Catalog – it was designed with these principles in mind. And, you may also want to check out our next post (on September 6, 2017), where I talk about the fifth and final step to getting your team ready for planning a service catalog: Define Your Start.

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


Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all