How to close incidents and request for service when users are not getting back to us

By ITIL® from Experience©

Some organizations spend considerable effort chasing users to close service requests and incidents. After all to follow ITIL® means that: "The user or business agreed that the incident has been resolved and that normal state operations have been restored.”1 As such only the user can authorize closure. This prevents IT from unilaterally closing incidents/service requests without confirming that the issue was resolved or that the service was provided to the user’s satisfaction. The problem is that if users are not actively participating in the process or simply become unresponsive, IT will breach Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and might never be able to close anything.

One approach to close requests forgotten by users is to implement a “3 strikes "policy"2 . Essentially, IT will attempt to contact the user at 3 different times using at least two methods of communication on different days. Failure to make contact and IT will close the service request/incident.

For example, the procedure for this policy can be:

  1. The first attempt is made with the same method used by the user to contact IT (for telephone, ensure that a voice mail is left! For email, web support or chat, send an email)
  2. The next business day, make a second attempt using a method other than the one that was used by the user to contact IT. For example, if email was used to open the incident/request try to contact the individual by telephone (don’t forget to leave a message!)
  3. The following day, make the third and final attempt by email so that there is a written record of the last communication. Here is a sample of that email:
Subject: Request# _ _ _ _ _ _ - Closing Notice
This is to inform you that the Information Technology Service Desk has attempted to contact you without success on _ _ _ _ _ and on _ _ _ _ _ regarding request number _ _ _ _ _ related to _ _ _ _ _.
As a result the request will be closed. It can be reopened within 24 hours of receiving this email by contacting the IT Service Desk at

The incident/service request is then closed with a status/action indicating that the request was closed under this policy (e.g. Closed no Response). This provides an important metric which can be presented to the business when discussing SLA performance.

Also, don't forget to communicate this policy to customers and users. One of the first steps should be a discussion with the Customer during an SLA review meeting. Then the policy can be added to the SLA.

The "3 strikes" policy usually requires another policy and procedure related to re-opening as some users will ask that their request be reopened. For example, the Re-open policy can specify that an incident or service request can be reopened within 5 business days after being closed as long as the follow on work is related to the original request, otherwise a new request or incident should be logged.

IT can take control of the user interaction. Closing requests and incidents for non-responsive clients is not bad customer service, it is efficient service delivery as it enables IT to focus its effort on helping users instead of chasing them.

Last updated on: 2015-01-08
Published on: 2013-05-11

"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." Aldous Huxley

More Quotes


More on Incident Management

ITIL Process > Service Level Management (SLM)
ITIL Process > Incident Management
ITIL Process > Request Fulfillment
ITIL Process > Service Desk

 Plugin disabled
Plugin footnotearea cannot be executed.


Copyright 2013-2015 - ITIL® from Experience - D.Matte