Anyone who has spent time on the phone or online trying to resolve a customer service issue has likely experienced a situation in which they get transferred from one department to another -- perhaps more than once -- before the problem gets fixed.
ServiceNow, which is best known for providing software that helps keep IT operations running smoothly, this week introduced a solution that leverages the workflow, orchestration and automation capabilities of its flagship product and applies them to customer service - with the goal of eliminating those kinds of customer experiences.
The idea behind ServiceNow Customer Service Management is to create a closed-loop system from customer engagement to issue resolution. According to the company, ServiceNow Customer Service Management connects departments across an organization with a structured process to diagnose and fix the root cause of customer issues.
"We leverage our existing industry-leading capabilities and apply them to the existing broken customer service process," said Holly Simmons, ServiceNow's senior director, product marketing, customer service.
"Traditional CRM tools stop at customer engagement. Our new cloud-based offering proactively engages departments across the enterprise, as well as infrastructure and workflows to track and fix the root cause of customer issues to prevent these issues in the first place," she said.
The application uses a common platform to connect customer service teams to other departments that may need to help troubleshoot customer problems. Thus, not only are problems resolved more quickly, but companies can reduce the time to identify recurring issues and keep them from happening.
"We saw an opportunity to connect the customer service team to engineering, operations, field services and other departments that may need to be involved to solve a customer problem. It's a holistic, integrated customer support system," Simmons said.
Cross-functional participation is key to good customer service, she said.
"To diagnose and resolve issues, any department should be able to participate in problem solving. ServiceNow has already shown this approach with its employee-focused ITSM solution and, in this case, extending that to customers or partners."
Enhanced visibility into bottlenecks and other issues, combined with workflow and orchestration capabilities, enables proactive communications to potentially affected customers before they contact a service provider, Simmons said. "For example, if one of a financial institution’s servers has been intermittently failing, its banking partners could be notified that the issue is being worked and resolved before they call."
The application includes a self-service customer and partner portal that enables management of information, access to contextual knowledge or participation in social Q&A. It also helps in the selection of options that automate recurring work for the fastest response, according to ServiceNow. And it can be used to support customers in multiple channels: phone call, mobile application, email, chat or video
Earlier this year ServiceNow introduced a product called Security Operations that similarly provides a single platform for security and IT teams to respond to security incidents and vulnerabilities.
"ServiceNow is leveraging its expertise to fix gaps in enterprise services that we see and hear about from our customers," Simmons said. "There are many areas of the enterprise that need to have a systematic approach to the way work gets done."
ServiceNow Customer Service Management can integrate with existing CRM and customer service solutions via APIs, Simmons said. "Many customers might start with an implementation that grows over time and that could include taking advantage of a legacy CRM system, especially one that is being used for SFA. For service, customers can also start small, but are likely to see the benefits over time of a holistic service management approach for customer service and fully move to ServiceNow."
ServiceNow is working with technology partners including Starfish Associates and 3CLogic to build integrations to support embedded technologies for telephony, chat, video, and screen share, she added.
The new product will compete with offerings from Salesforce, Oracle, SAP and Zendesk, she said. "We see an opportunity to replace legacy, 'Soviet-era' customer service systems while delivering a broader, more robust offering that provides end-to-end capabilities that a CRM system can't support."
The software is available now and is priced at $125 per seat, Simmons said.
Several companies, including ERP software company Epicor, are already using ServiceNow Customer Service Management.
"More than support, we're focused on providing the right set of services to our customers to enable them to grow their business," said Chris Orr, vice president of Support Strategy at Epicor, in a statement. "A service management approach from ServiceNow made more sense than traditional CRM to engage our customers' business holistically."