7 tips for knowledge managers to increase self-service

  • Now on Now
  • Solutions
  • 2022
  • Jaime Honaker
June 06, 2022

Self-service: woman working on a laptop

Knowledge managers have an ongoing challenge: They want to encourage customers to self-serve and quickly find answers to their questions. They also want to minimize frustration if customers can’t quickly find an answer. 

Delivering great self-service is key to customer experience. It’s in everyone’s best interest if a customer doesn’t open a case (or incident). But where is the line between keeping your customer happy and causing undue delays? Balancing the increasing amount of product information against the rapid delivery of relevant content is a constant battle—at least for me as a ServiceNow knowledge manager. 

7 tips to encourage self-service in customer support: fresh content, hidden knowledge, powerful search engine, channel the user, add recommendations, encourage customers to dish, ask for ideas

Thinking about the role of self-service is one of the most important aspects of my job. These seven tips guide me in encouraging customers to self-help their way to success:

1. Keep your content fresh  

The most tedious part of a knowledge manager’s job is keeping the knowledge base healthy by retiring or deleting old or unused content. Incorporate customer feedback in the comments into updates and revisions. 

Review all your content regularly for duplicates, views, attaches, reuse, updates, or improvements. Check if internal content can be made customer- or public-facing. Don’t forget to add customer context when creating articles, in both the title (great place for an error message) and the text.

2. Tap hidden knowledge   

Think of your knowledge base as an iceberg. The smallest part is above water and represents explicit or captured knowledge. The largest mass—the tacit knowledge stuck in people’s heads—is below water. Figure out a way to tap into and share that dormant knowledge.  

At ServiceNow, we use Knowledge-Centered Service (KCS®) that enables agents to update knowledge base content as they resolve cases. That way, knowledge is immediately available to customers when they need it, not later. In Q122, we saw a 40% decrease in median time to relief for cases with a knowledge base attached compared to those without.

Iceberg with explicit knowledge above water and tacit knowledge below water

3. Use a powerful search engine  

We use AI Search, introduced in the Now Platform® Rome release, to deliver the right content to customers at the right time and help avoid opening cases. By constantly learning, AI improves relevance. We’ve found that 89% of the time, a search automation request does not lead to a case submission. Delivery of relevant content means a better user experience and more satisfied customers.

4. Channel your users  

Why do customers open cases? Because they can’t find information or aren't sure what they’re looking for. Point them in the direction you want them to go. What actions do you want them to take instead of opening a case? Would the knowledge base, product documentation, or an online community provide the right answer? 

Determine the behavior you want, and then use breadcrumbs to encourage customers to follow a certain path. Encourage visitors to self-serve resources so they’ll do it again.

5. Add recommendations

If a customer shows intent to open a case, keep the self-service options open. Content recommendations should be an integral part of the case submission process. We use machine learning to match categories to the case issue, find relevant content, filter by popularity (number of views or attachments), and then offer a piece of content as an option. 

Relevance is the key. If something is broken, the customer should be directed to a different place than if they want to learn about the product. 

6. Encourage customers to dish (with each other)

Who doesn’t appreciate recommendations from someone facing the same challenges in their job? We host an online community that fosters active exchanges. The Now Support community has 37 million annual views. Of the 83% of questions in the community that received a reply, the reply was within the first six hours of the question’s posting.  
We take it a step further and host regular customer video meetings focused on popular topics. Our customers ask questions, and internal experts provide answers that we socialize in the community.  

7. Solicit ideas 

We created an Innovation Portal that encourages customers to suggest product enhancements or features. We run it Reddit-style. Participants can socialize their suggestions and vote for the best ideas. We integrate the most popular requests into our product development process.

Self-service contributes to customer success

Knowledge management best practices are constantly changing. Technology is a critical tool in creating a great customer experience by allowing us to adapt quickly as interests shift. We’re always looking for ways to improve, such as building a Knowledge Management widget to show how content is performing in real time. This helps us stay on top of knowledge base trends and grow accordingly. 

At the end of the day, our efforts are centered on helping customers find the information they need to use the Now Platform efficiently and effectively. If we use technology to help them self-solve faster and create fewer cases, we can transform their frustration into delight. The sooner they’re on their way to a new task, the happier they are with ServiceNow. 

View the Now on Now snackable video series to explore the first three steps in any knowledge management journey: 

The KCS® methodology is a registered service mark of the Consortium for Service Innovation.

© 2022 ServiceNow, Inc. All rights reserved. ServiceNow, the ServiceNow logo, Now, and other ServiceNow marks are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of ServiceNow, Inc. in the United States and/or other countries. Other company names, product names, and logos may be trademarks of the respective companies with which they are associated.


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