How proactive support operations can reduce customer escalations

  • Now on Now
  • Tom Henk
  • Solutions
  • 2022
January 12, 2022

A happy man at a laptop: Proactive support operations can reduce customer escalations.

Minesh Patel, senior manager of support account management at ServiceNow, and JP Renaud, senior director of support management at ServiceNow, contributed to this blog.

As part of our customer service and support team, the ServiceNow support account management (SAM) and customer escalations (CE) teams are committed to averting situations where performance affects customers’ ability to operate their business.

Our job is to focus on customer health—in other words, keep ServiceNow customers out of harm’s way. Our teams are responsible for preventing and mitigating P1 outages and major performance issues.  

Many of the issues our customers experience are performance-related, due to poor maintenance or variations from best practices. To provide the highest level of support operations, our focus extends beyond ServiceNow to issues our customers may inadvertently create. 
 

Scaling prevention efforts

As the company has grown, we realized reactive problem-solving in the SAM and CE functions couldn’t scale. We were efficiently monitoring our customers’ cloud infrastructure from different angles, but we needed a way to resolve issues more rapidly. 

We wanted a coordinated approach that could quickly identify and communicate indicators of issues. Detecting these anomalies early would mean we could begin mitigation efforts at these first signs, sometimes before the customer even knew about them.

After surveying 6,004 customers throughout six different countries, Gartner® found that 42% prefer proactive service, compared to 21% who prefer reactive service.1 Intercepting issues promptly would enable us to move to a proactive investigative approach integrated across both teams.

Our SAM team had a siloed view of overall customer health. It was focused on individual alerts relevant to its specific accounts in the areas of networking, capacity, and database management. The team wasn’t looking for broader problems that could potentially turn into a customer escalation for the CE team to address.

SAM team siloed view: Networking team, capacity team, database team


The CE team entered the picture when customer issues had the potential to make a large-scale impact. Often, the issue was spiraling out of control before the CE team knew about it.

Reducing issues and escalations

The SAM and CE teams adopted a unified, proactive approach, tapping into the power of the Now Platform®.

CE developed two models to help predict and prevent issues. The models monitor and analyze a selection of alerts that have been identified as early indicators for major performance problems or outages. The team is notified so team members can intervene before a significant impact. The models include:

  • Predictive Performance Alerting – identifies customer instances at risk using monitoring alerts

  • Top Transaction Trending – identifies customer instances at risk using transactional response times

With these models, the CE team is seeing fewer performance issues and escalations. 

The proactive mindset has shifted the dynamic. Now, we often approach customers and recommend actions instead of waiting for the account team to alert us. This creates a partnership to solve the issue. (Read more about predictive modeling on the Now Platform.)

To complement this partnership, the SAM team developed a Predictive Analysis Dashboard (PAD). It gives support account managers a view into customer health so they can:

  • View specific customer alerts in aggregate to identify early indicators of trouble.

  • Zero in on important metrics and act accordingly based on shifts.

  • Approach monitoring with a forward-thinking mindset.

SAM dashboard: Predict and prevent view


Support account managers log in to the dashboard to spot anomalies in aggregate. They can then try to prevent or mitigate issues before they cause real trouble. This visibility has boosted customers’ trust as they see the value we provide in helping to avoid or substantially reduce the impact of performance issues.

Just as important is the feedback from SAM team members who live and breathe customer support.

PAD is a vast improvement over previous tools we used. I can quickly observe metrics I know are important to my customers and act proactively from the metric. It's all there in a quick, easy-to-read format, and it has become something I rely on very heavily. --ServiceNow SAM


Making a positive impact

One of the most noticeable outcomes has been a sense of relief. Instead of being blindsided by issues, both the SAM and CE teams have visibility into customer health earlier in the support process. The number of proactive actions and recommendations to our customers are trending up, creating a positive impact.

The result is a better end-to-end experience for both our customers and our support teams. And that goes a long way toward alleviating some big-time pressure.

Find out more about how ServiceNow uses its own products to run its internal operations.

1 Gartner, Proactive Customer Service Is Valued by Customers, Despite What They Say, https://www.gartner.com/en/documents/3985773/proactive-customer-service-is-valued-by-customers-despit, Customer Service and Support Research Team, 29 May 2020.

GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

© 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.

Topics

  • Total experience companies outperform: prism refraction with an arrow pointing to the right
    Employee Experience
    Survey says: Total experience-focused companies outperform
    Organizations are aligning employee experience and customer experience to create a positive total experience. See findings from the latest research.
  • 4 ServiceNow employees who worked on support case creation and auto-agent workflows
    Now on Now
    Streamlining support case creation and administration
    When customer feedback revealed areas ripe for improvement, ServiceNow employees listened and upgraded two support workflows: case creation and auto-agent.
  • Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe): business man looking at phone while standing on bridge overlooking a city
    IT Management
    How the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) truly supports business
    The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) delivery model can help IT leaders manage the transition from a stability-focused to a continuously evolving infrastructure.

Trends & Research

  • Total experience companies outperform: prism refraction with an arrow pointing to the right
    Employee Experience
    Survey says: Total experience-focused companies outperform
  • Customer service: smiling businessman on phone walking outdoors
    Customer Experience
    Survey: 3 tips to deliver world-class customer service
  • Enterprise SRE (site reliability engineering): where service reliability and business agility meet
    Application Development
    Service quality and the rising need for enterprise SRE

Year