What is customer case management?

Case management seeks to improve organizational performance by focusing on case information, rather than process, as the primary focus and workflow.

In customer support, the customer case (or simply ‘case management’) is the primary, most essential entity.

A case is a means of capturing the details of a service, project, transaction, or response to customer requests. As the customer reaches out with a question or issue in need or resolution, a support agent will create a new case. The case assists the agent in tracking all activities, communications, and channels used in resolving the issue. The case remains open, or in-progress, until a resolution has been presented to and accepted by the customer. Additionally, the case may also be closed if the customer fails to take a necessary action (such as accepting or rejecting a proposed solution) within an allotted time period.

With this definition in mind, case management is a natural extension, coordinating the teams, technologies, and tasks across an organization that each play a role in effective case resolution.

Case management is a natural fit as part of customer service management (CSM) and its corresponding framework, and can be applied to essentially any industry. Effective case management tools make it possible for organizations to structure and track a case to fit specific situations—either for categorization, to support specific use cases, or because of a need to track information in a standardized manner within their industry.

Case management is designed to collect details related to questions or issues, to ensure that they can be addressed and resolved quickly. Additionally, case management supplies organizations with detailed analytics and reliable insights related to customer support requests. This provides a number of clear advantages, including the following:

Improved products and processes

With reliable insights into the root causes of customer issues, businesses can work to resolve problems and improve future iterations. They can refine their products and processes to deliver a more satisfactory customer experience.

Reduced human error

Effective case management provides a single-pane view of each case, along with establishing essential processes for handling and resolving cases. With these resources, agents can take action confidently, significantly reducing the risk of human error. At the same time, when handoffs become necessary, the next agent or employee can take over seamlessly, immediately up to speed on the details of the case and what actions have already been taken.

Improved activity management

Customer case management isn’t only useful for tracking cases; it can also be employed to better manage and track agents. Activity management benefits from case management data, providing businesses with worker transparency, for a clearer picture of employee responsibilities, productivity, and performance.

Simplified task management

Often, resolving an individual case can feel like a complex and daunting undertaking. Case management software can help simplify difficult cases, breaking down complex tasks into smaller, easier-to-achieve objectives.

Essential workflow

Case management software also uses automated workflows to streamline processes, track task completion, and accelerate case resolution. Reliable workflow in case management keeps everything moving in the right direction, improving efficiency in the process.

Real-time visibility

Accurate, actionable data is at the heart of customer case management. Real-time analytics help identify service issues as they develop, while long-term analysis identifies service trends. Additionally, effective reporting can help determine in what areas agents or teams would benefit from increased training.


Customers tend to favor self-service, as they don’t have to wait to speak to a representative and move through the process of several handoffs. Self-service options empower customers to achieve effective resolutions quickly and easily. These options may include knowledge base options, customer portals, forums, service catalogs, and more. In the event that these options don’t lead to resolution, customers can also create a case themselves, which is then assigned to an agent.

Virtual agent

Virtual agents are another form of customer self-service. Sometimes called virtual representatives or chatbots, virtual agents are software programs that apply scripted rules and artificial intelligence to provide automated services or needed guidance to customers. Customers can also work through chatbots to create new cases or check the status of an open case.

Machine learning

Machine learning employs advanced AI technology to help assign or route cases to the right agents, based on agent skills, availability, and other traits. Machine learning is capable of improving over time, becoming more accurate and efficient.


Organizations should analyze and create workflows as a method of processing a case or issue. A workflow, ideally, is a process that outlines all of the necessary steps to be taken from the beginning of a case to the resolution of a case, including scenarios such as escalation or a case handoff. Likewise, playbooks break workflows into multiple stages, providing easy step-by-step guidance for completing complex tasks associated with customer-service cases.

External data

The more access to relevant data, the more effective case management may be. External data sources include customer identity data, quantitative examples like transactions, descriptive data, and qualitative data like attitudes and motivations. Understanding the customer as an individual can help organizations and agents personalize the service they offer, while also helping to inform on current trends.

Company-specific tools

Some companies build their own tools to assist in case management. Customized and internal tools help agents resolve cases with the ability to specifically outline processes, and see suggested next-steps toward resolution. Tools may also include those used in running diagnostics and performing credit checks.

Agent assistance and guidance

Effective case management requires detailed context, easily accessible right when an agent may need to access it. This context should be presented dynamically, based on case type, subject, and the step the agent is currently on in the playbook. Context may include relevant knowledge articles or community posts, previous or current cases that may provide further insight, and troubleshooters or decision trees. Organizations may also implement guided decisions. Guided decisions provide a clear troubleshooting process built on case context, asking agents questions based on previous answers, and offering suggestions as to which next steps to take. Together, these resources follow a set structure to help agents arrive at the correct solution.

ITIL is a framework of best practices for delivering IT services. Case management is supported in ITIL, different in scope from ITIL problem management and incident management.

Case management vs. problem management

While case management exists to provide agents with essential tools, resources, and data to help them resolve customer cases more quickly, problem management has a very different scope. Problem management focuses on preventing incidents before they happen or reducing the impact of an incident while looking for the root cause.

Case management vs. incident management

Incident management is a series of policies and workflows that help manage internal, IT-oriented incidents from beginning to end, including identifying the incident, logging it, diagnosing it, and restoring the service as soon as possible. Case management encompasses customer issues, and can include problems and incidents, and may include issues that are not always ITIL related.

Customer relationship management (CRM) has become a widely recognized and adopted technology in recent years. However, CRM is not a suitable substitute for customer case management. Case management solutions, particularly when coupled with powerful customer service management (CSM), allow businesses to improve service operations and engage customers using digital workflows. Customer problems are addressed by bringing front, middle, and back offices together. CRM, on the other hand, is focused simply on generating sales, and is more of a tool for marketing and sales departments, reactively tracking cases, but failing to provide a complete, end-to-end solution.

To improve the customer experience while quickly resolving support cases, CSM-powered case management is the more-effective option.

Customer Service Management (CSM) from ServiceNow provides the tools and resources needed to optimize customer case management in essentially any organization or industry. Built on the Now Platform, CSM delivers case management features backed by industry leading technologies and support.

Case and major case

Forms for tracking cases can be customized to track only the necessary details and activities associated with the case resolution. UI elements, such as picklists and selections, allow for easy data collection and analysis, and communications to and from customers, regardless of communication channel, are recorded for future reference. Major case allows agents to track an issue for multiple customers, and enables ongoing communications to affected customers until the case is resolved.

Account modeling and industry support

Understanding complex relationships—how customers, companies, providers, and more interact together—can be essential to providing effective case resolution. CSM supports these relationships without the need for customization, and helps determine who can access which actions.

Predictive intelligence

ServiceNow CSM applies predictive intelligence to more effectively route issues, offer insightful recommendations, identify trends, and provide solutions. Predictive intelligence is built on machine learning, allowing CSM to improve and become more effective.

Agent workspace

The ServiceNow agent workspace surfaces relationships between accounts, contacts, consumers, and relevant industry information. Offering full context, analytics, and AI-assisted recommendations, the Agent Workspace incorporates seamless chatbot handoff, simple navigation, automatic conversation logging, and more.

Advanced work assignment

Different agents have different backgrounds and expertise. Advanced work assignment identifies the best agents to handle each specific case. Selection criteria is based on agent availability, capacity, skills, and case affinity.

Service level agreements (SLAs)

All SLAs, whether internal or external, can be defined to fulfill business requirements. SLAs are set up to track tasks as they move along the process, when they fulfill a certain condition, and if they are within the appropriate timeframe to ensure that cases are resolved according to expectations. SLAs can be set up for any task, and are not limited specifically to cases.

Outsourced customer service

Organizations with third-party customer service providers can use the same system while keeping their data private and regulated. Outsourcer’s managers and agents are easily onboarded, and organizations can route cases between internal and outsourced teams. This provides a singular view of operations when agents are managed on a single platform.

Case types

CSM provides the capability to create different cases depending on customer needs, necessary resolution, their status, and the priority of the case. Customers can also perform self-service actions that trigger certain case actions.


Playbooks help companies automate complex customer service processes that extend across siloed teams and systems. They can define data, perform automation, and create and assign tasks needed to digitize the processes, while providing agents with visual guides and a sequence of tasks needed to resolve customer issues. Agents also have the opportunity to review information, add to it, and request further information when needed.

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