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Assess your opportunities for self-service improvement

Effective self‑service is a matter of good design and maintenance. Start by understanding your organization’s self‑service objectives, customer needs, and opportunities for automation. Objectively assess your self‑service failure points as well as your improvement opportunities.

Key insights

  • Create a small set of metrics to objectively define your self‑service goals.
  • Use interviews to identify where the pain points are in your service consumers’ key interactions with request fulfillment.
  • Visually analyze potential self‑service use cases based on their business value, value to that service consumer, complexity, and cost to make informed prioritization decisions.

Successful self‑service reduces both your service consumer’s pain points and the number of service requests made by phone or email. Many organizations assume that self‑service opportunities are simply a matter of technology, but that approach leads to low adoption.

To avoid that pitfall, start with an objective analysis of your organization’s self‑service improvement opportunities based on the business benefits you expect and the perceived consumer value.

Following these steps will help you objectively assess your self‑service failure points and improvement opportunities.

Step 1: Define your self‑service outcomes

Don’t look at self‑service in isolation. To capture the benefits of self‑service, be sure to define measurable outcomes and align them with your strategic goals for the Now Platform®. Your strategic goals might include improving employee experience, improving service desk efficiency, or fast‑tracking issue resolution.

Strategic outcomes

Self-service metrics

Description

Improve service desk efficiency

Increase case deflection

The rate that resolve individual issues using self-service channels instead of calling the support desk

Improve employee experience

Minimize customer efforts

Measure how easy it is for service consumers to get what they need

Fast issue resolution

Reduce time to resolve 

Measure how quickly users can get the help they need

Table 1: Common self‑service outcomes and related strategic goals

Use these self‑service outcomes as your North Star for analyzing demand and prioritizing use cases.

ServiceNow customers have access to in‑platform performance analytics solutions that process owners can use to visualize incident self‑service adoption and conduct in‑depth analyses. These things will help identify opportunities for improvement. You can see an example of this in Figure 2 below.

Figure 2: An out‑of‑the‑box in‑platform solution to analyze self‑service performance

 

Step 2: Build a (measurable) understanding of the service consumer journey

To get to self‑service that works, it’s important to understand who your service consumers are, what their expectations and needs are when it comes to service request fulfillment, and what success looks like.

Understand the service consumer journey

Begin with an initial understanding of the service consumer journey. Engage service process owners, experienced support reps, and subject matter experts to build an initial understanding of your service consumers’ journey. Use the questions below to capture your findings:

  • Who are your service consumers?
  • What outcomes do they expect to enable through the service (e.g., less time on tasks, lower error rates)?
  • What triggers their service need? Is it on a schedule or initiated by some external event?
  • What process or workflow does a typical consumer follow to solve for their service need?
  • What risks are associated with the service request from both the consumer’s and the organization’s perspective?
  • What would be the ideal experience for the consumer? How do you envision them talking about the solution once it’s live? Will they possibly write a tweet about the success of this self‑service use case?

Not all service consumers need or expect the same things. We’ve found that the most successful ServiceNow customers generate persona types that capture information on consumers’ request motives, personal preferences, work profiles, and psychographics. See Figure 3 for a persona example of a consumer who frequently travels.

Figure 3: Persona of a service consumer who frequently travels

 

Use journey maps

Next, employ user journey maps to discover where self‑service can succeed (or fail). Chalk out the step‑by‑step user journey from the time the service need arises until it’s resolved. As you do this, be sure to provide insight into why service consumers switch away from (or toward) self‑service. Also outline where self‑service paths can break down.

When you create effective journey maps, you can see where the majority of channel switching or abandonment happens. Then you can invest heavily at these points. See Figure 4 for examples of a service consumer making a request.

Figure 4: Sample key interactions in service consumer journey

 

Identify measurable attributes

Identify measurable attributes that shape the self‑service experience at each key interaction where the majority of channel switching or abandonment happens. Assess each key interaction to understand the attributes that help enable self‑service (like availability of self‑service options on mobile devices) and those that are getting in the way of self‑service. Figure 5 shows a sample analysis template you can use to identify the right attributes for each interaction point.

Figure 5: Analysis themes to identify key attributes that shape the service experience

 

Along with engaging internal SMEs and stakeholders, use a combination of user observations, interviews, and survey techniques (see below for sample questions) to generate user personas and identify the key integration points and attributes that shape the self‑service experience.

Sample service consumer interview questions

Step 3: Evaluate opportunities for automation to prioritize high‑ROI use cases

Given its benefits, you might feel the urge to make everything self‑service. But not all service use cases are well suited to deliver a good self‑service experience, especially when you have constraints in simplifying and automating the service workflow.

To prioritize and invest in the right self‑service use cases, analyze each based on:

  • Its expected self‑service value for the business and the customers
  • The complexity of implementing self‑service, which is determined by the sequence of activities required to complete a service request, such as generating records, getting approvals, or running scripts

Create an objective, consistent method to measure the expected value and complexity for all your self‑service use cases. Then visually analyze them to highlight your quick wins and automation needs.

Figure 6 shows a sample prioritization matrix you can use to visually analyze your self‑service improvement opportunities.

Sample service consumer interview questions

Sample service consumer interview questions

  • What do you immediately do when you need to _____________?
  • Where do you look for alternatives?
  • I saw that you did __________. Can you explain what you were trying to accomplish?
  • What do you do when you get stuck on a screen or a step in the process?
  • Can you walk me through the _______________ process again?
  • Where do you most often bump into challenges when trying to complete ___________?
  • What frustrates you most about your current process?

 

Sample service consumer interview questions

Sample service consumer interview questions

  • What do you immediately do when you need to _____________?
  • Where do you look for alternatives?
  • I saw that you did __________. Can you explain what you were trying to accomplish?
  • What do you do when you get stuck on a screen or a step in the process?
  • Can you walk me through the _______________ process again?
  • Where do you most often bump into challenges when trying to complete ___________?
  • What frustrates you most about your current process?

 

Figure 6: Prioritization matrix to visually analyze self‑service improvement opportunities

 

The expected value from self‑service use cases depends on how well they align with your self‑service outcomes and your findings from the customer journey analysis.

Resist the urge to prioritize based on a first‑come‑first‑served basis or according to whomever has the loudest voice. Instead, when you evaluate your expected self‑service value and solution complexity, use a closed‑ended scorecard with mutually agreed evaluation factors and criteria like the one shown in the table below.

 

Factors that drive self-service value

Description

Sample impact scoring scale

Cost savings per request

Change in people, process, and technology cost of serving users through self-service versus using a traditional channel

o  1–Low: <$5

o  2–Medium: $5–$10

o  3–High: $10+ 

Frequency of request

Volume of support requests or calls received per week

o  1–Low: <3 requests/week

o  2–Medium: 3–10 requests/week

o  3–High: 10+ requests/week 

Number of service consumers impacted

Number of use case customers for the service

o  1–Low: <40% (or no group/function-level impact)

o  2–Medium: 40%–60% (or group/function-level impact)

o  3–High: 70% + (or enterprise-level impact)

Time to resolution improvement

Taken from the time the service need is identified until it is fulfilled

o  1–Low: No change

o  2–Medium: Small improvement

o  3–High: Significant improvement

Customer effort improvement

Expected change in service consumer’s perception of how hassle-free it was to get what they needed

o  1–Low: No change

o  2–Medium: Small improvement

o  3–High: Significant improvement

Factors that drive solution complexity

Description

Sample complexity scoring scale

Risk

Highlights any sort of risk associated with the service workflow including security, data integration, regulation, compliance, and information privacy concerns

o  1–Low

o  2–Medium

o  3–High

Interdependencies with other applications

Highlights the number of multiple different applications or databases the solution workflow touches to resolve the service request

o  1–Low

o  2–Medium

o  3–High

User input requirements

Captures the volume of information or data the user needs to provide to fulfill the service request

o  1–Low

o  2–Medium

o  3–High

Number of approvals needed

Highlights the number of approvals that require human oversight to process

o  1–Low: 0–2 approvals

o  2–Medium: 3–5 approvals

o  3–High: 5+ approvals

Overall solution complexity score (average value)

Table 2: Self‑service use case prioritization scorecard

In the next table, you’ll see an example of a completed scorecard for a self‑service password reset use case.

Note: The factors that drive the expected self‑service value, along with the scoring scale, are unique to each organization. These depend on your overall service goals, business processes, and customer pain points. Get together with your key stakeholders and SMEs to come up with a self‑service use case prioritization scorecard that aligns with your organizational context.

Expected self-service value (for the business and customers)

Sample use case 1: Password reset 

Score

Cost savings per request

Typically, users need to call the support desk to reset a password, which costs around $15 to handle. With automation, users can directly reset it using their phone, which costs $2 to handle. 

o  1–Low: <$5

o  2–Medium: $5–$10

✔ 3–High: $10+ 

Frequency of request

The support desk receives more than 10 requests per week. 

o  1–Low: <3 requests/week

o  2–Medium: 3–10 requests/week

✔ 3–High: 10+ requests/week 

Number of users impacted

90% of users reset their password every 2–3 weeks. 

o  1–Low: <40% (or no group/function-level impact)

o  2–Medium: 40%–60% (or group/function-level impact)

✔ 3–High: 70%–100% (or enterprise-level impact)

Time to resolution improvement

With self-service, users won’t have to wait in a long line to speak with a support agent.

o  1–Low: No change

o  2–Medium: Small improvement

✔ 3–High: Significant improvement

Customer effort improvement

Users hate to call the support desk for password resets multiple times. It is time consuming and embarrassing for them. 

o  1–Low: No change

o  2–Medium: Small improvement

✔ 3–High: Significant improvement

Overall score

High

Solution complexity

Risk

Password resets involve significant data security and privacy concerns. 

o  1–Low

o  2–Medium

✔ 3–High

Interdependencies with other applications

Resets don’t require integration with any other application but require access to multiple levels of encrypted databases.

o  1–Low

o  2–Medium

✔  3–High

User input requirements

User need to provide personal details for verification.

o  1–Low

o  2–Medium

✔  3–High

Number of approvals needed

Manager oversight is required to approve. 

o  1–Low: 0–2 approvals

✔  2–Medium: 3–5 approvals

o  3–High: 5+ approvals

Overall score

High

Table 3: Prioritization scorecard for a password reset

Don’t limit your focus to low‑complexity self‑service use cases. Instead, continuously invest in automating IT and business processes to prioritize use cases that help improve the service experience and reduce support costs.

Get inspired by these successful self‑service use cases commonly deployed by ServiceNow customers.

Simple self-service use cases

(limited or no automation needed)

Sophisticated self-service use cases (require automation)

-   New hardware requests

-   Track request status

-   Benefits inquires/selection

-   Payroll inquires

-   New hire FAQs

-   Employee trainings

-    SSO password resets

-    New hire onboarding

-    System upgrades

-    New user account on Active Directory

-    Employment verification

Table 4: Common self‑service use cases that ServiceNow customers have implemented

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