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Build momentum for self-service adoption

“Build it and they will come” approaches to self‑service don’t work. Instead, nudge service consumers to adopt self‑service with the influence of early adopters and in‑the‑moment reminders.

Key insights

  • Build momentum for self‑service adoption with the help of pull marketing techniques that include targeted branding, referrals, and peer‑to‑peer coaching.
  • Highlight the immediate benefits consumers can get when they opt for self‑service.

Despite the obvious benefits of self‑service, people have a tendency to stick with their old behaviors, like directly calling the service desk for support. This is why a “build it and they will come” approach to rollout is guaranteed to fail. To keep your self‑service investment from falling through the cracks, use pull marketing techniques like targeted branding, referrals, and peer‑to‑peer coaching.

Step 1: Give self‑service a brand that highlights its benefits

Organizations typically promote self‑service only as a new added feature. While this may help in building awareness of the solution, it doesn’t help consumers change their behavior. To truly get the ball rolling, brand your self‑service as an effortless, anytime, anywhere solution to their service needs.

Effective branding messages communicate:

  • A simple, memorable message – “Take control of your needs.”
  • Why customers should use it – “Never wait in a line again!” “No more calls on hold.”
  • When customers can use it – “Anytime, anywhere, on any device!”
  • How it aligns with organizational values – “Excellence at work!”

Step 2: Highlight self‑service benefits in the moment

Old habits die hard. Sometimes even when service consumers are aware of self‑service benefits, their old ways, like calling for help, seem easier, even though they’re not.

Remind your consumers of their self‑service options and the immediate advantages of using them—this will nudge them toward adoption. Try some of the in‑the‑moment nudges pictured below to drive self‑service adoption.

Figure 17: Advanced configuration of ServiceNow’s Service Portal for highlighting self‑service benefits in the moment


Figure 18: Service Catalog integrated with knowledge base to nudge users to self‑serve instead of submitting a request (out‑of‑the box)


You don’t always need to provide a great deal of data—all service consumers need is a little reminder that they should try self‑service.

With the ServiceNow Service Portal, you can make your self‑service widgets more attractive to consumers by configuring them using the widget context menu. This context menu can help you create nudges, like how long a consumer waits on hold versus how long it takes to self‑serve.

Step 3: Use early adopters’ influence to change old behaviors

As with any new product, self‑service adoption follows a bell curve. There will be a few early adopters who don’t require a lot of convincing to use it—and some probably never will. Between these poles is a large middle‑of‑the‑road population that needs just a little encouragement to make the shift.

Be sure you engage early adopters and use their influence to reinforce self‑service benefits. Here are a few ways you can engage your early adopters and encourage your middle‑of‑the‑road population to adopt quickly:

  1. Build knowledge‑based communities – Provide a platform for service consumers to connect with each other to share experiences, ask questions, and help each other. Make sure you include plenty of information and distribute it in a consumable format. When you use ServiceNow Customer Service Management, you can also use the community to help you create knowledge base articles to add to your self‑service solution.
  2. Figure 19: The Harvest Knowledge option on Now Platform (Kingston release, out‑of‑the‑box)

  3. Highlight early adopters as self‑service champions or brand ambassadors – It’s easier to trust that something is real once we’ve seen some evidence. When it comes to self‑service, the evidence of its benefits comes from early adopters’ success, so market your early adopters as self‑service champions. Share their success stories on posters and give them all‑star status. Task your self‑service champions with helping other consumers who are struggling with adoption.
  4. Create a friendly competition –  Gamification is an effective marketing technique that quickly engages consumers with a product or service. Instead of using traditional push marketing, build inherent momentum with the help of friendly competitions, such as weekly quizzes on self‑service functionality, cross‑team self‑service usage dashboards displayed publicly, and small giveaways for first‑time users.

Tools and resources

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