Self Service


Times have changed. More people today prefer self-service over talking to a company representative.  They use self service online at home and they now expect it at work.  If you are a customer, the expectation of self service is even more important.  If they don't receive it, it lowers their perceived value of the company.

Although the phone call or email does make sense for many issues, being able to submit an issue online or use online chat is invaluable. Many people even prefer to figure out an answer themselves.  

This is a common statement by companies without self service:

My customers and employees are old school and won't use it.

This might have been true ten years ago, but not in this futuristic world of 2016.  If self service is done right, both employees and customers alike will embrace self service capabilities. People now want and seek out self service.  

Self Service Tickets in the 1970s


First Point of Contact

For employees, the self service experience forms their opinions on internal support.  It is often their first experience with the company during onboarding or initial questions.  Many people hate it when you "need to know someone" to get help.  It quickly means the new company you are working for is disorganized.

For customers, knowledge searching and self service are often the first touch point for help. Poorly implemented self service means support in undervalued by the company and so are their existing customers.

Not to mention the 24/7 availability.  Self Service is always there for your employees and customers.

Time and Costs

Each phone call and technician assistance costs time and more importantly money.  Using self service can eliminate phone calls, and lowers the amount of technician time.  It just saves money.  

Many businesses hide their support number within a self service site.  This is no mistake!


If you are an employee, getting help shouldn't be difficult.  You want to work for a place that knows how to get things done.

For customers, good customer service will drive loyalty and in turn you will buy more.  Good customer support can be a source of good reviews.  The value of this can be dramatic to company success.


Service Portal

From the ServiceNow Wiki on the Service Portal:

Service Portal is a simple way for you to configure an intuitive interface for your users. It interacts with the underlying ServiceNow platform, so you can access any platform components in the portal. 
Service Portal was designed to be accessible for a variety of users. Less technical users can make basic configuration changes to the UI using Branding Editor and other components of Service Portal. For a more moderate level of configuration, users can edit and extend portals, pages, and widgets. More advanced users can use the development tools provided in Widget Editor to write AngularJS, SCSS, and Javascript to power a portal. Advance web designers can also create rich web applications right on the ServiceNow platform.

Service Portal most often is known for self service, however you can build many different kinds of portals with it.  It is offered in Helsinki to replace the old Content Management System (CMS).

The Service Portal can be used for employee self service, customer self service, or both.  You can create multiple portals or have a combined solution for both employees and customers. How you build your self service site is up to you. It is possible to make it look like your corporate intranet site, or create something completely original. The truth is that that your creativity is the only limit to building a self service solution in ServiceNow. 

The Service Portal is truly a powerful self service solution. 

A lot of the old customers will use their current CMS solution for a long time.  ServiceNow continues to support CMS in current and upcoming releases. If you have existing CMS sites and activate Service Portal on your instance, your CMS sites will continue to work. CMS and Service Portal are completely separate.

Companies will want to migrate to the Service Portal eventually.  The old CMS sites just can't compete with the effort that ServiceNow did with the Service Portal. The good news is that you could use a lot of your old CMS styles and graphics in the new Service Portal. Also you can provide a "release" of the new service portal to everyone too!  Claim it as if you built it, you bought it!

Side note.  Here is a great customization for Service Portal to check out:

Service Portal Search / Display Multiple Knowledge Bases & Service Catalogs

Click here for videos on the Service Portal.

Service Catalog

A service catalog provides an employee and/or customer facing view of all your available service and products provided by the departments participating in your company.

A service catalog can generate any type of ServiceNow record including incidents, demands, stories, enhancements, etc. However most often it is setup to generate Requests.

The Service Catalog application allows you to define and manage all aspects of your service catalogs, including the ability to define the available catalog items, define specific request fulfillment workflows, and create customizable catalog portal pages.

Using a service catalog has distinct advantages in ServiceNow.  Often it provides the biggest impact to your organization, in comparison to other ServiceNow application implementation.

  • Self Service - The service catalog provides an easy "one-stop shop" self service opportunity for your employees and customers. Instead of knowing the right person, or the correct sharepoint site, you can just refer them to your Service Catalog.
  • Standardized Approach - provide a common and repeatable processes for request fulfillment.  Don't "reinvent the wheel" for every new request you receive.
  • Sets Expectations - with delivery time, you can set expectations for request fulfillment and wonder less when things will be completed.
  • Multiple Item Ordering - order multiple items at once, just like online shopping
  • User Questions and Answers - Ask users the right questions ahead of time and don't waste time on the phone or chat.
  • Detailed Descriptions and Instructions to user - This tells the end user all about the item and gives them time to consider what they are ordering

The Service Catalog is the most difficult item in ServiceNow to create in terms of time.  However it is often the most valuable and worth the effort.

Know what you are getting into when you start creating a catalog:

  • Set Expectations. Due to the limitless nature of workflow in Service Catalog items, you can have a lot of discussion you never had previously.  Employees can request the process they have always wanted.  Set expectations. Not all catalog items are worth the effort to create, and some do take time to build and alter.
  • Costs - Each catalog item takes time to build, both in developer and business analyst time.  That costs money.  In terms of overall employee productivity it is worth the cost, but budget accordingly.
  • Consistancy - Building catalog items you can copy and reuse for other catalog items reduces development time and adds familiarity to the user experience.

Service Catalog Request Fulfillment

The power of Request Fulfillment is within the workflow.  Here are some of the things workflow can do:

  • Approvals to users, groups, or managers
  • Multiple Task Generation to specific groups and individuals
  • Orchestration and Scripting
  • And much more!

You can build some complex processes and organize your delivery with Request Fulfillment.

Service Catalog Item Workflow

Unfortunately these features can come at a cost. The three-tiered structure of Requests, Requested Item, and Catalog Tasks can be confusing to users. In turn, companies often want to use just incident management instead. However Incident Management doesn't provide the features that Request Management has.

In terms of ITIL, requests and incidents should be different too.

  • An incident has a process to ensure normal service operation is restoration as quickly as possible and the business impact is minimized
  • A request is formal request from a user for something to be provided – for example, requesting a mobile phone, virtual desktop, or PC Refresh, requesting system access, etc.

When is the right time for a company to start using Request Management?  

  • Maturity - It depends a lot on company maturity and readiness.  Large enterprise customers compared to smaller commercial customers have better success, however that isn't always true.
  • Previous ITSM Experience - If they had used a system that had tasks before and the concept is not new.
  • Process Driven - If the company has a process driven environment
  • Management Buy-in - If the management buys into the framework and promotes it within the organization
  • Knowledge - Good training and champion enablement teach employees the structure and workflow concept


Knowledge Management provides tremendous benefits to your company if implemented:

  • Empower your users to easily search for answers themselves
  • Quickly relay information to your customers and employees.
  • Stop incidents before they are created by using Incident Deflection
  • Give your users community assistance and workforce engagement with Social Q&A
  • Reduce incident escalations by using actionable KB articles

Knowledge Management Home Page

How to make your Knowledge Management great

  • Answer Focused - More articles is not better. Big articles isn't better either.  When building knowledge base articles focus on providing answers, and not just content
  • Navigation - Create good categories and search relevance.  Monitor top search inquiries and popular articles so that users can find the articles they are frequently looking for.
  • Feedback - Respond to ratings and feedback and improve knowledge articles over time
  • Content Format - Create a consistent message and design in the articles so they are easy to follow

Knowledge Article in the Service Portal


I wrote an entire article about the Customer Service Management application you can check out.

The CSM application isn't a minor addition to ServiceNow.  It is an omni-channel customer service solution that not only improves customer satisfaction, but looks great as well!

CSM is optional to use for customer service, but can really be worth it.


The system status feature of the Service Portal doesn't have documentation yet.  However it uses the Task Outage feature of ServiceNow to keep track to Business Service status.

Many companies have written their own code to make this happen and now that is not needed. This will be a popular application in ServiceNow.

Service Portal System Status