Reduce Email Processes with ServiceNow Self Service

Recently ServiceNow commissioned Lawless Research to design and conduct a study about the state of work in companies with 500 or more employees.   Their findings help confirm what we already knew, working via email processes is difficult and costly. See Productivity Drain report.

ServiceNow is very timely with this report.  In application software, there is a shift to avoid using email and use self service instead.  Some new applications don't even send email (Workday).  Why is that?  

People are no longer thrilled to get an email.  In fact,  some people get so many emails, they just dread it.  They avoid emails and filter many as they can directly to the trash can.   It is an frustrating and unproductive process to get work done via email.  

People want less emails and want different ways to communicate today.  This article talks about why email is being being downsized at companies, and how you can make it happen with ServiceNow.

People Expect Self Service

People are now requesting self service options online so that they can submit issues, check status, complete other tasks online.  Self Service is now expected, not a bonus. They want a central site to find anything they need from the company.  Tracking down the correct email address or phone number to get support is not a good user experience.  

People expect work software to be as easy to use as it is at home.  They are right.

Self Service is great as an end user, as they require no institutional knowledge to get assistance.  They don't have to wait on the phone, don't have to wait for email response, it is the new normal for customer services.

It is true that some like to call or email to check on the status of an issue, but show them self service and often those calls/emails are reduced and time/money is saved.

Customizable solutions like ServiceNow CMS and Service Catalog build the self service sites that people expect.

In a work situation, using emails to get things done is much slower than using an application like ServiceNow.  People want as quick as service as possible.

For example, by using ServiceNow Self Service, you can ask the end user specific questions about their issue and have that issue routed automatically to the appropriate group.  Just emailing ServiceNow email account is slower as they need to take extra steps to route the issue and often need to contact the user back for more information.  

In ServiceNow Geneva, "Connect" is going to change how people communicate and how issues are solved.   You can instantly talk with multiple people about an incident and the comments are stored in the incident.  Doing this by email instead is just not as fast or collaborative.

Not Everything is an Incident

If you are emailing in your issue to the helpdesk, ServiceNow is often setup to just classify inbound emails as incidents.  However, not every issue is an incident. Via ITIL terms:

An incident has a process to ensure normal service operation is restoration as quickly as possible and the business impact is minimized

An incident needs to be solves as quickly as possible.  Although my new hardware request is important, I don't think people need to drop everything to get me an iPad. Many issues are not incidents and are requests or other types of records.  In ServiceNow, requests have these advantages over incidents.

  • Multiple Item Ordering
  • Detailed Descriptions and Instructions to user
  • User Questions and Answers
  • Workflow and Orchestration

In order to classify records as requests and create less incidents, not using inbound email and using Self Service instead is preferred.

Workflow and Automation

By using an application like ServiceNow instead of email, you can generate tasks to multiple users to complete and consistently follow a process.  You can insure security by adding approvals.  You can even use orchestration to completely automate setup tasks.


Recently ServiceNow commissioned Lawless Research to design and conduct a study about the state of work in companies with 500 or more employees.   See Productivity Drain report.

In the study, most manager describe work processes as time consuming or frustrating.  44% of managers agreed that using email and spreadsheets for managing work reduces productivity

If everyone is using email to track their work, as a manager you are blind to many of the issues that many occur.

  1. Utilization and Status.  You don't know if a person is overallocated/underallocated.  You are making guesses on their workload and what they are working on.  Sure they can send you a status report, but it is a lot easier to just login and see their status.  
  2. PTO/Sick Time.  If you use ServiceNow to track work, you can more easily fill in for people out-of-the-office.
  3. Monitor Communications.  Have an employee communicate with clients not the best? You can see that in the application and help them communicate better.  
  4. Prioritize and improve tasks.   When you can see a person's daily work in ServiceNow, you can see ways to improve that.  You'll find out they do tasks that maybe are not needed anymore, or can find ways to help speed up work.
  5. SLAs and Expectations.  Setting up SLAs is good for both the manager and employee in that you both know what is expected.  It gives you visible goals and

There is exponential impact to this.  If you take 500 managers, and look at all the spreadsheets, status reports, and manual tasks employees have to fill out for their manager.  It is a lot of wasted spending.

Collectively across the United States, companies are spending $575 billion a year on these unnecessary tasks and inefficiencies.
That equals 3.3% of the gross domestic product of the United States or approximately the combined annual profits of America’s 50 largest public companies.*

* This was calculated by the following. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014 Occupational Outlook Handbook) the median salary for a manager is $88,885/year. The number of managers in US (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014 Labor Force Statistics) is 16,199,000. Multiplying 88,885 by 16,199,000 is $1,439,848,115,000/year. Forty percent of that is administrative work that equals $575,939,246,000/year. According to the GDP (Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2014 GDP) is $17.42 trillion. Dividing 17.42 trillion by 575,939,246,000 equals 3.3% of GDP.

ServiceNow Geneva is further reducing emails

Emails from ServiceNow are being reduced in ServiceNow Geneva.

  • Email bundling. Geneva Connect has email bundling.  Communications can be bundled into a single email.
  • Inactive emails. Emails are not turned on for some new applications on purpose.  Upgrading to Geneva can also give you a chance to further deactivate any extraneous notifications.
  • Notification Preferences and Alert Indicator. There is a notification bar in Geneva for alerts.  You can turn off email notifications and use that system in Geneva if you want.

ServiceNow can help

ServiceNow has the tools to help reduce email and admin work. From Self Service, Service Catalog, Workflow, Orchestration, Discovery, Work Queues, etc, there are many ways to improve your processes.

Learn more about ServiceNow at their website.