How does Virtual Agent help organizations in achieving better results in CSM?

Virtual Agent has been available since many releases on ServiceNow and is now a mature tool. It frees up time for service desk agents and offers a better service to your users, who are either internal, as in the case of ITSM processes, or external, as in the case of Customer Service Management (ServiceNow CSM). How can Virtual Agent leverage our reactivity to the needs of your users?

What is Virtual Agent?

Virtual Agent provides user assistance through conversations within a messaging interface.  The interface is not available only on ServiceNow Service Portal but also on various messaging systems, like Microsoft Teams, Slack or your existing corporate website.

ServiceNow Virtual Agent is proven to help organizations in achieving better results in several areas, including ITSM, HR, and CSM, while constantly improving user experience and satisfaction.

Axel Starosta, ServiceNow Developer at SPOC

Virtual Agent allows you to create tickets, manage them, respond to questions, and fulfil user requests. If it is needed, it transfers the user to the live agent. Thanks to the natural language processing engine, the tool analyzes the keywords and considers the context of a conversation. It has a significant impact on customer experience, and agents’ work, and it enables customers to resolve their issues in real-time.

Virtual Agent
Sources: SPOC

Virtual Agent’s top 3 additional features

Virtual Agent is not just a chatbot – there is so much more to it! It has many solutions to provide the best customer experience. Based on our extensive ServiceNow knowledge and clients’ cases, we believe the following features are the most essential and effective for the ServiceNow instance: NLU engine, pre-built conversational topics and Virtual Agent Analytics.

NLU engine

Natural language understanding allows your Virtual Agent to understand, process and respond optimally to the customers’ needs. Currently, ServiceNow provides an NLU engine with 17 languages supported in the Tokyo release.

You do not have to use ServiceNow NLU. If you opt for Microsoft LUIS or IBM Watson, it is possible to implement it with your Virtual Agent. By applying NLU, your users are free to use natural ways of communication, as if they were in a conversation with an agent, and at the same time, they will receive relevant answers.

In practice, your Virtual Agent will perform more accurately, providing a more positive experience. It can also help derive actionable insights from interactions by removing bias and errors.

Virtual Agent
Source: ServiceNow

Pre-built conversational topics

There is no need to start from scratch and build dialogue flows. Your agents can save precious time with ServiceNow Customer Service Management, HR, and ITSM. Pre-built conversations and reusable topic blocks make it easy to start using the Virtual Agent. 

You can install the pre-build conversational topics that contain a list of topics ready to use and make them available to customers in just a few clicks. Also, the pre-defined conversation flows help users with the most common self-service tasks in each business area.

With Customer Service Management, two topics are available immediately for creating and updating cases. The pre-built models are read-only, and you can’t edit them, but you have the possibility to clone the models and create your own NLU models.

Virtual Agent Analytics

Once VA is installed and active, you will want to see and measure its effectiveness. This is when Virtual Agent Analytics comes in handy. ServiceNow created the analytics tool to measure and objectively evaluate it so the business can value and assess its impact. It is built based on User Experience Analytics

Just as with User Experience Analytics, you can see: 

  • the number of deflections,
  • the amount of active VA instances,
  • conversations occurred,
  • information on most used categories,
  • most used languages.
Virtual Agent
Source: ServiceNow

There are also other useful indicators that can help you understand the usage of VA and how to make it more impactful. You can, for example, refine topics and increase the percentage of issues resolved by VA.

ServiceNow CSM and Virtual Agent

Predefined VA topic conversations enable your customers to get the customer service help they need quickly and efficiently. Integrating NLU models with your virtual agent topics allows chatbots to analyze, understand, and navigate the user to the right topic based on the inferred intent. 

To start with it, you need a Customer Service Management Professional. VA is usually for organizations that automate processes, so it should not be implemented in the first iteration. At this point, you need to understand which requests take up most of the agents’ time and the difficulty in deflecting them. Do users waste much of agents’ time asking about an update on their cases? The deflection is simple and makes a perfect VA use for your ServiceNow Customer Service Management.

To fully use the VA capabilities, you should first activate it and install the appropriate plugins for Virtual Agent and the pre-built conversations. Then it is time to enable the pre-build exchange or create new ones based on the requests identified before to start freeing up your agents’ time. With connected digital workflows, you can drive customer satisfaction.

Take advantage of Virtual Agent in your CSM

By using the VA and all related plugins in your ServiceNow CSM platform, you can create better process workflows and improve the omnichannel experience of your customers. By applying VA with the NLU engine, you not only improve the resolution times but also allow proactive customer service and clear communication. Your agents can manage the tasks better, as they have more time for more complicated issues, and at the same time, your organization reduces costs. Read more about Virtual Agent here, and if you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us!

Virtual Agent
Source: SPOC

CMDB – 4 things you need to do for successful implementation 

The Configuration Management Database has been a hot ServiceNow topic for years. We already know how important it is when it comes to IT decision-making and finding dependencies among processes, people, applications and IT infrastructure. But to fully enjoy all the benefits of CMDB implementation, it is good to get prepared before it is up and running. How? Here you can find a few tips based on our and our clients’ experience! 

What is a configuration management database?

CMDB is a standardized database repository with all the relevant information both about the hardware and software used in your organization and how these components relate to each other. Getting this clear overview of configuration data lets you examine it from different perspectives, finding opportunities for improvement, faster resolution of incidents and fewer errors. Implementing this huge data warehouse and storing information about your IT infrastructure is not an overnight task, but it allows you to have a purpose-built database for configuration management. 

Business benefits of CMDB implementation

Growing organizations face a common challenge: keeping track of all the assets. The great benefit of using CMDB is that you have everything in one place, which means transparency, visibility and improved IT infrastructure management, considering compliance with software license agreements. The risks carried by change deployments can be easily contained through CMDB, ensuring smooth transitions without business disruptions caused by unplanned changes or misconfiguration. Sourcing data from different parts of the business improve the incident management process, helps track changes over time, and automates software discovery processes. With CMDB, you do not stick to a stiff solution, as it changes over time with your organization, reflecting current knowledge and best IT practices. You will not only diagnose and fix costly service outages but also reduce service delivery costs, maximize ROI and accelerate time-to-market for new services.

Explore and find data in CMDB Workspace

The biggest advantages seen by our customers are:

  • Reduced incident volume
  • Reduced number of system outages
  • Improved vulnerability response
  • Increased automation to respond to issues faster

How to implement CMDB

CMDB implementation is not as straightforward as we wish. To make the process smoother for your organization, it is important to prepare the right ground for it. That means some extra work that will pay off when your CMDB is up and running. Investing your time into the following points will help map possible challenges, control the implementation process in the best way possible and ensure that the final result is successful and does not fail to generate value. By identifying the possible issues, like, e.g., lack of people and processes in place to move data into CMDB, you have more power over the CMDB implementation itself.

Data acquisition tools easily populate CI data

#1  Ensure compliance in configuration management

Security starts with proper management of your IT infrastructure. That is why it is so important to first identify and understand your compliance obligations, spot the risks of non-compliance and act to reduce the organizational risks. Understanding the relationships between an organization’s information assets and the applications that use them helps meet the audit and compliance needs. 

CMDB Compliance is a ServiceNow toolset to certify CMDB data – check their correctness and fix any issues. You can audit the CMDB for its adherence to predefined regulatory requirements, internal governance or certificates. 

#2  Apply data centre consolidation & improve security

When you have multiple data centres, your costs are higher, you become more vulnerable and prone to security breaches. Instead of using many servers, storage systems, and networking systems, it is better to have one data centre. Centralization reduces digital footprint, making the organization at the same time less vulnerable to cyber-attacks or risks related to data loss and downtime. It is not only going to reduce management overheads but also costs for your organization. 

You want to reduce and limit the impact of a potential threat against data. Once you have your asset inventory and CMDB in place, you should set up good practices. You could, e.g., allow deep network scanning to ensure only allowed devices are connected. Your database and inventory lists should be up-to-date, establishing a good baseline for all the IT activity. Staying on top of patches and updates for all the assets could lead to more accurate inventory and, consequently, improved security. 

#3  Implement enterprise change management

Enterprise change management is the constant process by which your organization implements and manages changes to maximize change capability. It is all about centralizing the organizational change process, and among its effect, you will find increased ROI, improved business agility or increased effectiveness.  

Change managers can use the CMDB to spot the relationship between different configuration elements that can be affected by a change in the future. Thanks to understanding the relationship between the components, assets can be reconstructed at any time. You can map physical, virtual, and cloud components using asset management and design services. 

You also need impact analysis to get information about the system areas affected due to the change in the particular section or application features. The impact analysis engine goes through CMDB, and located Configuration Items (CIs) expected to have outages. 

#4  Ensure transparency and visibility for innovation

Lack of visibility into service performance causes headaches to many organizations. It equals erratic assumptions, reactive decisions and speculative contexts. That makes introducing innovation a very difficult task. In a perfect world, CMDB should be thought-out and planned. It is not just limited to the selection and implementation of discovery technology to populate your CMDB.  

Knowing where you are and what your shortcomings might be is essential for transparency. When you address governance, configuration management data and technology plan and define methods for populating and maintaining health, there is a big chance for successful visibility for innovation. 

Powerful visualization for understanding CI relationships

 CMDB – make it successful

The above list might seem overwhelming, but by applying each step at the beginning of the CMDB implementation process, you will be able to improve the capability to diagnose service issues, detect root cause problems and find a resolution quickly.

CMDB has great business value. If applied properly, you can model your services and digital products, react in real-time, manage the life cycle of your services, keep the ServiceNow instance healthy, accelerate time-to-market and last but not least, improve processes effectiveness.

Implementing CMDB is a more complex topic; therefore, we encourage you to get some extra help to address the problems and ensure success. Contact us if you want to take advantage of our vast experience and best practices in implementing CMDB in ServiceNow.