University Answers Queries Quicker with ServiceNow

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At the University of South Carolina, requests for technical support and general information continued to mount both from inside and outside the university community.

Those requests could go to different people in different areas of the university’s IT department, meaning some could fall through the cracks without ever being resolved. As the number and complexity of the queries grew, it became increasingly evident that the school needed a central way to manage all of it, said Trevor Jerue, the university’s knowledge manager for the division of information technology. So during the fall semester of the 2019-2020 academic year, the university decided to centralize its customer service.

After briefly examining several solutions, the university chose ServiceNow’s Customer Service Management product, which enables Jerue’s department to do the following:

  • initiate automated solutions to common requests, such as address changes, warranty registrations, and password resets;
  • complete requests and get answers in a conversational format with a chatbot; and
  • find answers to common issues using knowledge content.

The university had already been using other ServiceNow solutions, so choosing the company’s CSM solution was an easy decision, Jerue says. “It would be a natural fit to sort of make the onboarding more simplistic for both internal and external users. ServiceNow provided too much value to our organization, so it was an opportunity we couldn’t miss.”

It took a few months to customize the solution for the university’s unique technological and staffing needs, Jerue adds. “We wanted to develop a process that would be universal across our entire division and potentially even beyond, so we could have multichannel approaches.”

Detailed training was essential, according to Jerue. “We were hyper-focused on our service desk because they are the ones who do the customer service, day in and day out. And they are the strongest facilitators to drive this centralized process.”

The training included educating customer support personnel on how the customer service management product and its agent workspace module (within CSM) work, Jerue says. “We also needed to give a facelift to some of our other service channels, such as chat. We also integrated the virtual agent.”

The university went live with the solution at the beginning of February 2020, right at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing much faster service to its constituency ever since.

“We’ve been able to reduce what was a many-step process with several different tickets,” Jerue says. “We’ve reduced that down to just a few clicks so our agents are able to work much faster than previously.”

As a result, agents resolved an average of 80 percent of calls on first contact, a 16 percent improvement. During the third quarter of the calendar year, performance was even better, with 82 percent of issues resolved on first contact.

Agents are also working across channels more efficiently, Jerue adds. “Before, we would need dedicated personnel for each of those service channels because of how long it would take to complete a transaction.”

The university has also improved the efficiency of its virtual agent. “We’ve been able to front-load inquiries so that customers can get answers to some of the common problems or issues they may be experiencing. We’ve also been able to beef up our knowledge articles and support mechanisms to deliver more value for our customers on that front,” Jerue says.

The knowledge articles have been particularly helpful for agents in finding solutions for customers, with agents accessing them 10 percent more than they were previously,

As a result of being able to provide better information more quickly from the virtual agent, chat volume has declined by up to 6 percent, according to Jerue.

The university is now expanding its use of the ServiceNow solution outside of the IT and tech support realm to reach other areas of the university, Jerue says. 

The Payoff

Since adopting ServiceNow, the University of South Carolina has acheived the following:

  • resolved an average of 80 percent of calls on first contact, a 16 percent improvement from the previous year;
  • during peak volume in the third quarter of 2020, resolved 82 percent of calls on first contact, a 22 percent improvement from the same period in 2019; and
  • moved more than 5 percent of queries to chat, freeing agents up for other tasks.

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