Digital Transformation

A Look Behind ServiceNow’s K20 Keynote: Two Helpful Tools for Unlocking the Platform’s Magic

ServiceNow flow designer

This year’s keynote for Knowledge lived up to its title, “Dream,” sharing seemingly magical examples of how the ServiceNow platform continues to solve complex digital challenges. After watching Bill McDermott, CJ Desai and Many Lokey discuss the future of the platform, I haven’t been able to stop envisioning the exciting future of work that lays before us, even amidst today’s challenge of a global pandemic.   

For those of us who were dazzled by the keynote, some may be waving off the possibilities discussed in the presentation, thinking our company would never be able to do something like that. My goal for this blog is to show you that these tools aren’t necessarily magic or a dream that is far from reality, but rather a device that is easily within your reach to instill change in your business, and, to steal the words of Fred Luddymake the world of work, work better for you 

So, if, like me, this presentation is still on your mind weeks after its release, keep reading to learn about two valuable ServiceNow tools that work to make this so-called dream a reality for your organization.  

Over time, companies around the world have focused on creating and maturing their systems of record and enabling fulfillers to work more efficiently. It’s now time to expand this development by making ServiceNow the system of action, which means providing end-users with the same great experience. No matter where you are in your roadmap, ServiceNow can meet you and your business at any stage to optimize your digital transformation. 

You may have a few questions floating around your head, like: how do we get there? Where do we start? Is our company the right size to start on a project like this? Do we have the necessary products to get us to this level? While it’s important to consider these factors, I assure you that you’re closer to getting started than you think you are. While certain ServiceNow’s capabilities may seem far-fetched for companies that are in the early of their digital transformation, I would like to highlight two main capabilities that can kickstart your company’s innovation or elevate your ServiceNow journey to the next level. 

Virtual Agent 

Virtual Agent is a capability that allows users to interact via chat conversations to obtain information, get help on existing issues, and make requests. In short, ServiceNow’s Virtual Agent tool makes it easy for everyone to quickly get what they need. While early chatbots were full of errors and used oddly formal language, ServiceNow’s Virtual Agent is a glimpse into the future, using a simple, easy-to-understand conversation tone to provide a convenient and positive service experience to users. With multistep conversations, ServiceNow’s Virtual Agent can assist users with several inquiries within one single conversation, saving the customer and organization time in resolving issues.  

By deflecting tickets, reducing call volumes, and automating common requests, Virtual Agent eases a workload off of employees who have to handle requests which could otherwise be easily automated. Virtual Agent delivers great user experiences and provides improved self-service capabilities to both customers and employees so they can get access to round-the-clock help across various channels. The beauty of ServiceNow’s Virtual Agent is that it can run anywhere you need it: in portals, Slack, Facebook Messenger, Microsoft Teams, and more 

Pre-built conversational topics are another noteworthy highlight of the tool. They make it easy to quickly publish AI-powered chatbot conversations with the use of customizable templates for common IT, HR, and customer service scenarios.  

 Another special perk is the Virtual Agent Designer, which enables users to build and test conversations without advanced coding skills. Instead, it uses drag and drop elements to set and view the entire conversation flow, making it easy to go further with branching, looping, and scripting. Virtual Agent Designer gives us a straightforward graphical interface to create the conversation path with multiple outputs and solutions based on the trajectory of the conversation. Predictive intelligence (Natural Language Understanding) models helps the Virtual Agent to understand and process what the user is saying by using natural sentences. With its Natural Language Understanding, Virtual Agent interprets texts before orchestrating the actions required to satisfy the user’s request.  

Lastly, for when users need to talk with a real human being, Virtual Agent offers the ability to smoothly transition conversations over to a human agent, transferring the conversation history to provide the human agent with situational context so they can quickly resolve user issues.  

So how does one get started with Virtual Agent? The best way to roll out Virtual Agent is to identify your organization’s most frequently asked questions and requests. After that, use the following process… 

Here is a simplified process suggestion for those ready to roll out their Virtual Agent but aren’t sure where to start: 

  1. Identify the admins or specialized admins who will be in charge of creating conversation topics. System administrators can create chat conversations and publish them to your production environment. It’s also common for system admins to have a backlog of work, and thus, may encounter a time delay in posting those critical conversations. While Sys Admins are busy, this is a great opportunity to grow your citizen developer teams by dedicating a person (or multiple people on your team) to create the conversation topics specific to your company support and/or process area(s). With no code needed to create conversation topics, anyone on your team can use the drag, drop, and define the interface to create chat conversations in a user-friendly environment. 
  2. Create a template to log the conversation flow and potentials outputs. Before you jump into creating a conversation topic in ServiceNow, it’s important to first define the conversation flow and output using an established template. To streamline this process and ensure your system presents end users with the right message, make sure to double-check there are no communication gaps between those writing the conversations and those who will be interacting with the chatbot. In other words, the person requesting that certain messages be shared via Virtual Agent to end users may not be familiar with the process of message creation, and, therefore, it is very important to document the message and action logic. By creating a common template where team members can document the message/request with all potential answers and output, your organization will enable swift and correct message creation. In turn, this system enables the message creator to consistently provide a roadmap of the conversation with clear instructions on how to answer each question/comment. 
  3. Identify the approval or content validation process, if required. Your company might have certain message curation, proofreading, and/or other internal communication review processes. In such cases, make sure to share message templates and flow with the appropriate team and secure their approval before publishing conversations to customers. 
  4. Execute your process in a timely manner. This will help you get the conversation topics available to your customers when they are most relevant and needed. Today’s world is hectic to say the least; with such short news cycles, the most frequent inquires may change daily so it’s important to establish a solid process and ensure you can create conversations in time to be posted while still relevant and timely for your customers. 

Flow Designer 

“Behind every great experience, there is a great workflow.  

Are you ready to join the workflow revolution? Flow Designer makes it possible for employees -from IT generalists to process analysts – to create digital workflows and automate business processes, without any coding experience necessary. This accessible tool makes it simple to accelerate and expand workflow creation across your business and revamp your business model. By empowering your employees to assume the role of citizen developers, team members can then create automated solutions for themselves, reclaiming thousands of hours of work.  

Key Highlights 

  • Quickly learn to define, create, and manage process flows in a code-free, natural language environment. Flow Designer provides a simple and accessible environment for employees who may not have an extensive coding background.  
  • Create tailored flow components that other team members can use and recycle. With Action designer, employees can share re-usable components of code to automate tasks and remediate events.  
  • Get inbound email triggers and actions, to automate processes like incident and case creation. No code required

Flow designer is intended to be used by system admins and process and business areas. To take advantage of the intended use, invite non-admins to automate their processes. Here are a few points to consider when establishing a process for onboarding business and process teams to use Flow Designer: 

  1. Training – it is important that those who will build process flows are properly trained on how to use the Flow designer. Create an internal training course that can be recorded and available on-demand for current and future enablement. It’s also best practice to create a Q&A or tips and tricks knowledge articles as additional support resources. 
  2. Role management – establish a process for assigning and managing applicable roles to your citizen developers. The process should be easy to allow process and business teams to add and/or change the individuals who will be responsible for creating the process flows. 
  3. Have dedicated admins and process who can provide support to citizen developers when needed. A slack or similar channel is a great way to allow questions and answers to aid those who are new to the Flow Designer. 

With so many experiences shifting online, it’s critical for businesses to support simple and intuitive digital experiences for their customers. To remain a top choice for clients, today’s organizations are looking for ways to revamp their business models, increase innovation, and provide an exceptional experience for their customers.  

 ServiceNow’s platform combines various IT and business products and solutions to provide a complete, world-class experience.  More specifically, the two ServiceNow solutions mentioned in this article make it easier than ever to provide a great consumer experience and connect the value chain. Virtual Agent and Flow Designer are two relatively-simple tools that companies can integrate to quickly improve the experience they provide to users.  

Today’s consumers want instant access to solutions so they can focus on their jobs without spending any overhead time trying to find information. We rely on technology to do calculations, keep track of tasks, and notify us with necessary updates, so why not optimize and automate processes and procedures within business units to free up time for employees to focus on other tasks and let ServiceNow handle the busy work? As a result, it will shorten the response time (SLAs), provide predictable services to customers, and increase customer satisfaction.  

My personal prediction is that chatbots will be the new “let me google this for you.” People may not always navigate to Knowledge bases for answers (sometimes they may not even know that they are there). Whether it’s because the portal is very busy or they don’t even know where to start, end users are eager to get direct answers to their questions. While search capability has greatly improved over the years, chatbots add a critical human/intelligence aspect that simplifies the search process by returning the exact solutions the end-user is looking for.  

I’m eager to see the future of business and chatbots, but it’s important to note that with a great solution, there is also a great responsibility. While chatbots are a helpful tool, it is extremely important to ensure that the solutions work as intended. If not, ineffective bots will deter users from repeated use in the future, and inefficient automation tasks may cause slowdowns and bottlenecks. Use the tips provided above in our process section to ensure you’re staying on track. To get more help with integrating these tools and more, reach out to speak with an Acorio expert today.