Expectations for customer service are changing fast—and so is the
language around customer service.
A growing list of acronyms and jargon has sprung up due to new
technologies and the dynamic nature of customer service software.
Keeping track of the new terminology can be tough. And when
stakeholders don’t speak the same language, confusion and frustration follows.
As a leader in digital transformation, we’ve had a firsthand look at
how customer service terms and technology has evolved. Use this
glossary to establish a shared language for your organization’s
customer service transformation. Because when we’re all on the same
page, we can have more productive conversations—and make
better-informed choices throughout the buying process.
Artificial intelligence (AI): AI can simulate human
intelligence and do mundane or data-intensive tasks without boredom or
burnout. With today’s abundance of data (and increasing customer
expectations), AI is needed to achieve dramatic efficiency gains and
improve customer and agent experiences.
Automation: The process of converting high-touch and largely
manual business processes into faster and smoother low-touch digital
workflows. If you’ve handed over control of certain processes to your
customer service system, you’ve already stepped into the world of
automation. For customer service, examples in ServiceNow Customer
Service Management include providing a customer self-service
option in a service catalog without contacting an agent, routing a
customer to the agent best able to help them, and creating tasks for
other departments necessary for solving the customer’s problem.
Case deflection: The ability for customers to find answers to
questions without contacting support. Case deflection is a key
component of self-service. You can improve your case deflection rate
by providing your customers with a strong knowledge base and
community, along with a virtual agent (chatbot) and service catalog to
automate common requests. ServiceNow Knowledge
Management provides an out‑of‑the‑box knowledgebase.
Communities: The place where customers come together to
connect, learn, and engage with content, experts, and one another.
This is an essential feature of a self-service strategy. Specific to
refers to the application that facilitates customer collaboration with
peers, experts, and customer service agents.
Configuration management database (CMDB): The ability to build
logical representations of customers’ assets, devices, infrastructure,
or services, and the relationships between them. These details help
to pinpoint specific issues for a customer, especially when those
assets are being operationally monitored. This information can also
be tied to service level agreements (SLAs) to ensure assets are being
maintained or services delivered as defined.
Continual improvement management (CIM): The ability to initiate
and track improvements across the enterprise by aligning people,
processes, and data. Enablement of the CIM
application allows a company to set up roles, groups, and
integration properties. Next, the company can track improvement
initiatives that contain goals to measure success, along with phases
with specific tasks and actions to complete the improvement.
Customer service operations: The team responsible for helping a
company’s customer service team be more productive, work more
effectively, and deliver better service to customers through the use
of new technologies. For example, in a telecommunications company,
customer service operations might both identify new technologies such
as AI or chatbots to reduce agent load while serving customers faster
as well as monitor customers’ products and services to avoid
Digital workflows: Using software and other technology tools to
automate underlying tasks, processes, and manual workflows. This
allows humans to augment their capabilities with smart machines and
shift their focus away from menial, repetitive tasks toward more
creative and analytical work. Digital workflows are increasingly being
adopted for automation to streamline processes across the enterprise.
Workflow automates multistep processes across the platform
consisting of a sequence of activities within a drag-and-drop
Dynamic scheduling: The process of assigning tasks to field
service technicians and optimizing agent schedules to accommodate new
work and shifting priorities. Use it in tandem with ServiceNow Field
Service Management to manage your end-to-end activities.
Gamification: Encourage customers to participate, contribute,
and engage with community content by providing incentives (e.g.,
points, achievement levels, badges) through a system of defined
Geolocation: The ability for field service to track
technicians, plan efficient routes between locations, and calculate
accurate travel times. Learn more by exploring our Field
Service Management application.
Internet of things (IoT): The connection of devices to the
internet and to each other for automated sending, receiving, and
processing of data. As an example, a medical technology company can
monitor equipment at hospitals via the internet. If service is
required, notifications or alerts are sent to customer service agents,
field service technicians, or operations to be addressed. The company
can then send a service technician to perform maintenance before the
equipment fails. With Customer
Service Management, you can take advantage of IoT and Operational
Intelligence (IT Operations Management) to provide real-time
visibility into the operational health of customers’ products and
Knowledge management: The ability to quickly and easily share
support information in knowledge bases for agents and customers. The
Management solution includes workflow and publishing tools along
with service portal integration for an out-of-the-box knowledge
experience for customers and agents.
Machine learning: A type of AI that allows systems to learn
from experience and be trained on large volumes of data to perform
specific tasks. ServiceNow Predictive
Intelligence provides a layer of artificial intelligence that
learns from patterns in historical data. Cases can be categorized,
prioritized, and routed to the best agents to improve efficiency and
increase customer satisfaction. Predictive Intelligence can also be
used in an agent workspace (unified desktop for an agent) to help
agents find related knowledge and community content, similar cases, or
major cases reporting critical issues. This greatly shortens the time
to resolution for customers.
Major issue management (major case management): The ability to
efficiently identify and manage critical issues and tie individual
(yet related) cases to a parent major case that, when resolved, will
solve child cases. The Major
Issue Management feature also identifies customers who have not
yet reported the issue and proactively creates cases on their behalf,
helping to manage internal and customer communications until the issue
Natural language understanding (NLU): A branch of artificial
intelligence (AI) that uses computer software to understand input made
in the form of sentences in text or speech format. Model
builders and inference services enable the system to learn and
respond to human-expressed intent, understanding word meanings and
contexts to infer user or system actions. ServiceNow has added NLU to
Virtual Agent functionality in its New
Net Promoter Score® (NPS): A measure of customer experience
that predicts business growth. The gold standard for evaluating client
loyalty, your measurement of NPS should be simple, customer-focused,
and easy to configure and track. ServiceNow
Performance Analytics simplifies NPS trend monitoring with
Omnichannel: A cross-channel strategy that organizations use to
improve their customer experience. It provides a single source of
truth for customer conversations by managing all interactions within
one system, eliminating the need for agents to pivot between systems
and making it easier for them to service customers. This is a step
above multichannel systems, where the involved channels are typically
disconnected, e.g. telephone calls are recorded in one silo, while
chat transcriptions are saved in a different system.
Proactive service: The ability to identify and solve a
customer’s problem before they know they have one. Proactive
Customer Service Operations is specifically designed to track
your customers’ digital services, alerting you to service disruptions
and allowing you to notify affected customers up front. Analytics can
also help pinpoint trends indicating issues.
Problem management: The ability to handle the full lifecycle of
all problems, including information about problems, workarounds, and
Management tracks problems across cases to provide valuable
information, particularly for R&D or engineering organizations.
Using the metric of percentage of new critical problems helps reduce
the number and impact of issues over time.
Robotic process automation (RPA): An emerging form of business
process automation technology that automates rules-based business
practices by automating actions within the user interface to
streamline operations and reduce costs. Although AI and robotic
process automation are being used in tandem across enterprises, RPA
has limitations versus using a single-agent workspace with support
from digital workflows.
Self-service: Allowing customers to solve their own issues
through access to online information about their products and services
and automating frequently made requests and tasks. ServiceNow enables
your customers to log into a Customer
Service Portal, efficiently access existing information in Communities
Management, and use automation to perform common tasks via the Service
Catalog and Virtual
Skill-based routing: The ability to auto-assign and route tasks
to the most qualified agent based on the skills required to perform a
task. As an example of a skill-based
work assignment, you can configure the routing of cases from a
particular country to agents who speak that country’s language.
Unified desktop: A single interface that consolidates and
integrates customer service applications for agents. The ServiceNow Agent
Workspace is a configurable user interface that gives agents a
fully integrated, intuitive user experience.
Virtual agent: Also referred to as “chatbot” or “virtual
assistant,” virtual agents interface with the customer to quickly get
them what they need. The ServiceNow Virtual
Agent allows organizations to design and build automated
conversations to help customers quickly access information, run
applications such as performance diagnostics, or process transactions
such as creating or looking up a case.
Visual Task Board (VTB): An interactive graphic interface that
simplifies the navigation of multiple task records, lists, and forms.
The ServiceNow Visual
Task Board provides a graphic-rich experience that enables the
management and assignment of tasks across the enterprise and provides
visibility into the status of those tasks.
A common vocabulary equips customer success leaders with language
for customer service transformation and gives teams with the right
knowledge to navigate buying decisions.
Reference this glossary when educating stakeholders and exploring
ways to optimize your organization’s customer service function, and learn
more about ServiceNow® Customer Service Management from
real-world success stories.
Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS and the
NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain &
Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld, and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.