Customer Workflows: Q&A with Farrell Hough

Farrell Hough
Meet the future of customer service

Managing a large customer service operation is a complex undertaking for any company. It’s even more challenging when that effort requires juggling multiple CRM platforms. Most platforms can’t share information effectively, making it that much harder for customer service agents to provide great experiences.

We asked Farrell Hough, Senior Vice president of Customer Workflow Products, to explain how the Now platform manages that complexity—and helps agents use fewer resources to provide better and faster customer experiences.

There have been enterprise CRM solutions on the market for 20 years now. What’s different about ServiceNow?

The CRM market is made up of four segments: sales, commerce, marketing and service. ServiceNow sits squarely in the service component, the fastest growing component of CRM overall. But 60% of that market is still filled with homegrown solutions. Another 20% are legacy solutions, and the remainder come from our peers in the marketplace.

The large proportion of homegrown solutions means there's a lot of customer pain to solve and a lot of room for ServiceNow customer service management to address that pain.

In the service space, most CRM vendors are really only able to provide case-logging capabilities. I call that reaction management. By contrast, we bring together core capabilities like omnichannel and case management, combined with operational capabilities like service management and service operations.

This creates an end-to-end experience that gets to root causes and solves customer problems.

How would you describe ServiceNow’s vision for customer service management?

We tie in the operational excellence of the rest of the organization. We provide end-to-end, proactive self-service, connecting the customer service agent with the back-end operations team or the engineering team that built the product.

Those teams can help the agent identify the issue and get to the root cause so we can ultimately fix the issue. Customers today have an advantage using Service Now CSM in that they can fix issues once and for all.

How does the Now Platform help deliver great customer experiences?

The Now Platform is unique because users get a platform with a single data model rather than having to integrate myriad data models from different platforms into their customer service workflow. That means they can take full advantage of our core capabilities: machine learning, native mobile experiences, a service catalog that drives self-service requests, a native knowledge base, and the capability to create a self-service portal.

I’ll add that the Now Platform has long been known in the industry for bringing operational excellence to the IT organizations of worldwide enterprises. Customers get to leverage investments they’ve already made for additional use cases, like customer service. So, the customer is not adding another platform or point solution. Instead, this is about extending their investment to create new value through another channel.

ServiceNow is part of a broader ecosystem of IT infrastructure platforms and tools. How do we fit into that ecosystem?

We tend to be one of the four or five major platforms that enterprises are investing in to support the entire organization. These platforms are built to grow and evolve alongside the enterprise.

We can also add in third-party capabilities or integrate different data sources that allow customers to meet the unique requirements of their business. Our New York release has a virtual data source capability that will allow customer service agents to access external information, such as account records, that aren't native in other customer service management tools.

Additionally, the integration hub in our core platform makes it easy to extend integrations to other third parties, building workflows around them with our Flow Designer application.  Those platform capabilities allow us to reach out into the ecosystem and build broader solutions that work well for any of the enterprises that we support.

Everyone in our industry talks about digital transformation. What’s a concrete example of a customer that has used ServiceNow to transform customer workflows?

My favorite example is Nice Software, a leading analytics software company based in Israel. Nice is part of our ecosystem and they have the same vision that we do for improving customer experiences, but they do it with telephony.

Nice was handling about 70,000 customer cases a year, with 1,000 cases coming in every month that needed individual attention.  They weren’t able to assign cases based on agent skills. As a result, cases would often get assigned to the wrong people. 

When the case finally reached an engineer with the proper skills, that engineer often hadn’t encountered the issue before and lacked access to a knowledge base to help with resolution. Consequently, it took an average of 24 days to resolve a case.  

Implementing ServiceNow CSM allowed Nice to automate and accelerate case management. Within a week of implementing Service Now CSM, Nice reduced the volume of assignments by using skills-based routing. Now, required skills are identified during case creation.  ServiceNow automatically routes cases to people with the right skills and availability. By combining  intuitive processes and a more engaging user interface, NICE reduced back-end case volume by 72%, saving $450,000 a year. That’s the power of the Now Platform.



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