ServiceNow IT Service Management vs Customer Service Management

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3 minute read

Prior to the Istanbul release, the only option for serving external customers with ServiceNow was to engineer the ITSM platform for that purpose. This worked okay, but it was time-consuming both to design it and maintain it, and this method opened customers up to risks.

With Istanbul came the Customer Service Management (CSM) module. Finally, a dedicated solution for external service. CSM is designed specifically to serve your external customers. It’s a dedicated, intuitive way for your customers to engage with your customer service agents, access a library of knowledge articles, and take action on their cases.


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Despite all this, we’ve noticed a number of customers are still using ITSM to serve their external customers. While ITSM and CSM provide a similar functionality suite, there are significant features and limitations of each, depending on the use case. So if this sounds like you, we put together some of the key differences between ITSM and CSM and the circumstances in which you’ll want to use each:


Provide a Centralized Database

ServiceNow ITSM:

When your employees have issues or need assistance with their technology, they log a ticket in your ITSM portal. These tickets are centralized so your analysts can track, manage, and report on incidents. With all this information logged, you can leverage the robust analytics and reporting tools built into the ServiceNow platform to uncover trends in your data which facilitates an operating model rooted in continuous improvement.
ServiceNow CSM:
ServiceNow CSM also creates a centralized hub of incident information, allowing for the excellent reporting and analytics inherent to ServiceNow ITSM. However, it does this without the risk of your customers accessing proprietary information. In addition, CSM allows all your customer service agents to access the full history of logged customer interactions. This eliminates the doctor’s office effect: the frustration your customers feel when they must explain their situation multiple times to different agents as their case escalates. 


Create a Living Knowledge Base 

ServiceNow ITSM:
With a centralized database comes the ability to create a living library of knowledge base articles. With ITSM, your Service Desk agents can add, modify, and retire articles to ensure they always have the most up-to-date information to reference and attach to incidents. This enables you to standardize resolution processes and track incidents to quickly and accurately uncover the root cause of the problem.
ServiceNow CSM:
The knowledge base you are sharing with your customers through the ServiceNow CSM platform will be different from your internal knowledge base. These are usually designed to provide information about common incidents to help your customers resolve their issues before they even need to call your support team. Plus, you can automatically filter articles for your customers based on their assets and entitlements. Let’s say a customer has purchased 3 of the 5 products you sell. When they access the knowledge base they won’t get bogged down or confused with articles related to the 2 products they don’t own. Information served up to them is relevant to their specific purchases.



Enable Self-Service Options

ServiceNow ITSM:
Self-service options can do more for your business than just letting your end-users reset their own passwords. It’s a mechanism by which you empower your employees to work smarter and faster while keeping them within your defined list of approved technology. The service catalog in ServiceNow ITSM automates workflows and approvals to improve the customer experience, accelerate service delivery, and reduce operational costs.
ServiceNow CSM:
Self-service in CSM lets your customers take the reins when it comes to troubleshooting and case management. They can find answers to their questions and issues and attempt to find a resolution on their own. Or, they can access a portal where they are able to submit and track cases and easily communicate with your support staff as needed.
Field Service Management is included as part of the ServiceNow CSM suite. Field Service Management allows your customers to schedule appointments with a field service technician. Your customers and technicians will no longer need to spend valuable time on the phone to create an appointment. Instead, customers can easily access a calendar with available dates and times and schedule it for themselves.

Reduce Ticket Volume Over Time
In both ServiceNow ITSM and CSM, all of these processes lead to reduced ticket or case volume, which gives your analysts and support agents more time for higher-impact activities like root-cause analysis and proactive customer service. By giving your internal end users and external customers the right tools, you'll meet (or perhaps even exceed!) key business outcome objectives such as increased employee productivity, improved customer retention, and a healthier bottom line.

Find What Works for Your Business
Having worked with over 1,800 companies worldwide, we understand that every company has different dynamics and needs for how they leverage their technology investments to improve customer experience. However, there is one commonality that always shines through: the desire to deliver a consistent superior product and service experience to new and existing customers. 

If you're just starting or are in the middle of discussions about using ServiceNow ITSM or CSM to move the needle with delivering exceptional customer experience, we're here to share ServiceNow CSM success stories. Simply reach out to us at


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