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ServiceNow ITSM vs. CSM – Which one to choose and why?

For most companies, IT Service Management is a well-established process, well supported by a variety of tools, the most important of them usually ServiceNow. It makes complete sense, therefore, that when it comes to supporting other processes, customers turn to what they already know and use.

However, it is important to realize that ServiceNow offers a lot more than ITSM. It is always better to use part of the platform that is made to support your use case, than trying to change the platform according to your requirements.

Why should you spend extra time choosing the correct part of the platform for your use case?

  • You will have less effort in supporting your solution.

  • You will get all the new features from ServiceNow with every upgrade (twice a year!).

    • If you don’t choose the correct option, you will most likely forgo new features that ServiceNow releases often. You might as well lose access to existing features that you did not need at the time of the implementation, but you might find them useful later on.

  • You will have less effort in implementing your solution.

  • You will avoid issues with the license policy.

However, choosing the right tool for the job might not always be easy. This blog will help you to understand the similarities and differences between the two parts of the ServiceNow platform – namely

  1. IT Service Management (ITSM) -The ServiceNow IT Service Management solution provides scalable workflows to manage and deliver IT services to your users.

  2. Customer Service Management (CSM) - ServiceNow Customer Service Management helps you drive customer loyalty with connected digital workflows that join customer service with other departments using AI and workflow to assign, manage, and resolve complex issues end-to-end.


There is a strong resemblance between ITSM and CSM, after all, they both share the powerful ServiceNow platform features, such as:

  • Knowledge management, including the full-text search.

  • Service Portal technology, which allows you to easily configure (or create) web portals with a great user experience, is available for your users.

  • Unifying experience across different communication channels, whether it is the web portal or chat including the highly integrated chatbot.

  • Advanced features, utilizing machine learning, allow you to decrease the workload of your agents and/or improve service quality for your customers, such as predictive intelligence and agent intelligence.

  • Advanced routing and assignment, allowing you to automatically assign tickets to groups with the right skills, with the least workload, and many more criteria.

  • Other features such as surveys, which allow you to quickly and accurately measure your customer satisfaction.

  • The intuitive and powerful user interface for the employees handling tickets’s the latest upgrade is called Agent Workspace.

  • And of course features of the platform, which allow you to rapidly develop your own functionality, such as Flow Designer for designing workflows and automation and Integration Hub for designing integrations with other systems or even using some ready-made and supported integrations, called “Spokes”.

To sum up, with both ITSM and CSM you can leverage what the platform offers.


Supported processes


IT Service Management contains multiple processes actually, these are more or less based on the successful framework named ITIL. Therefore, in ITSM you can find the following processes:

  • Incident

  • Change

  • Problem

And a lot more, including the Configuration Management database.


Process-wise, CSM is much simpler. There is one dominant process, which is called case management and it is up to you to make it as complex (or simple) as you need. Or, you can use it as it is, which in my opinion is usually a good decision.



In ITSM, you have two basic types of users:

  1. Fulfiller – these are for instance employees working on a service desk, or people approving or scheduling changes.

  2. End-users – these users have a limited role in the system, they can request things (i.e. from the catalog) or report incidents, and also interact with the knowledge base.

End-users must be users 100% within your organization (employees or contractors).

You pay for each fulfiller, however, end-users are free of charge, you can have as many as you need.


In CSM, there are also two basic types of users:

  1. Fulfillers – these are your employees, helping your customers fix their issues and answering their questions

  2. Customers (and consumers) – these are your customers, whether business or even consumers. They come to your support system looking for help and advice.

An important change in new CSM license version 5

  • With the new version of the CSM license, you can serve both customers (and consumers) and also internal users

  • With the new version of the CSM license, you can use both customer service management functionalities (such as cases, customer portal) and also ITSM functionalities (such as incidents, changes, and full configuration management)

You pay for each agent, however, customers are free of charge and you can have as many as you need.

Imp Note: for all questions regarding licenses, we recommend you contact your ServiceNow representative. Your contract might be different from the standard, therefore not all information might apply to you.

From the comparison above, it is clear that the main difference between CSM and ITSM is the relationship of end-users to your company. In ITSM, end users are employees or contractors. For simplification, we don’t go into detail about business stakeholders in this article, which is another type of user license you can have.

Data separation and visibility


  • End users see usually only data, that is directly concerning them – requests and incidents created by or for them.

  • A large part of data that is supporting ITSM processes is only available to fulfill users, who are creating, approving changes, and using CMDB.


End users can, under some conditions see cases of other customers:

– If the end-user is a partner of the customer, they can see the cases of the customer.

– If the end-user is within the hierarchy, they have access to cases raised by users in child customer accounts.

End users can see and update other data, such as their assets.

User Management


As already mentioned in the paragraph dedicated to licensing differences, users in ITSM are employees of your organization.

That means the information about users is already located within your identity provider, such as Active Directory. You only have to connect this provider to your ServiceNow instance.


Because users of CSM contain also contacts of your customers and/or consumers, user management is a much more important concern.

Fortunately, CSM has many features to allow your customers to log in.

  • Users can self-register, both customer contacts and consumers. You can leverage an existing workflow to approve the users and also captcha.

  • You can administer the users manually.

  • And maybe the best option is a new feature in Paris – OpenID Single Sign-On. Once you configure the OpenID connection, your customers can log in using Google and other social identity providers.


ServiceNow is renowned for being a great platform for companies and corporations to manage their IT, and increasingly other departments as well, such as HR, finance, facility management, and others. Customer Service Management goes beyond that and allows you to use the platform to serve and support the actual customers of your company.

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