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How AI can improve service desk productivity & staff wellbeing

03 Dec 2018

Article by Soapbox.ai CEO Dion Williams

Artificial intelligence can and is having a hugely positive impact on productivity in service desk operations. A case in point is the knowledge worker sitting on a service desk answering a high volume of repetitive questions. AI can drive automation, which could be anything from answering common questions to providing automated actions based on a particular request. This in turn drives efficiency, and just as importantly employee job satisfaction and mental health wellbeing.

The rise of the virtual agent (chatbot) is a key application of AI helping organisations to “shift left” the level of support from multiple tiers of human interaction on the right of the scale, all the way over to self-help via automation on the left. The lower the human involvement in the process (or the further left on the support scale), the lower the operational expenditure of service desk will be and the sooner the caller can get back to business. 

High volume issues, such as staff being unable to log into their systems because of a forgotten password, are low hanging fruit for organisations to utilise AI automation to deal with such problems without having to take service desk agents away from higher value work to address them. AI can provide a ‘how to’ article or deploy a virtual agent (chatbot) to guide the user through a diagnostic process.

Knowledge management, and specifically knowledge sharing throughout an enterprise, is always a challenge for organisations, as accessible knowledge is key to driving issue resolution, and capturing  knowledge is a challenge. It is vital that you don’t have individuals within your organisation who hold critical business knowledge that has not been shared with other employees, as the business could be left in a vulnerable position if such an individual was to leave the organisation and take that information out the door with them.   

Nowadays, we often incentivise agents to publish articles, but sometimes they still don’t create this content as it is a step out of their role, or it is too difficult to capture. 

This is where AI, paired with a simple, intuitive user interface designed to capture knowledge snippets, or micro-FAQ, can come into its own. An AI can serve up this context-relevant, easy  to read – succinct points to support issue resolution, for example instructions on “I want to connect to WiFi network in meeting room 101” doesn’t need a lot of info about the WiFi network itself. 

More complex knowledge can also be stored, ready to be accessed on demand. AI can capture organisational knowledge so that it’s not only in the service agent’s head but in the system, in order to reduce the dependency on particular service agents and build up experience in the machine, which can in turn enable the agent to be more effective in resolving issues.

AI brings together more knowledge and data sources. A key driver of customer satisfaction is related to how quickly a helpdesk can solve an issue and can it be solved on first contact. We can improve that service desk agent’s efficiency to improve the service experience and resolve more issues at the first point of contact, rather that put the customer through the frustration of being referred to another agent and having to fully explain their issue all over again.

A common frustration of people coming to the service desk is when agents are not aware of previous issues. AI can fix this by providing the agent with the caller’s history in real time so that they know why they are calling without having to ask all over again.

The cost savings by automating customer interactions are huge. For example, a call to a service desk can cost a company up to $25, but the cost of service calls to virtual agents are typically a few cents per enquiry. 

The next step from the text-based virtual agent is the voice assistant. We see a lot of potential for AI to assist in moving more to voice assistant-enabled customer support. Indeed, omnichannel (where all of an organisation’s customer touch points are designed to work together to deliver a seamless customer experience regardless of how the choose to connect with the business) is where organisations are looking to shift, and ultimately, that has to be the goal for any customer-facing organisation. 

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