Chatbots – The Future of IT Support
The way users communicate with the businesses has evolved rapidly i.e. Transition from traditional channels such as email, phone to a more real-time conversational messaging platform. Automation technology such as Artificial Intelligence has already made footprints in customer support and it has started in IT support and IT Service Management (ITSM). Businesses mainly aim for two main factors i.e. improving efficiency and minimizing cost.
Industry reports estimate $8 billion in annual savings from chatbots, with 80 percent of businesses considering implementing them
Besides our personal lives, Artificial Intelligence revolutionizes our work environment in the way we communicate with other functions and in our day-to-day job. In the digital ecosystem, real-time engagement is key to gain a competitive advantage and deliver a great experience. IT users are not willing to fill up a lengthy ticket form and wait for hours to get a response.
Advancements in Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Deep Learning have resulted in more practical use cases of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
What is a Chatbot?
A chatbot is an AI application that interacts with users, using a conversational platform. AI, Machine Learning (ML) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) are used in the development of a chatbot. Chatbots engage in real-time human-like conversations powered by AI/ML/NLP technologies to make everyday jobs simpler, easier and more efficient.
Chatbots improve overall ITSM efficiency and productivity by handling routine employee issues much faster. Automation is a key business priority among IT leaders today and therefore, chatbot is a next-gen automation tool in order to achieve more with less. Chatbots deflect trivial tickets being sent to human agents. When chatbots are used for IT support, virtual agents interact with the users through a conversational UI to solve queries faster and be available 24/7. Chatbots are programmed to learn from the past encounters and they continuously evolve.
Let us now look at the disadvantages of traditional channels and why users are frustrated.
Source: State of Chatbots 2018
According to the State of Chatbots report 2018, Chatbots usage percentage is 15%. Though it is low compared to traditional channels, its usage is growing rapidly over the past months. There are clear reasons explained below why users are deflecting away from traditional communication channels.
Frustrations over traditional channels are:
- The response is not immediate and waiting time is high
- Too cumbersome to find answers for simpler queries
- Too hard to understand and navigate the portal
- Takes too long to resolve any simple query
Chatbot Use Cases in ITSM
IT cannot increase the number of agents proportionate to the number of tickets. Chatbots come to the rescue here. Routine Incidents and service requests are answered by the chatbots. Relevant self-help articles are suggested to the users that help in ticket deflection. Virtual agents ensure real-time, consistent and personalized interactions with end users improving customer satisfaction. Chatbots deliver consistency in terms of language, response time and availability. However, chatbots do not replace human agents as they are involved in solving complex Tier II and Tier III queries.
Ticket Categorization & Assignment
Ticket categorization consumes a lot of time within the service desk. Chatbots simplify the process by intelligently categorizing tickets to the agent group based on the type of issue. They consider different criteria for ticket classification and also evolve from the past learnings. If the ticket cannot be resolved by the chatbot, it is assigned to the right agent by giving a full context of what happened so far.
Password reset is the most common ticket for the service desk. Agents spend a lot of time resolving this transactional query. With the introduction of AI, password resets are handled by the chatbots which connect to the back end to set up a temporary password for the user. All these are done seamlessly without any manual intervention.
This is a type of service request that users generally request for. Chatbots understand the type of request, requester job title, department and send approval to the respective management to grant access to the respective application. Similarly, chatbots automate access de-provisioning for users.
Chatbot not only helps end users but also helps agents in solving their requests. For example, an agent requests for a helpdesk ticket volume report. Chatbot prepares this report and delivers to the agent instantly. Therefore, chatbots are not just for customers but also assist agents in doing their work more efficiently. Bots are proactive in informing agents about any major incident. For example, bots can broadcast messages internally within an organization.
Service request and change approvals are common within the IT service desk. These tickets’ resolution generally gets delayed waiting for the right approval. Chatbots, in this case, automate the workflow and get instant approval by notifying all the respective approvers. Similarly, employee onboarding/offboarding is automated through chatbots by allocating all the required resources.
Knowledge Management is the key to efficient self-service. It helps largely in ticket deflection and is a great source of self-help. Chatbots are useful in suggesting the right articles and getting a real-time feedback. Chatbots auto-suggest relevant articles to the users. They identify knowledge gap based on the aggregated ticket data and identify missing knowledge articles. Based on the ticket resolution provided, new knowledge articles are created.
- Intelligent search
- Smart solution suggestion
- Gap identification
- Creation of solution articles
Coverage – Number of questions that the Chatbot is able to answer correctly
Accuracy – Whether suggestions are useful or not
Deflection – Number of questions the Chatbot is able to answer without any human intervention
Chatbot adoption has to be driven from top-down. The onus lies on the management to communicate the value and do a pilot-run with agents. It is important to insist that bots are not here to replace human agents whereas to complement them to do a better job.
24/7 Availability – This improves the overall response time for users’ queries and provides round the clock availability. This results in the overall improvement of resolution time and productivity.
Faster ticket resolution – Since chatbots are powered by AI and ML technologies, overall resolution rate increases thus improving customer satisfaction. Faster ticker resolution also means restoring business as early as possible.
Proactive engagement – Chatbots are intelligent enough to predict an incident and report a ticket. Proactive support saves cost by eliminating delays and major service outage. Chatbots proactively inform agents about any potential SLA violation.
Cost optimization – Chatbots deflect routine Tier I tickets which ultimately reduces the overall cost incurred. Service desk agents need not worry about routine tickets and focus on resolving complex issues.
If you haven’t started thinking about chatbots yet, now would be a good time to initiate the change in your org, than getting left behind the curve. You can learn more about AI in ITSM here.
Cover Image by Nidhi Shah
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