The way users communicate with businesses has evolved rapidly, i.e., moving from traditional channels such as email and phone to more real-time and conversational messaging platforms.
Automation technologies such as Artificial Intelligence have left their mark on customer support and are now making their way into IT support and IT service management (ITSM). Companies are interested in two main factors, improving efficiency and reducing costs.
Beyond our personal lives, AI has revolutionized our work environment by communicating with other functions and everyday tasks. Real-time engagement is key to gaining a competitive advantage and a great experience in the digital ecosystem. IT users don’t want to fill out lengthy ticket forms and wait hours for a response.
Advanced natural language processing (NLP) and deep learning have led to more practical use cases for Artificial Intelligence (AI).
What is a Chatbot?
A chatbot is an Artificial Intelligence application that interacts with users through a conversational platform. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning (ML), and Natural Language Processing (NLP) are used to develop a chatbot. Chatbots use AI/ML/NLP technology to conduct human-like conversations in real-time, making everyday tasks more straightforward, easier, and efficient.
Chatbots can handle employees’ day-to-day problems faster, thus increasing the efficiency and productivity of the entire ITSM. Automation is a top business for today’s IT leaders, so chatbots are the next generation of automation tools that can do more with less.
Chatbots transfer trivial tickets to human agents. When chatbots are used for IT support, virtual agents interact with users through a conversational user interface to resolve queries faster and are available 24/7. Chatbots are programmed to learn from past encounters and evolve.
Now let’s look at the shortcomings of traditional channels and why users can get frustrated.
According to the 2018 State of Chatbots Report, chatbot usage is at 15%. Although its usage is low compared to traditional channels, it has been overgrowing in recent months. The following paragraphs explain the apparent reasons why users are moving away from traditional communication channels.
Traditional channels are a source of frustration:
- No immediate answers and long waiting times
- Too much hassle to find answers to simple questions
- Too difficult to understand and navigate the portal
- It takes too long to resolve a simple query.
Chatbot Use Cases in ITSM
IT cannot increase the number of agents in proportion to the number of tickets. Chatbots come to the rescue here. Chatbots handle routine incidents and service requests, and users are suggested relevant self-help articles to help them redirect tickets. Virtual agents provide real-time, consistent, and personalized interactions with end-users, improving customer satisfaction.
Chatbots provide consistency in language, response time, and availability. However, chatbots do not replace human agents as they solve complex Level II and III queries.
Ticket Categorization & Assignment
Categorizing tickets is time-consuming at the help desk. Chatbots simplify this process by intelligently classifying tickets into agent groups according to the type of problem. They take into account different ticket classification criteria and also evolve based on prior learning.
If the chatbot cannot resolve the ticket, it is assigned to the appropriate agent, giving it full context on what has happened so far.
Password reset is the most common request to the helpdesk, and agents spend a lot of time dealing with this transactional query. After introducing AI, password recovery is handled by chatbots that connect to the backend and set a temporary password for the user. This is all done seamlessly, without any manual intervention.
This is the type of service request that users usually ask for. Chatbots understand the type of request, the job title of the requester, the department and send approval to the appropriate management to grant access to the application. Similarly, chatbots automate granting access to users.
Chatbots help ends not only users but also agents in resolving their requests. For example, an agent requests a report on the volume of support tickets, and the chatbot prepares this report and immediately forwards it to the agent. So chatbots are not just for customers, but they also help agents do their jobs more efficiently. Bots proactively inform agents of any significant incident. For example, bots can relay messages internally within the organization.
Approvals for service requests and changes are standard within the IT service desk. The resolution of these tickets is often delayed, pending the correct approval.
In this case, the chatbot automates the workflow and ensures immediate approval by alerting all relevant approvers. Similarly, the onboarding/offboarding of employees is automated by allocating all necessary resources via the chatbot.
The key to effective self-service is knowledge management. It contributes significantly to ticket transfer and is an essential resource for self-service. Chatbots are very useful in recommending the correct articles and getting real-time feedback.
Chatbots automatically recommend relevant articles to users. Based on aggregated ticket data, they identify knowledge gaps and determine missing knowledge articles. New knowledge articles are created based on the provided ticket solutions.
- Intelligent search
- Intelligent solution suggestions
- Identification of gaps
- Creation of solution articles
Coverage – the number of questions that the chatbot can answer correctly.
Accuracy – whether the suggestions are helpful or not
Bias – the number of questions the chatbot can answer without human intervention.
The implementation of chatbots should be top-down driven, and it is the responsibility of management to communicate value and pilot with agents. It is important to stress that robots are not a replacement for human agents but a complement to them to do a better job.
24/7 availability: improves the overall response time to user queries and is available 24 hours a day, leading to an overall improvement in resolution time and productivity.
Faster ticket resolution: As the chatbot is powered by AI and ML technology, the overall resolution rate increases, increasing customer satisfaction. Faster ticket resolution also means faster business recovery.
Proactive engagement: Chatbots are intelligent enough to predict events and report tickets. Proactive engagement saves costs by eliminating delays and significant service disruptions. Chatbots will proactively inform agents of potential SLA violations.
Cost optimization: Chatbots divert regular Tier 1 tickets, ultimately reducing the overall costs incurred. Helpdesk staff are freed up from regular invoicing tasks and can focus on solving complex problems.
If you haven’t started thinking about chatbots yet, now would be an excellent time to initiate change in your organization rather than falling behind the curve.
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