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Gartner predicts that “by 2020, the average person will have more conversations with bots than with their spouse.” Sounds a bit extreme, right?
With the recent advancements in technology, the growth of artificial intelligence, and the increase of intelligent personal assistants maybe it doesn’t sound too far from reality after all.
As a matter of fact, the chatbot market is growing quickly and it’s said to reach 1.25 billion U.S. dollars in 2025. This could be the reason why organizations are looking into ways of using bots to help them become more efficient, and the IT service desk is one of the areas that could benefit from this technology.
When asked to define chatbot, TechTarget states, “a chatbot (sometimes referred to as a chatterbot) is programming that simulates the conversation or "chatter" of a human being through text or voice interactions.”
Bots commonly use instant messaging (IM) platforms, like Facebook Messenger, to communicate with users and can assist them in performing tasks such as scheduling appointments, searching and obtaining information, and even shopping.
Many businesses and organizations are starting to use more sophisticated bots that can be integrated into external platforms, such as Microsoft Teams, websites, or even knowledge bases to facilitate information and automate processes for employees and customers. Bots are also becoming popular in various industries including healthcare, and banking and finance.
Chatbots can work in two different ways. The first way is by having an existing program that allows them to follow certain types of rules. These rules are very specific commands such as responding to simple queries like “what is the weather like today?” or “at what time is my flight departure?”.
The second way is more advanced and uses artificial intelligent technology such as natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) to help it understand and develop more detailed conversations with the users. Natural language processing helps the bot interpret human language as accurately and naturally as possible while machine learning allows them to improve the way they interact with the users.
From answering customer questions to helping users shop for the perfect birthday gift, bots have many uses in the consumer world. They can help you book a flight or even check your credit card statements. The possibilities are (almost) endless and depend on the complexity of the bot and its programming.
Now you might think, “great but... how does this tie into the service desk?”
Some of the reasons why businesses are implementing chatbot technologies is to reduce routine tasks, speed processes, deliver better user experiences, to name a few. All of this ties back to the service desk.
Salesforce’s State of Service Survey states that “64% of [service desk] agents with AI chatbots are able to spend most of their time solving complex problems, versus 50% of agents without AI chatbots.”
At the end of the day, it’s all about how much time the service desk spends resolving support issues and how quickly and efficiently they can support customers and employees by continuing to deliver the best experience possible.
As mentioned in the previous section, bots play a big part in the customer and employee self-service world. By providing a positive experience to these users, they can also help improve the efficiency of the IT service desk and potentially reduce operational costs.
Next, let's talk about 10 uses for chatbots that will make your service desk better.
It is no secret that automation is one of the top priorities for businesses when it comes to the service desk. Chatbots can support your IT staff by answering frequently asked questions, solving common issues, or fulfilling repetitive requests that may take time away from the agents. Password resets, for example, are one of the most common requests to the service desk, and chatbots can assist in resolving these kinds of issues.
As mentioned in the first point, bots can deflect Tier 1 tickets so that the agents can focus on more high-priority issues. Chatbots can analyze the conversations they are having with the users, whether these are internal employees or external customers, and automatically categorize incoming tickets. They can also send it to the right tier or even the right department (or agent if needed) for it to be resolved faster and more accurately.
Unlike humans, a bot can be available anytime when the users need it. But isn’t this only beneficial to the users and not the service desk agents directly? By providing round the clock availability and support, users can get their issues solved faster, boosting employee and customer satisfaction and freeing up time for the service desk agents to focus on issues that might require direct human interaction.
Although automating processes is one of the most common uses for chatbots in the service desk, they can also guide the service desk agents through more complicated processes that still need human interaction. Bots can also alert the service desk and IT staff when there is a major issue within the organization. For example, if finance has an issue with their software then an internal bot could alert the IT staff and even categorize the incident and route it to the right agent.
Let’s say that a service desk agent is trying to figure out if a specific issue was solved in the previous months, what the success rate of this issue was, and what the best way to solve it is. A chatbot can assist the agent by looking up this information in the data base and preparing and delivering this report. Having access to instant reporting can help the agents be more efficient when solving issues.
Bots that are built specific to HR can facilitate onboarding by streamlining processes and answering questions from new employees. If employees need to request equipment or access to a certain program, which tends to fall on the IT department, then they could do so by using a bot, helping free up time for the service desk to focus on more critical issues. Bots can also guide new agents through training processes, for example, to get them up to speed and help them transition into their new role in the organization.
Great self-service depends on knowledge management, and chatbots are a perfect channel that can assist in providing information to users anywhere and at any time they need it. But chatbots are not just another way to deliver information, they can suggest relevant information on the spot thanks to AI technologies, identify knowledge gaps in your knowledge base, and even get feedback from the users to make knowledge improvements.
Integrating AI-based chatbots into existing ITSM platforms would allow organizations to better automate processes and reroute service desk requests. With the right program, bots can search for information within the ITSM tool in order to deliver the best answer to users, whether these users are IT service desk agents or employees all over the enterprise.
Yes, a chatbot is another way to offer support to the users, but their capabilities don’t stop there. As previously mentioned, bots can be integrated within ITSM tools and solutions, this also includes self-service portals, messaging platforms such as Skype, enterprise applications, and anywhere employees or customer are. Bots can also identify the most appropriate channel for the users to solve their issues without having to go through the service desk!
Last but not least, bots can benefit everyone within the organization. First, they assist customers by answering their questions as quick as possible and routing them to the right contact if needed. They also support employees with their issues no matter where the employees are—whether it is through a portal or website application. Finally, they help the service desk agents be more efficient by automating simple queries and guiding them through complicated procedures.
It is important that your chatbot works as a compliment to your enterprise tools and platforms so that it can improve support and provide customers and employees with a consistent and interactive user experience.
Learn more about how you can integrate this advanced AI technology like chatbots and knowledge management to elevate the user experience in your organization: see a live demo.
Erika Troconis-Rodell is the Sr. Digital Marketing Manager at EasyVista. She leads the content and blog strategy for the company, and manages global digital marketing initiatives. She loves all things technology and enjoys reading about ITSM, IoT, and SaaS. Fun fact, she also speaks Spanish, French, and Mandarin.