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How Chatbots Increase
Your IT Helpdesk Efficiency

How Chatbots Can Improve Your IT Support

How can quality and efficiency be improved, despite the increasing cost pressure on the IT service desk? In what way should IT support be organized to meet the challenges of the future? Our expert Thino Ullmann explains how chat bots are revolutionizing IT support.

Process innovation is necessary in order to optimize current workflows and to enable faster production in better quality and with more attractive margins. Digital technologies are used above all in the areas of rationalization and efficiency enhancement in order to ensure an organization’s competitiveness.

But the risk exists nevertheless that while current processes continue to be improved, they are never called into question at a more fundamental level. I will use this article to outline the opportunities for using chat bots in the organization’s IT service desk.

IT-Support in an age of Digital Transformation – A clumsy affair?

For companies especially, the progressive “digital transformation” means that business processes are now highly IT-supported, ideally to 100%. Smooth IT operation and support have therefore become business-critical, also in areas that so far have been relatively analog. The IT service desk and service management have attained a more significant status and are evolving as strategic and increasingly complex contributors to an organization’s success.

Often, though, the IT service desk resources become tied up responding to standard inquiries such as:

  • Password resets & accounts
  • Hardware (printers), mobile devices
  • Standard inquiries about the most frequently used applications
  • Ticket status/updates (1st to 3rd level)

Associated with this are challenges for the employees, including:

  • Inquiries placed by email or via the ticketing system do work, but are often associated with waiting times. And who enjoys waiting? It could even be as much as 72 hours, especially at the weekend.
  • Telephone inquiries are especially popular, but take up a lot of time and resources, depending on the size of the organization.
  • Company wikis tend to be far too big and written in technical jargon, assuming the necessary entries are even retrievable.
  • Google support and the associated Internet research can provide a solution to the problem at hand, but frequently take a lot of time. And it is actually the job of the IT service desk to provide support.

So how is it possible to improve quality and efficiency, while also reducing the costs of running an IT service desk?

New colleagues for the IT Service Desk

These days we encounter chat bots quite often in our personal lives, for instance when shopping on online platforms. Essentially, the process of placing a support request via a help desk is no different to a telephone call or a chat. The contact is not directly with a support agent, but with the automated dialog system, the bot.

Organizations will frequently place a variety of solutions upstream of ITIL processes and the associated service desk level, which are not absolutely necessary in order to implement a chat box service desk. For instance, an interactive voice response (IVR) system might channel support requests to the employees, a self-service portal can be made available, or the employees open a standard support ticket.

Chatbots are simple solutions that fit easily into this framework: The dialog-based input interface that uses natural language patterns delivers automated solutions in real time. It can be integrated in the frontend, regardless of the device class (PC, laptop, tablet etc.), and made available as a chat channel on the support website, in Slack, Microsoft Teams and Skype or other applications that are already part of everyday business life.

These support chats operate on the basis of the set of troubleshooting issues that are defined in advance. The bots can also be “trained” to cope with other problems if they are deployed in other areas as well. The data basis evolves continuously using the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), information from the ticketing system or from other sources.

The integration of backend systems is also possible in this context and thus enables the inclusion of other solutions from wiki pages, digital manuals or information that is specific to the industry or the organization.

This data provides the chat bot with the intelligence it needs in the specific troubleshooting areas and therefore eases the burden on the IT service desk.

Available 24/7, these service desk chatbots can provide employees with immediate responses to hundreds – if not thousands – of questions and can skip from one issue to the next in an instant. Human support agents are simply unable to keep up.

Let me use the following simple example to illustrate what interacting with a chat bot might look like:

Chatbot: Welcome to the Support Desk at John Doe Inc., how can I help?
Employee: I want to set up a printer.
Chatbot: At which location do you want to set up a printer? Please select a location:
  • Hamburg
  • Kiel
  • London
  • Brisbane
Employee: Hamburg
Chatbot: Can you see the name of the printer? It should be stated on the yellow tag attached to the printer.
Employee: No.
Chatbot: Please enter the room number where the printer is located.
Employee: Room 158.
Chatbot: Thank you. It is an HP LaserJet XXX printer with the designation DEPRT2198. Here is a step-for-step guide to setting up the printer (LINK). Follow all the steps, and feel free to contact me again if you have any trouble. (…) Is there anything else I can do for you? (…)

Depending on how the chat bot is integrated in the current IT environment, it can also open a ticket, set up the printer automatically and then close the support ticket afterwards.

It is also possible to configure the system so that the incident is forwarded if the chat bot has done all it can.

Chatbot: I have opened a support ticket for you. A service desk agent will contact you shortly.

Many different scenarios are conceivable and possible.

Summary

Chatbots are more efficient than support agents when it comes to resolving simple, recurring issues or inquiries. They can also be used to filter service requests or simplify workflows. In this way, they ensure that the support desk is open for business 24/7, even at weekends or on national holidays, and regardless of how frantic or quiet things might otherwise be.

Taken together, these benefits allow you to cut costs significantly, while providing a higher quality of service at the same time. A first step to implementing this kind of solution might be to analyze your support inquiries or to discuss things directly with your support staff.

Leipzig, 12 / 14 / 2018

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