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Why Your Service Desk Agents Want AI

By Pat Calhoun, Chief Executive Officer
 | 
October 4, 2022
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I met with the CIO of a large healthcare provider today who is an Espressive customer and talked about the exciting opportunity that an AI-based virtual agent will present to their service desk employees. She shared with me that, following some new tech rollouts, their service desk has never been busier due to increased repetitive questions.

Then we started talking about our shared experiences working on the service desk, which is where I launched my career. We talked about how difficult it is for service desk agents to deal with the repetitive issues coming in daily, which is why Gartner found that the average attrition rate on the service desk is 41%. The service desk is a great place to get a foot in the door in an organization, or start a career, but few people want to do this long term.

The service desk turnover issue is clearly due to the fact that most organizations have not provided their service desk agents with an opportunity to uplevel their skills – other than understanding how to do a password reset on the new SSO being rolled out. Eventually, this gets old, until... enter AI.

Some people insist their past approaches at self-help failed because employees want to speak to a human. With some exceptions, that is in fact not true. The reason why employees continue to call the service desk is that they are not technical enough to understand their problems, which was required for past self-help tools to be successful. What employees can, and generally do, is express their symptoms (e.g., “My laptop is broken”). This of course could mean a hundred things, from a broken screen to being unable to login – so they needed a service desk agent to diagnose the issue and get to the root cause.

One goal we had when we founded Espressive was to create a virtual agent platform that could do what today’s agents do when they get a call – get past the initial “something is broken” and engage the employee to understand the true nature of the issue. This is done by turning a support runbook into a conversation, which then leads to a resolution.

Having a virtual agent platform is critical to high deflection rates as every organization has their own proprietary tools, support runbooks, and nuances. A virtual agent must be able to adapt to these environments, understanding organizational specific differences.

This is where the opportunity for service desk agents to uplevel their skills exists, especially since they are the ones engaging with employees every day and understand the tools, runbooks, etc. Instead of focusing on answering repetitive questions, service desk agents uplevel their skills to become “automators” of the virtual agent. We have found that when service desk agents own the virtual agent, they are also more likely to promote it, leading to increased awareness and adoption.

This, in turn, also provides service desk agents with new skills, automating the mundane while elevating the humane. This, in our experience, has significantly reduced service desk attrition – making it a win/win for everyone involved.Another customer, Dexcom, is a great case study for turning your service desk agents into automators, reducing turnover, and delivering a great employee experience. Check out this webinar to learn more.

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