Meet Your Service Desk's New Star: Barista!

By Carlos Yupanqui
May 9, 2023

We recently held a Barista Café User Group at Espressive headquarters, where customers shared their strategies for leveraging our product to do more with less. One of the presenters, Todd Hardin (IT Manager at Guardant Health) inspired me to write this blog.

It’s been an extraordinarily challenging couple of years for the service desk agent. From the hurdles of the early pandemic days to finding new ways to increase support for remote and hybrid workforces, all while attempting to do more with less.

For many employees, life has returned to normalcy as we enter the endemic phase. Organizations are holding company parties again, traveling for team-building activities, and attending conferences in person. However, behind the scenes, IT is facing new struggles.

The Service Desk is Overloaded

In the past year, service desks have spent most of their time firefighting due to the heavy workload. This impacts customer satisfaction ratings and takes a toll on service desk agents’ mental health.

Companies have also increased the number of SaaS apps that are managed and supported, an increase of 18% over last year. Service desks manage an average of 130 apps, meaning IT leaders are compelled to find ways to automate ticket resolution.

However, it doesn’t end there. Today’s service desk also plays a vital role in the employee experience. In the BetterCloud 2023 State of SaaSOps report, 80% of IT professionals recognize that in the next 12 months, “IT will be increasingly responsible for employee experience, helping provide better tools, information, and support for all employees and unlocking new ways to work.”

When it comes to onboarding, HR is no longer the singular starting point for new employees and IT is responsible for extensively more than setting up email and folder permissions. In the same BetterCloud survey, respondents highlighted the workload for their teams: 51% shared that it requires more than a day to get employees access to all necessary tools to do their work, and another 35% remarked that it takes them more than a week! This equals a loss of productivity and a prolonged employee onboarding experience.

The Service Desk Budget is Being Cannibalized by Attrition

Tier 1 service desk turnover is at an all-time high, so it is no surprise that most of the budget is allocated to hiring and training. Churn equates to a constant loss of tribal knowledge.

Employee turnover rates are set to hit 41% on average this year. Such attrition rates can have a more significant impact than the apparent loss of talent. There is a sizable financial impact on a company with such high attrition rates (e.g., an increase in overtime expenditures until positions are filled). Above all this, there is a considerable effect on employee morale, which is not limited to the IT department. With all these combined factors, business leaders require solutions while reducing expenditures.

Galvanize the Service Desk by “Hiring” a Virtual Support Agent

Given this current state of affairs for IT, loud voices are coming from service desk agents asking for help to serve their organizations and improve the employee experience. The same 80% that realize they will be responsible in great part for the employee experience are in dire need of automating onboarding, off boarding, and self-service resources for routine “how-to” inquiries.

The desire for improved operational excellence is not just an IT goal but also what leaders are looking at in 2023. According to Gartner, 63% of service and support leaders say that improving their operations is one of their most important goals for this year.

The numbers support the drive of companies and leaders in these efforts. 46% of respondents in the BetterCloud survey confirm that they already have an automated onboarding process in place, and another 29% are creating initial automation. 30% of these respondents also confirm that they use a virtual support agent to help with common “how-to” inquiries requiring a ticket. This further illustrates how companies are investing in automation to solve some of their most pressing needs while freeing up IT resources.

Leveraging a virtual support agent empowers existing employees and reduces the time for new employees to feel more integrated into an organization’s culture. Imagine the positive outcomes when a workforce can harness the power of a VSA with 24-hour secure access, employee empowerment through self-sufficiency, automation of onboarding processes, and knowledge retention immune to employee turnover. While we are not suggesting that you hire an actual barista to work on your service desk, with Espressive Barista, human agents will have a teammate that never calls out sick, doesn’t mind mundane and repetitive tasks, efficiently retains and grows tribal knowledge, and can engage employees in over 100 languages.

Best of all, service desk agents will have a unique opportunity to uplevel their automation skills. Check out this blog by our Chief Espressionist, Pat Calhoun, to learn more.

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