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ITSM Processes

How AI makes service desk customers more self-sufficient

By Arvind Ganga on May, 9 2019

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Arvind Ganga

AI lead

How self-sufficient are your service desk customers? Shift Left is a method for making your customers more self-reliant by giving them the tools for finding the answers to their questions. But what if your customer doesn’t enter the correct search term and is thus unable to find the right answer? Or doesn’t know exactly what they’re looking for? Artificial Intelligence solves precisely this problem. In this blog post I explain 3 ways in which AI can help make your customers more self-sufficient.

Wouldn't it be great if your customers could answer their own questions? If they were no longer dependent on service desk opening times and capacity, and could solve their own problems at a time of their choosing? Hannah Price describes the so-called ‘Shift Left’ principle in detail in this blog post.

Shift Left doesn’t only enhance customer experience; it also benefits the service desk by actively reducing the number of calls and eliminating repetitive tasks. This leaves more time for more challenging problem-solving. The end result? Happier service desk employees and happier customers: a win-win situation.

Making Shift Left a success isn’t easy. But thankfully help is at hand. You can improve your Shift Left operation demonstrably using Artificial Intelligence. Below are 3 ways in which AI can help your service desk customers become even more self-sufficient.

1. AI helps customers find information more easily

A key component of Shift Left is Knowledge Centered Support: service desk employees create knowledge items and customers subsequently retrieve the information that they need from the knowledge base. Well, at least that’s the theory. In practice, the service desk often makes information available, yet the customer is unable to find it. Either because the customer doesn’t know exactly what information they’re looking for, or because they’re not using the same search term as the IT specialist who has written the knowledge item.

Thanks to the Natural Language Processing and Understanding (NLPU) component of Artificial Intelligence, computers are able to understand human language. They can discern the topic and context of a text. For the service desk, this means that the computer has improved understanding of two things: the customer’s enquiry, and the knowledge item subject matter. The benefit? AI enables the machine to make a much better match between the customer's request and the machine-generated solution, even if the customer's request is unclear. AI also recognizes and reports which questions cannot yet be answered with the help of a knowledge item. That way you know what information you need to add.

If your company is multilingual then it’s essential that knowledge items are available in multiple languages. Unfortunately, most service desks don’t have a dedicated translator to hand. Artificial Intelligence provides a solution: NLPU can translate knowledge items automatically, ensuring that new information is instantly available to customers everywhere.

2. Chatbots and virtual assistants provide 24/7 service with a smile

Increasingly, a customer's first contact with the service desk is not with a person, but a chatbot. Chatbots are constantly available. Even in the middle of the night and at weekends. And chatbots don’t mind answering the same questions over and over again. This directly benefits your customers and your service desk employees.

Chatbots help customers find the information they’re looking for through conversation. For people, this is a far more natural way of retrieving information than a search query. The customer starts off with a general question, instead of immediately specifying the right keywords. The chatbot determines precisely what the customer enquiry concerns by asking additional questions. This conversation prevents customers from becoming frustrated during the search process.

If the chatbot can’t find the right information, it can independently create an incident. This reduces the workload for both customers and service desk employees.
Some chatbots can even solve problems autonomously, by resetting passwords for instance. This ‘chatbot plus’ is a virtual assistant that’s available 24/7 to relieve busy service desk employees of small, simple, repetitive tasks.

3. Machine Learning proactively predicts customer requests

In some cases, Machine Learning (another AI component) completely eliminates the need for customers to search for information. How does this work? ML enables you to predict why customers will visit your portal. Amongst other things, it makes this prediction based on their job role, department and location, and the activity of other portal users.

By virtue of this predictive technology, the portal is able to proactively present the information that customers are likely searching for. Such as a knowledge item or new computer request form. This is comparable to the way in which Netflix provides suggestions for series that you are currently unaware of, but will probably enjoy.

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