The IT help desk is becoming an increasingly critical component for the hybrid workforce. However, despite its newfound prominence, many help desks struggle to effectively resolve its employees’ issues. In fact, according to a recent Computer Weekly article, employee confidence in their help desk’s ability to address their needs has dropped to 25 percent. Factor in that 33 percent of help desk staff report being dissatisfied, and it isn’t a pretty picture. How can organizations turn this downward trend around and improve IT operations for their employees? Conversational AI may be the answer.
In a recent webinar, Suhail Nair, Executive Director of Partner Relationships for Uniphore, discussed this topic with Lawrence Sathiaraj, Global Delivery Head for Tech Mahindra, a leading provider of digital transformation, consulting and business re-engineering solutions that has partnered with Uniphore. The two technology experts discussed the pandemic-fueled shift toward remote work—and how that shift has fundamentally reshaped IT help desk operations and expectations.
More remote employees need more remote support.
In the wake of the global pandemic, many—if not most—companies pivoted to a hybrid or fully remote workforce to combat the spread of the virus. According to a recent prediction by Forrester, as much as 70 percent of US and European companies will likely make that change permanent.
“Remote work is here to stay,” states Sathiaraj. “Eighty-seven to ninety percent of CIOs are prioritizing the tech investments for sustained remote work.”
With more employees working remotely, IT help desk volumes have soared. However, staffing and resources haven’t been able to keep pace. As a result, organizations are increasingly look to automation technology to manage higher inbound traffic and improve operational efficiencies.
“Our partners are telling us is that volumes have gone up post-pandemic because of the change of work environment,” Nair explains. “So, the solutions we are taking to them [are designed] to drive efficiency with the existing set of folks they have on the help desk. How are they able to do more? How are they able to be consistent?”
Organizations need to overcome three key challenges.
According to Sathiaraj, businesses need to take a strategic approach when deploying automation solutions for their IT help desk. He identified three key challenges that organizations must first address before rolling out any implementation. Each underscores the importance of user experience in a program’s success:
- How do you define and measure the end-to-end process that impacts the user experience?
- How do you predict call volume and manage capacity on a continuous basis?
- How do you drive user adoption?
Conversational AI can greatly improve the help desk user experience.
Conversational AI and automation offer actionable solutions for each challenge. By automating the bulk of manual backend work, organizations can simplify and streamline the end-to-end user journey. The addition of AI-powered analytics can improve call volume prediction accuracy and management. Taken altogether, these solutions drive user adoption by creating what Sathiaraj describes as, “a cockpit-type environment for a help desk agent, where he has real-time information and can actually learn on the job and can improvise to meet the customer requirement.”
And Sathiaraj would know. His organization, Tech Mahindra, has utilized Uniphore’s conversational AI and automation solutions in several implementations. Discussing the largest such implementation—built for a leading chemical manufacturer with more than 400 agents globally—he described the challenge and how automation helped Tech Mahindra realize its client’s goals:
Sathiaraj’s parting comments
While conversational AI and automation can greatly optimize even highly complex help desk operations—like the global chemical manufacturer mentioned above—Sathiaraj cautions organizations undergoing rapid digital transformations not to bite off more than they can chew. He stresses the need for businesses to set realistic, not overly aggressive, goals and to always plan with the “human variable”—the end user—in mind.
“[Don’t] try to force your customers into the digital channels,” he states. “There is a rush to get 35-40% of the volume diverted towards self-service; but the human variable has to evolve first. You will always have customers who need answers to complex questions. The idea should be to provide the right experience, not trying to say, ‘I will have 30% on my chatbot, on my mobile and so forth’.”
Asked about the future of conversational automation in the IT help desk—and in the world at large—Sathiaraj could hardly conceal his excitement:
“The journey has just begun. I think conversational AI has a large, large role to play in the way things will transform in the future. My advice would be: make the beginning now. The old ways of working will not take us to where we want to be.”
Want to hear the full interview? You can access the webinar here.