The much-prophesized Robot revolution is finally upon us. From self-driving cars and highly specialized industrial machines to algorithm-enabled enterprise platforms and smart consumer devices, autonomous tools have crept into almost every facet of our daily lives. That includes your friendly neighborhood help desk agent.
For years, naysayers have been saying that Robots will make traditional employment redundant, but the hardware and software that’s used in modern organizations has actually increased the demand for skilled talent. This is not a new phenomenon. When the assembly line began to put factory workers out of their jobs it didn’t make humans obsolete, instead it shifted workforces towards more strategic tasks. All of sudden new vacancies in engineering, scheduling, planning and supervision began to open up across these companies. The need for frontline staff didn’t go away altogether either, as machines became increasingly intelligent, companies asked for more skilled workers to direct or repair them.
The Same Goes for Help Desks
Today, we’re seeing a similar trend play out in the service sector where a variety of repetitive manual functions can be performed more quickly and efficiently with the help of AI. Whether you’re looking at bookkeeping, logistics, or healthcare you’ll find cloud software services at work, optimizing and streamlining processes. According to the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSC) this type of process automation (RPA) can reduce operational costs by an estimated 65% within just 6 months of implementation.
This exists most notably in customer service and help desks across the world where AI is taking jobs…but also offering new ones. With the role of a human being behind the wheel of a help desk conversation, the role of humans become ever more important than before. Human agents now need to become super human help desk agents, by combining their inter-personalities with the speediness of an artificially intelligent mind. A veritable Human-Robot hybrid in customer service that can keep the conversation human, at super-human speeds.
Those who are watching these disruptive trends take effect realize that consumers now expect more than just basic functionality; they want services that actually add value to their lives. Industry-leading companies believe that the key to unlocking these expectations lies in customer services. As we move towards increasing automation, a consistent frontline human presence can truly differentiate your business. Research from Forrester shows that even a single percentage increase in customer service quality can increase revenues anywhere from $100 to $300 million.
Scaling Up a Help Desk Isn’t Easy
Of course, scaling your customer service to match these growing customer expectations is no easy task especially if you already struggling to keep up with your expanding audience. When you’re inundated by feedback, inquiries and complaints through multiple digital and analogue channels it is almost impossible to provide personalized support for each individual. If you don’t have the manpower at hand, then you may find yourself turning to scripted email responses or ticketing systems that prioritize only the most escalated respondents.
The obvious answer to these challenges would be to hire more customer service employees. But when capital is limited, a recruitment drive might not be the most effective use of resources. At the same time, there’s no guarantee that your extended workforce will be able to deliver exceptional customer service. Unless you have a culture and infrastructure in place to support your frontline staff, a mass hiring could turn your customer service into just another isolated function. We often see these issues pop up with outsourced call centers: The distance between your main operations and support staff creates several barriers to effective service delivery.
Barrier to Help Desk Service Delivery
Even if you take these resources through an extensive training program, it will be difficult to properly integrate these individuals into your company culture. As a result, there may be a disconnect between the level of service offered by your core service team and these outsourced employees.
For the most part, outsourced workforces will be far more committed to maintaining key metrics than on pushing themselves to provide better customer service.
These individuals may not be able to provide native language service. Constant miscommunications will inevitably hurt your business’s reputation over time.
While an in-house customer service team would be a vital source for talent and innovation within your organization, an outsourced team will not offer the same opportunities for workforce development. In other words, your investments will not lead to greater efficiency, at best you will improve your ability to deliver on certain KPIs such as response time and calls handled.
Think about how much your organization spends on sales and marketing in an effort to attract new customers. Now ask yourself, what is the point of investing in your website? SEO, PPC, social media, and traditional advertising if you’re going to leave the most important part of the interaction to employees that are completely disconnected from your main business? While outsourcing may be the answer to scaling other areas of your organization, it’s usually not your best option when it comes to customer service. So what are your alternatives?
Optimize Your Resources
The key to exceptional customer service is making your current resources as effective as possible. In this case, we’re talking about the employees at your main help desk, individuals who have been at your organization for years that understand how your company works. They know what your customer want and how to bring these two factors together. If you can make scale up the insights and knowledge that these team members hold then you have a great chance of actually pushing your customer-first culture. When it comes to maximizing resources automation is the obvious choice.
What Automation Brings to Your Help Desk
AI brings meaning to data. In the past, this meaning was strictly prescriptive in nature. In other words, machines could analyze certain variables and tell you where your business was going wrong and what it was doing right. Predictive analytics takes this concept one step further. A smart help desk can pool together your service tickets, and begin to cluster together tickets that come from a specific source, or those that express a certain intent. Through this process, AI will begin to identify significant events before they happen. For example, if you are a telecommunications company and several customers from one region report Internet service disruptions you can recognize that a problem is developing. These insights can help to inspire proactive service and delivery improvements across your organization.
It allows you to consolidate the unstructured data that exists in multiple siloes across your organization and use it to derive targeted insights about each individual customer. With the right information at hand, your customer service staff can provide personalized service right from the first second of an interaction. By consolidating all your customer service issues in one place, these service desks can also prevent inefficient duplication of tickets. For example, you might receive similar complaints through your social media and website, but because there is no integration between these channels you will not be aware that the issues are related to one another. Consolidation can free these insights from their organizational siloes.
Smart help desks connect all your customer service employees on a single unified platform. Whether you’re handling calls, responding to customers via IM and social media or dealing with advanced technical support issues if you’re all using the same system and workflows then you can develop a far broader approach to customer service. Rather than filtering individuals through a complex ticketing system you can simply hand your customer off to the relevant specialist as required.
A unified platform will also help you keep track of how and where customers interact with your business, this will in turn help you direct your resources towards the most effective channels. In this way, you get to optimize your workforce and ensure that customers get the best level of service possible.
An automated service desk can help to keep your business accessible even when your human resources are running low. Conversational platforms on websites and chat messengers can provide customers with a quick and responsive touchpoint for initial queries and complaints. While AI may not be able to offer the same level of service as your core team, they will be able to resolve a number of basic issues with ease. When more personalized assistance is required available service staff can jump into the interaction and provide further assistance. Because all of these actions are monitored and managed through the same system the handoff between AI and humans is always seamless.
Increase Your Reach
With a smart help desk, your employees will be able to monitor multiple digital channels from one interface. This breaks down any artificial barriers that might exist between your call center team and email support staff. Each individual now has the tools to become a truly multi-functional representative. Automated platforms will also allow easy switching between different channels so you can field multiple interactions through IM, social media and website chat at the same time. Again, if efficiency is the goal then automation seems to be the key.
Overall the role of AI in customer support is more of a hybridized role, humans cannot leave the help desk up to AI as customers still yearn for a human-to-human interaction. However, AI still has it's place directing traffic to humans, answering easy-enough FAQs, and more. Sign up for Rocketbots and discover how easy it is to implement an AI-powered help desk super agent into your customer service asenal.