Chatbots vs Humans in IT support: What’s best for your End-Users?

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07-Jan-2019 10:21:05 | Pete Canavan | End user support

“By 2020, the average person will have more conversations with bots than with their spouse.” - Gartner.

Gartner’s prediction might seem somewhat dystopian to some (utopian to others). Regardless of how you feel about the rise of chatbots, it doesn’t feel like they are going anywhere. The fear of AI tech taking away jobs has some people feeling very anti-bot. But carefully implemented bots can improve business efficiency and empower users. How? By understanding that they are a workflow and communication enabler, not a replacement for the human touch ― or our dark robotic overlords.

Their popularity with tech-savvy businesses stands testament to their value. They can automate repetitive tasks, reduce End-User waiting time and free up your agents for more complex (and rewarding) tickets.

So when are chatbots useful? And when is the human touch still needed?

What are Chatbots?

You’re bound to have encountered a chatbot by now, though perhaps not within the Service Desk realm. The little boxes that pop up on some websites. Business pages on Facebook that offer you a menu within the message function. Customer services sections on your favourite eCommerce sites. Even in DevOps management. Each application has a slightly different goal for a different audience. But they all aim to reduce workload while cutting down waiting time. Unlike Live Chat, they don’t need a human agent to respond to your user.

Chatbots never sleep or need a day off. This means your high-value users have a first-line response around the clock. You can offer 24/7 IT support for simple requests and common queries, though not all tickets.

Who benefits from Chatbots?

A chatbot helps automate End-User Support so the whole business can benefit… including your analysts. If the majority of tickets to your helpdesk are repetitive, you’ll see an immediate impact on user satisfaction and first-time fix rates

Users: Despite the resistance you might expect, End-Users can be fans of chatbots. Users are usually a fan of whatever works fastest and requires least effort (and waiting time).

Analysts: Reducing the boring, repetitive tasks that take up your analysts’ time can only be a good thing. Instead of ploughing through the same or similar ticket types every day, they can focus on more complex problem-solving. They’ll develop faster, have better job satisfaction and stick with your firm longer.

The Business: With fewer tickets needing human intervention, you can focus on more strategic IT initiatives. This, coupled with an uplift in user productivity, gives your business an advantage over its competitors.

To get an idea of the impact it could have on your business, review how many of your tickets are being resolved by canned responses. Those are exactly the type of queries that a chatbot could handle for you. Anything that isn’t resolved that way can be automatically diverted to a human. Here are some of the ways IT can use chatbot technology to good advantage:

  • App access requests
  • Workflow automation
  • Problem & Incident broadcasts to users
  • Ticket categorisation and assignment
  • Password reset
  • Self-service (save your users digging for info in your KMS)

When NOT to use Chatbots for End-User Support

First, it’s important to make sure your End-Users know they’re talking to a bot. Don’t try to pass off a chirpy chatbot as a real person. This can seriously hurt the trust between IT Support and the user. It’s also important that the bot isn’t the only way your users can contact IT support. Most users are already frustrated when they raise a ticket. They’re in a hurry to get back to work. Make sure all users can still reach you by phone and your usual lines of communication.

Although chatbots can evolve and learn, they can’t yet handle complex issues. Sometimes a simple spelling mistake can throw them off. End-Users rarely have the technical language to describe their problems. Giving a list of clear menu items can help reduce this friction, but ultimately, the bot may have to refer your user on to a human. Chatbots aren’t quite there yet for complex troubleshooting.

Make it clear to your users that while the bot is a good first port of call for most requests but it’s not the best place to report a complex problem or incident.

At Plan-Net, we advocate a high-touch, quality service. If you do decide a chatbot is right for you, make sure it has the capacity to learn and adapt with your specific End-User needs. And when to assign a human to the ticket.

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Pete Canavan
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About the author

Pete Canavan

Pete Canavan is Support Services Director at Plan-Net. An accredited ITIL Service Manager, he has a proven track record in IT with special expertise in the Legal & Financial Services industries.

With two decades in the IT field, Pete has acquired extensive experience in business relationship development, service transformation, project and people management, training and client/supplier relations.

Pete's other passions, besides Plan-Net of course, are his family and football.

Email Pete: p.canavan@plan-net.co.uk

Connect with Pete Canavan on LinkedIn

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