Artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbots have been rising in popularity over the last few years, and with organizations under increasing pressure to “do more with less” while improving the employee or customer experience, chatbots and the technology behind them represent a powerful tool for next-generation IT service management (ITSM).
Chatbots have the potential for organizations to save on service and support costs, to speed up response times, and to free up service desk analysts for more challenging work. It’s an evolution in support that’s already happening, and even in 2016 Gartner stated that they expect that the average person will have more conversations with bots than with their spouse by 2020!
Chatbots, at their core, is software that performs tasks. Powered by AI and machine learning technology, in particular, they’re designed to communicate with humans.
To help with communication context and understanding, natural language processing (NLP) is a branch of AI that allows the chatbot to deal with human interactions in a way that enables it to accurately understand messages and then respond appropriately.
For example, let’s say you ask a chatbot “What’s the time?” it’s the NLP that provides context and meaning such that the chatbot can offer up with the best response – perhaps “14:45” (based on the resources it has access to) rather than “The indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole,” i.e. definition of what time is.
Chatbots also learn from their interactions, which enables them to widen their knowledge base and become even more useful to the customer (and service provider). There will, of course, be instances where a customer asks a question that the chatbot doesn’t know the answer to. Here, the chatbot will pass the ongoing communication to a human operator.
Chatbots definitely haven’t managed to achieve mass adoption yet though, even in the business-to-consumer (B2C) world where a State of Chatbots Report 2018 found that only “15% of consumers have used chatbots to communicate with businesses in the past 12
While this is still low compared to traditional access and communication channels, one of the reasons chatbots have been starting to rise in popularity is that traditional support channels bring with them customer frustrations such as:
But, before we delve into the benefits and how chatbots fit into ITSM, lets first look at what a chatbot actually is.
Chatbots improve the overall efficiency of ITSM operations and the productivity of customers by handling routine employee issues faster. In particular by taking on responsibility for high-volume, low-value repetitive tasks where support teams are wasting valuable time on likely resource-heavy tasks that a chatbot could take care of with ease.
In addition to the available time and cost savings, another important benefit to consider is how fulfilled IT support employees are by their work. Where it can be very demoralizing for a support employee to spend much of their day performing boring, basic work – which can lead to poor employee retention in the long run.It can be very demoralizing for an #ITsupport employee to spend much of their day performing boring, basic work. #Chatbots can help to reduce the volume of mundane, low-level tasks that your team need to perform. Click To Tweet
Here are four key ways that chatbots will benefit your IT service desk and its customers:
Similar bot technology can also be used to augment IT service desk analyst capabilities. This “agent assistance” can fulfill a variety of repetitive tasks such as automatically categorizing incidents and service requests and assigning them to the most appropriate analyst or resolution group based on priority. Or assisting agents with context-based knowledge. Or performing common tasks such as retrieving information diverse enterprise systems, generating reports, notifying customers, etc.If you choose to implement a #chatbot, it needs to produce a positive ROI. And for it to do this, your business needs have to be clear, and with measurable goals. Click To Tweet
If you’ve already implemented, or are in the process of implementing, a chatbot for ITSM what advice would you give to others? Please let me know in the comments.