How to modernize your digital workplace with chatbots, virtual support, and more

We’ve been working with a lot of companies this year on help-related requests, be them from customers or employees. Everyone wants to be fully automated. This might seem like a distant reality, depending on your industry. But it’s certainly trending that way in our experience of advising companies both big and small.

There are always industries that are slow at adopting the latest technology—chatbots, virtual support, and intelligent contact centers, for example.

The good news, however, is that these novel approaches to customer and employee requests can be easily automated. Doing this is more than just about cost-savings, however, which these technologies certainly help achieve. Better automated support leads to better employee engagement and retention, which helps companies win the critical talent war.

In addition, automated support has the potential to free up more skilled support staff to handle a larger share of low volume, high quality interactions. Here’s what you need to know about this important trend.

Recent history

The way we support both customers and employees has come a long way over the past few decades. In the 1990s, large companies staffed multiple “help desks” to assist regional employees and sometimes customers in resolving their issues.

In the early 2000s, many of those help desks were consolidated into one, central service or support desk to resolve issues. Shortly after that the invention of automated password resets began, which set in motion many of the self-service technologies we use today.

In this way, we’re moving to an overall proactive approach when it comes to resolving employee and customer issues. With the help of omnichannel support tools, today’s companies can better manage everyone’s IT experience.

With a complete 360 degree view of problems, companies can move from simply addressing an end user’s issue, to comprehensive proactive care. This improves both the employee and customer experience, while minimizing support costs and freeing support staff to work on higher impact requests.

Asking  better questions

The transition from outdated support to a more modernized, virtual one requires more than just new technology, however. For this to be successful, we must ask better questions and reinvent our success metrics if we wish to pivot to this important and powerful approach to supporting both customers and employees.

For example, is completing a call in under 45 seconds really a valuable metric, especially if that same caller has to call in several more times about the same issue? Far too often, today’s support desk is measuring the wrong scores when it comes to identifying key performance indicators and/or service level agreements with customers. Often times a short-term approach is taken, simply before escalating the issue to someone else, waiting on them, or dealing with that problem for far too long. This isn’t to say SLAs and KPI’s shouldn’t be considered. But they should only be used for overall hygiene purposes, not individual interactions. When that happens, we can put ourselves in a better position to understand baseline user sentiment and what both customers and employees truly value from a support experience. With better metrics, we can then start focusing on the best way to handle content volume.

Better automated support leads to better employee engagement and retention, which helps companies win the critical talent war.

Lower volume, higher quality

As Gartner has shown, the transition from high volume, in-person support calls to low volume (with the help of chatbots, self-help, and virtual integration) has already begun. This automation results in faster support and lower total support cost, yes. But the real upside is in how this approach frees up more skilled workers to answer lower volume, higher quality requests from users.

Consider how companies traditionally valued data centers and mission-critical servers. Obviously, these are top priority assets and treated immediately as any issue comes up. They are always monitored, as is nearly every device that’s connected to them. Today, however, with the help of artificial intelligence, these important assets are more proactively monitored than they were before, to prevent an issue before it happens. This in turn frees specialized IT workers to contribute to more strategic or growth fueled tasks.

The same is true about the service desk. The more we automate how we support customers and employees, the more we can earmark higher level support staff to work on higher dollar initiatives and further improve the future state of the company, including higher employee engagement.

Better returns

It goes without saying, but companies with superior customer and employee support enjoy higher profits, less turnover, and their stock price outpaces the market every time. That is why you should ultimately care about the shift to automated support. Not only is it the right thing to do, it’s the best case scenario for future business. It’s good for both your cost and profits.

As the world migrates from high volume requests to low volume ones with the help of AI and self-help, we can spend fewer dollars on a large team in favor of smarter dollars on a smaller team. We can reduce in-person service requests by upwards of 40% and attract and keep a better share of the best employees. And we can ultimately achieve a tremendous employee and customer experience.

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About Mike McGarvey
Vice President & Digital Workplace CTO, Atos
Mike McGarvey is a Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for Digital Workplace at Atos. Mr. McGarvey has been with Atos for 16 years supporting the innovation and technology strategy as it has evolved and led the industry to an automated and end user experience focused approach.  His current responsibilities include the Atos Digital Workplace strategy, product, engineering, and R&D functions as well as the overall go to market approach. Prior to his CTO role, Mr. McGarvey has been dedicated in serving various Atos customers over the years including MetLife, S&P Global, and Johnson and Johnson where he worked hand and hand with those customers to innovate and develop new ways of delivering excellent service.