IT service desk workers know a thing or two about empathy. A large part of the job is to engage with end users when they can’t solve a problem on their own.
End users requesting assistance can go through many different channels before an issue is resolved, but most start in a digital self-service channel and migrate to a human touchpoint to speak with a service desk employee.
Knowledge loss throughout the process only makes it harder for both parties. More than 3 in 5 customer service channel transitions require a lot of effort for end users, according to a Gartner survey of nearly 1,500 B2B and B2C customers published Tuesday.
If an agent isn’t caught up on the end user’s case when they arrive in the queue, the person having an issue repeats everything from the self-service channel resulting in a poor customer experience.
“Those transition points are where everything lives or dies,” Greg Sanker, former CIO, author and principle advisory director at Info-Tech Research Group, said.
A new generation of AI-enabled self-service tools will have to pass a customer satisfaction test.
“I believe, frankly, that the transition is going to be the make or break in the implementation of the technology,” Sanker said.
While it's common for businesses to have some level of AI powering automated processes or self-service channels already, organizations are expecting to implement more of the technology amid a vendorwide generative AI push.
More than 4 in 5 IT leaders plan to implement AI in IT operations and just slightly less said they planned to use AI to boost customer experience, according to a June Equinix survey of more than 2,900 IT decision-makers around the world.
How to make transitions with ease
Business implementations of self-service channels have had inadvertent impacts on end-user experience, especially when users think of tools, like chatbots, as a roadblock to reaching a human touchpoint, according to Mark Tauschek, VP distinguished analyst and research fellow at Info-Tech Research Group.
“You know that voice recognition that everybody hates and goes, ‘It doesn’t work,’ from a few years back? It’s improved by orders of magnitude in a very short period of time,” Tauschek said.
In an internal pilot program testing service-desk chatbots, users opted to speak with a human representative at the first opportunity, Tauschek said.
It’s a pain point that vendors have tried to mitigate as the technology has evolved. At Freshworks, maker of generative AI tool Freddy Self Service, seamless transitions have become a priority as customers emphasize the impact of poor customer experience.
“What we’re working on is, not only do we want to provide the agent the context of all the conversations, but we also want to provide the agent with the next-best action,” Prakash Ramamurthy, chief product officer at Freshworks and former Oracle SVP of product development, told CIO Dive.
The perfect transition, Sanker said, is characterized by an agent’s ability to understand why the case has been escalated, basic information about the end user such as name and department and the ability to push the conversation forward.
“It’s like the television sports announcers,” Sanker said. “It’s that moment of, ‘That’s right, Sarah, that was a really good play, and I’ll take it from here.’”