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Modern support automation tools demonstrably improve customer service. They give people tools to fix their own problems, leading to faster resolutions. They keep customers up-to-date on the status of their requests and let support teams pay more personal attention to complex problems.
Support automation also allows help desk teams to do more with less. This is crucial because although today’s workplaces are using more and more technology, help desk budgets aren’t necessarily increasing to meet demand.
So how do you implement the types of automation that boost productivity while improving service quality? Consider the following nine service desk automation ideas.
Imagine that an employee from the HR department wants to download SnagIt onto her work computer. You have a process for requesting the software that automatically secures the necessary approvals and initiates the install; the employee just needs to request the software from your online service catalog.
Instead, she contacts the help desk and interrupts a service desk team member who asks her to use the service catalog. This process isn’t a good use of either employee’s time.
While a single request doesn’t seem like it would have a huge impact on productivity, it interrupt IT’s focus on other work. And help desks tend to get these “little”, interruptive requests frequently.
Tools like Spoke give employees a place to ask questions and get answers without interrupting help desk teams. Spoke uses artificial intelligence to build and manage knowledge, providing answers and solving problems for company employees over chat, email, and SMS without involving the service desk.
There are a lot of ways to measure service desk performance: cost-per-ticket, rate of resolution, average time-to-resolution, etc. But the bottom line is that none of these metrics matter if the quality of the services you provide is poor. High resolution rates and low resolution times aren’t metrics to brag about if teams achieved them by closing tickets with unresolved issues.
One possible solution is to create and send help desk surveys regularly. But doing so is often a manual process that’s easy to forget and easy to put off due to more urgent priorities.
The best way to ensure you’re constantly collecting customer feedback is to automate the process. If you always send an email when a ticket closes—either manually or through your ticketing system—use a tool like Customer Thermometer or Hively to include customer surveys in every email you send.
With these tools, no one needs to remember to send quarterly customer surveys. You collect feedback automatically and access it whenever you want to measure performance and quality.
Support desk managers and supervisors could listen in on or record employee service calls to provide feedback and improvement suggestions, but that’s a time-consuming task that leaders rarely find time for.
Luckily, this is another area that benefits from automation. Tools like Cogito use behavioral science data to provide real-time advice and guidance to support employees while they’re taking calls. It lets support team members know when they’re speaking too quickly or not listening enough, and it even alerts supervisors of calls that are going very poorly so they can intervene.
How much time does your team spend fielding software requests and requesting approvals? Even if it’s only a small amount of time, it’s time you could be spending on more important tasks. Standard requests like these are ripe for automation because they have defined workflows that can be completed without any human intervention.
Tools like ServiceNow and Avatier Service Catalog allow help desk teams to create service catalogs that users interact with in the same way they would an ecommerce site. On the frontend, users request things like software, devices, and access. These requests interact with backend workflows that secure permissions and initiate processes automatically.
This gives end users access to the things they need more quickly and removes the need for the support team involvement outside of creating, updating, and maintaining backend workflows.
How often do your support employees get assigned to tickets that should have been assigned to someone else? How much time do employees spend each morning triaging and routing new issues? Not only is ticket triage a waste of time for support teams, it lengthens response and resolution times, hurting the customer experience.
Most support ticketing tools have built-in features that automate the process of getting issues to the right department, teams, and/or people, though some are more helpful than others:
To satisfy your customers, you have to keep them in the loop about your progress on solving their issues. Most support ticketing systems have built-in features that send email updates automatically for triggers like updated ticket statuses or new comments.
But another way to boost service quality and performance is to use an email marketing program like ActiveCampaign to build and send onboarding emails that walk new company employees or customers through the process of setting up and using new systems and software.
Automated onboarding campaigns can be as simple as sending a single email to new users with a long list of to-dos and instructions for setting up their systems, or as complex as a series of emails that are each triggered when new users do/don’t take specific actions.
Ordering, configuring, maintaining, and managing company devices and software is another set of support tasks that automation eliminates.
Another IT asset management (ITAM) option to consider is Oomnitza. While it doesn’t have quite as many features as Jamf, it lets teams manage non-Mac devices and produces automated inventory reports.
People forget their passwords—a lot. IT support spends a lot of time on password-related tasks.
Tools like Avatier’s Password Station lets users reset forgotten passwords on their own, automating the identity verification process using encrypted personal data. Employees can reset their passwords online, over the phone with voice recognition technology, or with an RSA SecurID token.
Password managers like 1Password Teams also alleviate some of the burden from support teams by capturing all employee passwords in a central system that only requires a single master password to access. Support teams can also set up vaults for different team members, granting new employees access to multiple secure applications with a single click.
While major corporations may have support teams working around the clock, most SMBs have periods in the evening and over the weekend where no one is actively monitoring tickets or system issues. In this case, it’s important to have an automated system that escalates major issues and incidents to the right people when resolution can’t wait for normal business hours.
Tools like PagerDuty, AlertOps, and Everbridge send automatic voice, text, and email notifications to designated personnel when major incidents occur and let teams set up on-call schedules for who to notify—depending on when the incident occurs.
Adopting automation for your service desk makes life better for everyone. It improves the quality of service you provide to customers. It makes work more fulfilling for your help desk employees by eliminating redundant and uninspiring tasks. And best of all: it lets your support teams accomplish more—even with a budget that’s never quite enough.
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