The way in which the service desk agents perform their routine tasks has changed completely in today’s times. The way they operated one or two decades ago was a traditional way of doing tasks whereas now, things have changed for the better. A simple comparison of two years, 2015 and 2017 shows such a notable increase in automation of service tasks.
What is service desk automation?
Traditionally, when a person faces some complaint or issue, he will contact the help desk. The person at the help desk shall perform a series of events just to open a ticket regarding the issue. Then he shall assign it to an appropriate authority and then the problem is resolved or moved ahead to another authority as the case may be. All these tasks shall take days or at times weeks for the whole process to get completed and the customer will be frustrated by this whole process mostly because he is not informed about the status of his complaint or when it will be resolved. The employees working at the service desk are also frustrated as they have to perform the same set of given tasks everyday monotonously.
This is where technologically advanced systems like service desk automation can be introduced where all these tasks are performed by use of technology and human intervention is made minimal in this whole process. The chances of error are reduced as the simple or complex AI-powered systems are put in place as per need.
This results not only in better utilization of human resources available to the business but also the prompt resolution of complaints and errors and also a high level of employee and customer satisfaction. Also, how can you forget the financial gains it can fetch you in terms of cost savings.
Benefits of help desk automation
Increased speed of execution
The average time taken by the companies to respond to the requests of their customer is 12 hours and 10 minutes. Whereas the customers expect a response for their complaint emails within an hour. This can be made possible only with help desk automation. The time taken by a process is reduced significantly as the processes go automatic. The detection of the type of ticket to be generated and the authority of allotment of the ticket is decided by the system itself making it less time-consuming.
Reduced operational costs
The cost of running a help desk is not seen as a production cost as it doesn’t generate revenue for the company. This is the reason the budget allocation for help desks also remains on the lower side. If help desk automation is undertaken, it may result in capital expenditure but the recurring cost of this department is reduced.
Improved user experience
A survey gave insights that 62 percent of the companies don’t reply to email complaints at all while some take up to 8 days to do so. This makes the customer angry and dissatisfied because he expects an answer within an hour or so. With help desk automation, a better user experience can be served to the existing customers making them prospective recurring customers for the company.
Reduced human errors
The best part of automation is that it is free from human susceptibility to uninformed errors. Customer satisfaction plays an important role for any organization and a decrease in errors can help you achieve that with more conviction.
Reduced human intervention
Human intervention in any process can give a chance for malicious interruption. An automatic process is less vulnerable to such interruptions as it requires a group of people to be involved for anything to go wrong here.
Extending and enhancing human capabilities
A monotonous task can impede the working interest of any person. Generally, the people working on the service desk have to deal with the same line of work of listening to complaints and forwarding them to respective people. This makes it tedious and makes them lose their work interest. Help desk automation can not only reduce the costs but also help in putting human resources to better use.
Happier support team
When the support team only handles the special type of tasks leaving the routine ones to the systems, it makes them more interested in their work. They come across new challenges and come up with creative ways to deal with them
The system can keep a track of how, when, and by whom the request was handled, what is its current status, and all other related details. This makes the system transparent and less prone to any future problems.
Common Areas for Service Desk Automation
The areas for automation can be majorly classified into three categories
1) Access Management
Access Management refers to the granting or restriction to use a particular service or system. It is important to give restricted access in matters revolving around sensitive areas.
a. Access Request
Initial access is given as per your duty and role. However, later there might be a need to alter the access due to a change in role or requirement. If this is done through help desk automation with a simple one-click request and permission, a lot of formalities can be avoided.
b. Employee Onboarding
When a new employee gets onboard with the organization, his role is decided, and based on his role, he can be given access to the areas that will be necessary for his area of work. Automation can serve as an important tool in making an assignment without any bias.
c. Workflow Request
Distinctive workflow requests are repeated time after time in the organization; be it employee onboarding or approval of tasks. Workflow requests can be automated in such cases with service desk automation to make the process smooth & efficient.
d. Document access
Some documents are reserved for access to specific departments and levels. Also, there may be a need to share the document with someone. If service desk automation is implemented within the organization, all this can be done just in one or two clicks as compared to long procedures done traditionally.
e. Application/System Access
An organization can have certain systems or applications restricted to certain departments. However, there might arise an occasional need to give access outside the normal purview, automation can prove helpful.
f. Terminate User
When a position is removed or an employee leaves an organization, all the access given to him shall be taken back and terminated so that the same is not misused later.
g. Modify details
The existing details, personal or otherwise, have to be frequently modified and to make the modifications simple and easier, help desk automation is advised. 78 percent of people said they forget their password and have to go for a reset. Help desk automation can greatly reduce the human efforts involved in this.
2) Incident management
Incident management is a set of activities of an organization to identify, analyze, and correct hazards to prevent a future recurrence.
a. Risk management
Many help desk automation software includes basic risk management features that can not only assess the given risk but also provide solutions for the same.
b. Security breach
Help desk automation systems serve as a front line of defense against any security breach. If any anomaly is observed, it not only informs the concerned authorities but also maintains a log of such anomalies. This can be vital information for organizations.
c. IOC Hunting
IOC can alert you of potential attacks, network breaches, and malware infections. Relate your IOC with digital assets, give a rank to the potential risks to focus only on the ones that matter the most, and protect all using firewalls and other available means.
d. Malicious Activity
Help desk automation can help in avoiding the risk of malicious activity. It comes with extensive features inclusive of SSL, two-factor authentication, password encryption, and a lot more. There is no chance of data theft or any occurrence of malicious activity.
e. Sandbox Analysis
Though malware analysis sandboxes were used more as a part of manual analysis, it is gaining popularity in automated systems also. It offers the benefit of identifying the previously unseen malware as an observed activity in a sandbox as a basis of detection.
a. Hardware Issues
Let’s say if your printer is down and you need to access the network printer. This can be done in just a matter of click-through help desk automation. It can also contribute to managing a company's technological assets by monitoring hardware like laptops and servers.
b. Software Issues
If your software needs an upgrade or renewal, the IT department is made aware of that through an automatic channel or a simple reminder through the system, and the communication is done very easily.
c. Speeding up a slow computer
When your computer is working slow, help desk systems see through the programs and files that are occupying more resources and try to reduce them to an acceptable level. Smooth functioning is all it seeks.
d. Network issues
When the network is spread across various floors in a building or at multiple sites, fluctuations in access speed is often experienced. Even network upgrades can make processes work slower. So planning is done to execute this with minimal disruption through automated systems.
Common mistakes to avoid:
1) Do not over-automate
It is just as important to know what not to automate as it is to know what to automate. Over-automation can add to the problems and complexities instead of removing them. Though there is no specific guidance on what not to automate it is prudent to not automate uncommon processes, areas with low return on investment, and the processes that are very complex.
2) Beware of automation silos
If multiple systems are working in isolation and there is no harmony established between them then implementing the service desk automation will serve no purpose. Fragmented systems can have a negative impact instead of helping the organization in times of need.
3) Do not track wrong metrics
Peter Drucker has said, "If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”. But if you are tracking wrong data, how can you proceed to improve in the right direction.
It is true that automation of certain processes in an organization can transform your organization’s horizons and help you boost the capabilities of manpower employed and get you financial gains. But for that, it is also important to analyze the processes appropriately and decide on what to do and what not to do in automation.