What is the number one dilemma of the CIO trying to support and bring value to the business? While managing a core IT staff and driving innovation through technological services are primary concerns, the main priority that is always top-of-mind usually comes down to one thing – cost. How much overhead cost will it take to implement and manage this new ITSM solution? How can we grow and expand business operations and reduce ticket volume without spending more on staffing and help desk resources? How can we stay competitive without going over a tight IT budget?
These are the questions that a CIO must answer in order to be successful. Since IT is generally not considered a revenue driving part of the business, it is critical to keep costs low and exceed ROI goals.
So with that in mind, how exactly can a CIO improve efficiency of his or her IT organization while also reducing service desk costs? Check out these five ways the IT organization can keep down costs on the service desk.
1. Support and Maintain a Strong Knowledge Base
Strong governance and process for Knowledge Management should be the backbone of any IT organization’s self-service strategy. A well-curated Knowledge Base made up of break/fix solutions, common resolutions, best-practices, tutorials, and other help articles is the best way to disseminate knowledge to end users who otherwise may engage the help desk to solve common or low-level incidents.
According to HDI, the average cost per ticket for North America is roughly $15.56, but can go up to almost $50 depending on the wages for help desk staff and the time/complexity involved in the resolution. With staff burdened with hundreds of tickets per month, achieving end user buy-in for self-service alternatives will help to reduce ticket volume, and ultimately costs. For this to happen, end users must have easy access to a robust Knowledge Base that provides solutions to low-level incidents, thus giving IT staff more time and resources to resolve more complex tickets.
2. Implement a Chatbot for Better Self-Service Engagement
While a Knowledge Base provides the bulk of the resources to fuel self-service support, end users may still need more guidance to find exactly what they’re looking for. With the rise of smartphone applications, AI, and IoT, end users have become accustomed to services that remove barriers of complexity and work proactively to provide solutions. Recent developments in Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning have helped to refine Chatbot agents, which have traditionally been rigid in execution, to deliver a more sophisticated end user experience. These smart chat agents can intelligently analyze user queries, gauge sentiment, and deliver solutions in real-time, and with more speed and efficiency than a live support agent. And their popularity among users within the enterprise is growing. According to Gartner, by the year 2020, 60% of smartphone users will interact with more proactive personal and professional smart agents than apps.
The value for chatbots on the IT self-service portal is clear. If a virtual assistant can process low-level requests and return solutions from the knowledge base, announcements, or other parts of the portal with a high enough confidence score, then it will encourage more end users to interact with it. This may be preferred over their possible frustration scouring the KB search or them using up precious help desk resources by submitting a ticket. Overall, Chatbots help to automate support for low-level requests, reducing help desk ticket volume and providing a better, more engaging experience over traditional search.
3. Automate Routine Tasks
Implementing key automation can make an enormous difference in maximizing your help desk staff’s workday efficiency and meeting the ROI from your service desk solution. These automations can extend anywhere from common user issues like password resets, to mundane work tasks like ticket routing and capturing IT change artifacts. The more your service desk solution can help to reduce bottlenecks and remove the shackles from staff who must work through them, the more time they have to be productive working on the line items that most warrant their time and attention. More productivity is definitely a good thing, and will go a long way in reducing cost over time.
4. Be Proactive
This is an area that we like to continually emphasize in our blog content. I’ve previously written about IT’s evolving role during a time of digital transformation. In this article, I wrote about the emergence of “smart” technologies and how they have contributed to increased proactivity on the service desk:
“…new “smart” technologies have emerged to help IT shift from a traditional reactive way of processing and handling requests, to a more proactive style, where issues are identified and resolved before ever getting to the help desk. The future for the IT service desk is leaner, faster, and much more efficient than anything we could have envisioned even just a few short years ago, when these technologies were still just in their infancy - and we’re only just scratching the surface.”
This “proactive” mode of support can manifest in a variety of ways on the service desk. From leveraging smart automation that helps to make the best ticket routing decisions, to predictive analytics on the dashboard that allow staff and IT managers to detect problematic trends that may affect SLA, working ahead of time to solve issues before they occur can make a significant impact in maximizing cost efficiency.
5. Provide Contextual Staff Assistance
End users aren’t the only ones interacting with the service desk that can benefit from having a little smart assistance. IT staff can be more productive by leveraging intelligent tools that help them to breeze through ticket processing, and provide more accurate resolutions in less time. IT service desk solutions now have the power to tap into their entire ticket history, and assist staff users with contextual data to speed up ticket processing.
Imagine a scenario where a help desk staff user receives an incoming incident ticket regarding an internet connectivity issue. The service desk uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to parse the language of the ticket summary, and provides contextual, in-ticket recommendations for what the ticket type should be, who it should be assigned to, the level of urgency and more, etc., all by analyzing the data it has learned from the organization’s ticket history. Additionally, the system can return recommendations from the Knowledge Base. Through the power of AI and in-application assistance, staff can speed up ticket fulfillment, expedite training, and minimize mistakes. And with more help for the staff user, the more tickets they can complete in less time, reducing costs for the organization.
These are just a few simple ways to reduce costs on the IT service desk using new and innovative technologies. Have anything to add? Drop us a comment below!