Coronavirus has ushered upon us an era of isolation and curtailed face-to-face operations in favor of virtual ones. The service demand and delivery has shifted entirely to digital channels. While this trend was visible in the pre-COVID-19 world too, the global pandemic has accelerated the digital-first engagement to something which is presently being termed as the “New Normal”.
However, as employees continue working from home, businesses, and their customer service / IT helpdesk teams are confronted with new challenges. They are witnessing an unprecedented level of demand, plus constant changes in the support volume due to new platforms and remote working.
A recent Zendesk study found that there has been, on average, a 48% increase in the number of support tickets since last February, witnessed at their platform. The study clearly shows that your employees are heavily reliant on instant and quality technical support during this “remote everything” era.
But the question is: how can organizations transform their IT helpdesk operations amidst the ongoing COVID-19 crisis to ensure business continuity, high employee productivity without overburdening their IT helpdesk?
Round-the-clock self-service platforms such as chatbots or virtual assistants, fueled by conversational AI and NLP, are helping best-in-class organizations adapt and efficiently manage their employee and customer engagements during the “New Normal”
How do Chatbots/Virtual Agents fit the bill?
With employees working from home, businesses are struggling to present them with efficient self-service options to ensure an uninterrupted flow of work and minimal business disruption. An AI-powered Chatbot that delivers 24X7 self-service framework for the employees could be the ideal option. It can offer prompt support to basic employee issues and queries and quickly escalate the complex interactions to human agents.
Furthermore, Chatbots or Virtual Agents can be deployed seamlessly across multiple digital channels and devices (including webchat and SMS for text-based service delivery and phone calls and smart speakers for voice-based interactions). Such conversational AI is scalable and improves its performance with time as it leverages and learns from other data to optimize the quality of replies. Thus, it can be safely said that a Chatbot gets smarter from experience, just like the best human agents do.
Now, let us take a deep dive into the benefits of Chatbots/Virtual agents in regards to employee productivity.
6 Ways to Improve Employee Productivity in the “New Normal” with Chatbots/Virtual Agents
1. Provide Round-The-Clock and Instant Resolutions
In today’s remote working scenario, where employees have to manage kids, pets, and home responsibilities alongside their office duties, employees usually have to extend their working hours beyond the conventional 8 to 5 period. Therefore, organizations must have round-the-clock IT helpdesk support to provide instant resolutions to employee support requests. By using Chatbots, organizations can tackle this aspect. Standard queries that would otherwise have to wait for at least a few hours, can be resolved instantly by AI chatbots and without any human intervention. Industry studies suggest that modern-day chatbots can answer roughly 80% of standard questions.
2. Eliminate Time-Consuming Searches for Information
Chatbots can significantly improve employee experience. It can transform the way employees across an organization seek information. Let us take simple web searches as an example. Traditional online searches might deliver results that are completely irrelevant and thus useless for the employees. Employees end up spending a lot of time making such futile searches. Instead, specialized Chatbots with a rich domain or technology-specific knowledgebase can provide the most relevant answers to employee searches instantly. It can do all the legwork for the employees, save their time, and help them stay highly productive.
3. Anchor Learning of New Technology Implementations
COVID-19 and the consequent “New Normal” is presenting businesses with new challenges every day. Organizations are implementing new cloud-based technologies to tackle such challenges. However, these new implementations can create roadblocks for employee productivity. Employees would be needing time and sufficient training to learn, adapt, and utilize new technologies. Chatbots or Virtual Agents can address this problem. They can act as a personal coach, mentor, and learning buddy providing continuous and personalized support to fast-track learning of a new system.
4. Automate Mundane Tasks and Liberates Talent
A lot of work within any organization is routine and repetitive. Chatbots can liberate employees from such mundane and repetitive tasks. AI chatbots have been designed to complete such tasks faster and more efficiently than humans. Automating high-demand, but low-level work through a chatbot can free up essential time for employees. They can spend this time in taking up new initiatives that require human knowledge, intuition, and empathy. Instead of being deluged by repetitive tasks, the chatbot allows your helpdesk agents to be more productive and solve only complex problems. Chatbots allow your agents time to research, learn, and get better at what they are doing. Additionally, automation can also help organizations with the implementation of an organization-wide Governance structure.
5. Extend Support in Native Language and Understands Contexts
While a majority of your employees are multilingual, they might be more at ease while interacting in their mother language. Language is often an important factor in the extent of help you can deliver to the employees. Having an English-only support mechanism is not always ideal for employees, especially if you have employees or presence in multiple nations. Chatbots can offer multi-language support which comes handy while using them in different regions marked by different languages. Thanks to built-in AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP), the bots can understand the context of a conversation, quickly identify the purpose of employees’ queries, and thereby provide the most appropriate responses to employees.
6. Enable Efficient Access to Business Data
Chatbots are brilliant in the process of unifying data from each department, practice, and operation across the organization. They can be easily and quickly integrated with LOB applications (such as ticketing systems, Intranet, Microsoft Teams, etc.) and external sources. Once this is done, Chatbots can act as a concierge and fetch the data required from relevant data sources with just a ping. However, before enabling the information, bots do check for permission levels, identify the area of query and check the access levels of the employee, and respond accordingly.
COVID-19 has created a planet of minimal certainty. However, one thing you can anticipate is: Chatbots will be a cornerstone of business continuity, employee productivity, and organizational growth during the digital-first “New Normal” and beyond. In the coming months, AI Chatbots would be a leading force across industries and verticals.