Why the digital workforce won’t take over the service desk

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Artificial Intelligence in Service Automation

As a child, you had an imaginative mind that could create worlds beyond reach. For instance, thinking of the future was always about self-driving cars for me, and Gotham City-like metropolitans. Or robots. The 2001 movie A.I. Artificial Intelligence, by Steven Spielberg, showcases this futuristic world. The flick portrays the late 22nd century.

Nowadays, we’re bombarded even more with AI-related topics. One of those topics is the digital workforce. A threat  or a blessing for the service desk?

What is a digital workforce?

A digital workforce is a collection of “software robots” that support and augment the work humans do. The work done by the robots basically replaces the humans’ effort.

The number of mistakes, however, is much lower. Plus, robots can be faster and more efficient. They don’t get sick or go on holidays. And scaling up or down is more easily done, without personal emotions coming into play.

Another advantage of working with robots lies in their consistency. Many organizations are always looking to structure their processes. The goal of working with processes is to guarantee a consistent quality of services, no matter the supplier.

However, humans can be less motivated on certain days, which may lead to a decline in the quality of the services your organization offers. Despite processes being followed. You don’t have this problem with robots. Consistency is their key.

We shouldn’t consider robots as a replacement for human beings, but see them as an augmentation for service desk employees.

Digital workforce: the end of a human service desk?

So, are robots a big enough reason to cut your service desk department in half? Do they enable you to achieve the same outcome and level of quality with half of your workforce? Some companies are actually considering this path, or even pursuing it.

As a service desk employee, these are scary developments. But is a digital workforce really the way to go in the long run?

Personally, I believe you should aim for service excellence. And, in my opinion, a human being is the only one who can provide that. It’s true that the quality of the service provided can vary per person. However, I think services can only exceed expectations by using the advantages of human interaction. One thing a robot can’t have is actual empathy. Humans are still the only ones that can adjust their service delivery to fit the emotional needs of the customer.

When you know that a customer has had a rough day, you can deliver your service with some extra care, for instance. Therefore, human beings are still vital for delivering an excellent service experience.

The future of hiring service desk employees may be a bit different, however. When interviewing new candidates you should probably focus more on their empathy level. Can they understand the situations of customers well enough to adjust the delivery of the service to their individual needs?

Frank Smit, Chief Innovation Officer at our partner OBI4wan, explains what chatbots are and which processes you can (and cannot) utilize them for.

One plus one is three

The digital workforce at the service desk won’t replace service desk staff any time soon. We shouldn’t consider robots as a replacement for human beings, but consider them as an augmentation for service desk employees. The digital workforce should take over boring and recurring tasks, freeing up time for the humans to focus on the individual needs of the customer.

To summarize, robots can efficiently identify solutions for a customer’s problem. So that service desk employees are helped in their attempt to help the customer. It’s all about connecting the digital workforce and the service desk, ensuring service desk employees can make the difference in service delivery. By implementing an AI solution in this way, you’ll get a step closer to service excellence.

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