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Everything You Need To Know About Virtual Support Agents (VSAs) - 3 Key Factors Which Can Make Or Break It

Aug. 18, 2022

Everything You Need To Know About Virtual Support Agents (VSAs) - 3 Key Factors Which Can Make Or Break It

Special Bytes By Jincy Oommen, Solution Consultant at AutomationEdge - Everything You Need To Know About Virtual Support Agents (VSAs)

3 Key Factors Which Can Make Or Break It. Why General Purpose AI May Not Be The Answer?


Everything You Need to Know About Virtual Support Agents (VSAs)

Featured Special Bytes with Jincy Oommen

Employees are waiting longer than usual to hear from IT departments, especially during the pandemic. Even with the presence of an omnipresent chatbot with preset answers, the situation remained the same. Curious to know why and how VSAs could change the game forever?

“VSAs are not just a chatbot. A chatbot uses rules-based algorithms to answer questions, while a virtual support assistant integrates with an organization's existing systems to fulfil employee tasks. Backed by AI and conversational capabilities, VSAs understand context, user preferences and sentiments.”

In this Special Bytes episode, our guest Jincy Oommen talks about Virtual Support Agents, a.k.a. VSAs, for better and faster resolutions of tickets and improving customer happiness. Jincy is working as a Solution Consultant at AutomationEdge.

She discusses 3 Key Factors Which Can Make or Break It and How to Ensure Delightful Employee & Customer Experiences (DECx)?

Don't miss the part where she discusses Why General-Purpose AI May Not Be The Answer and What to look for when choosing a VSA partner?

“VSAs require a shift in the culture where the knee-jerk response is to pick up the phone or send off an email after running into an IT glitch. VSAs can help employees help themselves and allow a company to evolve and transform digitally.”

Reference: https://aitsmcoop.com/article/what-you-need-to-know-before-investing-in-virtual-support-agents/

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Transcript

Jincy Oommen: Welcome back to the AITSM Show. I am Jincy Oommen, and I work as a Solution Consultant with AutomationEdge. In today's special bytes episode, we will discuss a topic that is the most important for better and faster resolutions of tickets and improving customer happiness. Yes, it is about virtual support agents, a.k.a. VSAs.

Employees are waiting longer than usual to hear back from IT departments, especially during the pandemic. Enterprises are leveraging newer technologies like Virtual Support Agents or VSAs to reduce wait times and boost employee satisfaction.

VSAs are a type of virtual assistant that includes chatbot and automation capabilities. They deliver information, provide answers to common questions and perform transactions to offer help in IT support alongside the IT service desk. As VSAs use the natural language for conversation, no technical training is required, making it easy to adopt.

VSAs are not just a chatbot. 

A chatbot uses rules-based algorithms to answer questions, while a virtual assistant integrates with an organization's existing systems to fulfil employee tasks. Backed by AI and conversational capabilities, VSAs understand context, user preferences and sentiments.

As per HDI's report, self-help can drive a 42% reduction in tickets. Any IT Service Desk would be delighted to hear that. 

For example, an employee raises an issue: Her printer is not working. This is a common issue that the employee herself can resolve. The employee gets on the chatbot, logs her complaint, and the VSA gets into action, offering a solution as a how-to knowledge article from an up-to-date knowledge management repository. The employee then tries the fix. If it works, it solves the issue. If not, the employee can send another ticket.

The selection and serving of how-to knowledge articles by a VSA are not trivial. There is a lot of AI and deep-learning science behind it. Despite no prior labelling of data, the VSA picks up precisely the relevant article. It understands phrases, sentences and context. Being contextually aware comes from the deep history data of the employee's previous queries — for example, how many tickets were raised in the past and what the issues were.

Let's say an employee is unable to configure her remote desktop, and the chatbot offers a relevant article. If the fix does not work, the employee could create a ticket or talk to a live agent. Upon receiving the call in the chat window, the live agent invokes a standing incident history of all the prior conversations the employee has had with IT. He has the history available at his fingertips and acts as a fallback to a VSA when the VSA cannot resolve an employee's issue. After fixing the ticket, the live agent could cycle back to build a new knowledge article, further enriching the enterprise's repository of knowledge articles.

There are always unique issues for which a relevant knowledge article may not exist. In that case, the system pulls up an appropriate form to capture the specific details of the problem to create a rich and detailed ticket. The ticket includes details such as the browser version the user is on or what error code she saw. Thus, rich tickets assist IT teams in resolving tickets faster.

What are the challenges to adopting VSAs? 

The VSA is only as good as the knowledge repository it relies on. It needs a corporate-wide commitment to the solution's success, which involves the diligent documentation and updating of knowledge articles across the company.

It helps to have a strong company culture for sharing information. This culture will depend on an enterprise that will adopt new technologies. With an ever-younger workforce, VSAs play to this strength. VSAs require a shift in the culture where the knee-jerk response is to pick up the phone or send off an email after running into an IT glitch. VSAs can help employees help themselves and allow a company to evolve and transform digitally.

However, the speed of VSA implementation depends on the type of AI being used. General-purpose AI lends itself to longer implementation time and limited coverage.

In addition, for VSAs to be successful, the entire company needs to be using it. If employees don't get the answers they expect, they won't keep using it. No room for trial and error. The success of the VSA solution lies in the richness of the knowledge repository.

What should you look for when evaluating a VSA partner? 

IT support is a mature field with its own language. Over the past few years, IT support has grown fast with companies like ServiceNow and BMC that have enriched the marketplace with innovative solutions. A partner that connects to these crucial platforms is essential for a VSA solution.

Once connected, the right VSA partner needs to use purpose-built AI for IT to understand, route, coordinate and fulfill requests from the diverse platforms in a client's IT support universe. Look for partners with this experience who have developed a rich repository of extensive knowledge articles both from open and closed databases. With the right partner, enterprises can do away with investing in expensive AI and domain skills.

While many general-purpose AI-powered systems like IBM Watson or MS LUIS are available in the market, we must train them in IT management before using them in a service desk environment. These systems will also need to be trained regularly to keep systems up to date. General-purpose AI platforms might take significant time to train and fulfil the IT service desk's complex requirements.

Look for potential partners whose solutions will allow you to get started immediately. 

General-purpose AI providers might demand their clients to build their own repositories over time, but who has time for that?

Thanks a lot for listening. Please let us know what topics we could add here. And give us feedback. And if you have loved it. Please share it generously.

Thanks again. Bye-bye.

Reference: https://aitsmcoop.com/article/what-you-need-to-know-before-investing-in-virtual-support-agents/

Jincy Oommen Profile Photo

Jincy Oommen

Solution Consultant at AutomationEdge

Expertise in Client Handling, Tender Submissions, Tender Writing, Public Speaking, Market Research Project Management, and Management Information Systems (MIS). Strong engineering professional with a Bachelor's degree focused in Electrical, Electronics and Communications Engineering from Savitribai Phule Pune University.