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Agent deflection with AI

Martin Stewart -


A virtual agent delivers a new, intuitive user experience - diverting thousands of calls and tasks away from your service desk team.

What is agent deflection?

Back in the old days, when an employee had an IT issue, there were two things they could do: pick up the phone, or physically walk into the service desk. Both meant having a one-to-one conversation with an agent. An agent had to be involved in every ticket.

Agent deflection is the use of digital technology to shift employee demand away from expensive, non-scalable one-on-one interaction onto a scalable digital channel.

First there was email: service users could send an email to log a service request, issue, or question. This bypassed the need for a conversation, and service users didn’t need to wait for an agent to pick up the phone. The email channel meant interactions were deflected away from the phone channel. As a result, agents would spend less time on the phone and more time servicing requests – boosting the number of tickets resolved in a day.

Then came service portals – which empowered service users to find and request services, log issues, and find information on how to solve their own basic issues – again, without calling the service desk. The result: agents could focus more time on resolving the complex issues – and less time on phone calls and routine problems.


AI is powering a new age of agent deflection

Now, AI is reinventing the landscape once more. A virtual assistant, driven by AI, can do everything a portal can do, plus many things an agent can do – at a scale that even the largest service desk teams can’t achieve. A virtual assistant can interact with hundreds or thousands of customers at a time.

The power and efficiency of a virtual agent makes it a more appealing channel - for service users and service providers. A virtual assistant gives a service user access to all services, ticket logging, status information, ticket updates, and issue resolutions. It also provides a newer and more intuitive user experience – using natural language. No more navigating through the pages of a portal to find a specific service or piece of information. Simply type in what it is you need – in your own words – and the virtual agent will guide you through the process. It’s like having a team of thousands of agents, with an agent always ready to talk to a service user about what they need.

For example, a virtual assistant can match a user’s request with everything it knows about historic tickets and how they were resolved: to provide the user with a simple and clear how-to guide to self-solve, or even triggering a runbook to instantly fix the issue.

Virtual assistants can also:

  • Provide information about service status.
  • Give service users updates on their open tickets.
  • Automatically update ticket records with further information from the customer.
  • Provide guidance or instance resolution to the sort of common issues that typically tie up 60%-70% of an agent’s time.
  • Escalate cases to a specialist team, if required.


Agent deflection is the key to a pro-active IT team

The capabilities above cover a lot of tasks that happen throughout the average agent’s day. All without a single inbound call to the service desk. Meanwhile, agents can focus on complex and novel issues that are beyond the current capacities of a virtual assistant. And as new machine learning models are developed, the range of scenarios that a virtual assistant can cover expands.

Over time, more of the agent workload is automated – freeing up even more time for agents to implement improvements, build new services, harness emerging technologies, and drive innovation. With more technical people working on innovative technology projects, virtual assistants help drive a huge increase in the pace of digital transformation – delivering a competitive edge for your organization.


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