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Boost your service desk agent experience with AI-driven ITSM

Martin Stewart -


Looking after the IT people you already have is the best way to solve the IT skills shortage.

Organizations focus on improving customer experiences, but improving the agent experience is often overlooked. However, making life easier for service desk agents pays real dividends: lower staff churn, happier and more engaged agents, reduced costs, and better service for employees and customers/citizens. New AI-driven features for service desk solutions can transform an agent’s working day—with a profound impact on your service desk and the people it supports.

What do we mean by agent experience (AX)?

The agent experience is what a service desk agent’s day looks like. There are two key elements that influence an agent’s day: The number (and type) of tickets they must get through. And the tools they’re given to help them manage and close those tickets quickly and efficiently.

What a bad agent experience typically looks like:

  • Phones always ringing.
  • No time between calls to document resolutions and share knowledge.
  • Big backlogs of tickets put continued pressure on agents.
  • Lots of time spent looking for information on how to pinpoint and resolve issues.
  • No time for training or career development.
  • Siloed and competitive team culture.

What a good agent experience looks like:

  • Most tickets are logged digitally by end users through a self-service portal, meaning the phones don’t ring all day. Users only call in when they really need to speak to a person.
  • Time between calls means knowledge can be captured and shared, assisting the rest of the team to solve repeat issues quickly and decisively.
  • They have the information they need about customers, devices, software, services, and suppliers at their fingertips.
  • Agents have time to reduce and close-off the ticket backlog, as well as more time to investigating and resolving the infrastructure (and service experience) problems that are the source of common tickets.
  • The focus is on solving and supporting the new, not constantly repeating the old. A focus on novel work means agents learn more, faster, giving them a better sense of growth and progression.
  • Colleagues actively mentor and share knowledge. Managers actively engage agents to check they have everything they need to provide the best possible support to customers. A culture of growth.

Why is the agent experience important?

According to HDI, the average annual agent turnover in a service desk is 40%. In many organizations, churn is even higher. As much as half of your service desk workforce could be walking out the door every year. Each one takes their knowledge and skills with them. Further research from HDI shows that it costs $12,000/£9500 to recruit and train a new agent. Training takes time. Meanwhile, 2 out of 5 calls to your service desk are going to an inexperienced agent.

High service desk staff churn means poor employee experience. Happy service desk agents are better service desk agents. They’re less stressed, more engaged, and more motivated to help service consumers in the best way they can. That means better outcomes for employees (and their customers). And higher satisfaction with your service desk. It’s a cascading positive effect.

How do you drive a better agent experience?

Listen to your agents. They know best what’s frustrating them. They know what they’re spending time on. Monitoring agents at the ticket level won’t give you the full story. Working a ticket can involve a whole string of tasks. Some of these tasks are unique to a ticket type. Others are common across a whole range of issues. Some are easy. Others are harder than they ought to be—and take more time than they should. Ask your service desk agents what their day looks like. How is their time used? What do they feel is holding them back from solving issues faster? Which tasks do find frustrating? What are they having to do manually too often?

Feedback from your agents will give you a sense of where improvements need to be made. Some of these problems might be solved with additional training. Some may relate to organizational cultural issues. Some can be tackled with new technology. Whatever they are, whatever the cause, it’s the role of IT management to find and solve the issues that are preventing service desk agents from doing their best work.

Improve AX to reduce staff churn and solve the IT skills gap

Working in a service desk is seen as a good first step into the IT industry, but the work is often repetitive and poorly paid, so people move on to find better opportunities for career progression.

By using AI to automate common agent tasks, you can make the agent experience more pleasant and fulfilling. They can spend less time on the routine work they have already mastered (and are bored with), and more time tackling novel issues that use and develop their technical problem-solving skills.

You want them to grow and develop inside your organization, instead of going elsewhere to make progress. It’s the best strategy to future-proof your organization against the IT skills shortage.

How can an AI-driven service desk solution help with routine tickets?

Firstly, a more compelling self-service experience to deflect calls away from service desk agents—so that they are no longer swamped with repetitive, low-level calls and tickets. Where a self-service portal will let a service user log tickets and find self-solve knowledge for common issues, an AI-driven virtual agent can directly assist end users on a much broader set of issues, requests, and information queries.

Virtual agents are scalable. They can handle many customer interactions at once; actioning solutions or providing step-by-step instructions that end users can follow to self-solve. That means a virtual agent can look after all the mundane tasks. Routine human work becomes machine work. Agents are free to eliminate backlogs, solve infrastructure issues, remove friction points from digital service experiences, and shift focus to new tech projects. As a result, the profile of human work fundamentally changes - shifting closer to what your agents want it to be. After just a short time spent training a virtual agent’s machine learning model (using your existing support data), there’s a real change in what life looks like on your service desk.

How can AI help with more complex tickets?

When a ticket can’t be handled by a virtual agent, and really does need to be handled by a human agent, AI can augment the agent’s own capabilities.

Typically, the most complex and time-consuming tasks for an agent are generative. They need to get an understanding of the issue. They need to produce possible solutions (or workarounds). They need to explain the situation to a colleague who is taking over the ticket. And they need to clearly document what they did to solve the issue in a way that everybody else in the team can understand.

It’ll come as no surprise that a generative AI (such as ChatGPT) can quickly assist agents with these kinds of tasks across a broad range of scenarios. This means that generative AI technology can provide assistance with almost every ticket passing through the service desk team. That means minutes saved on every call. And more incidents resolved on the first call.

Here’s how generative AI can help agents process more tickets, faster:

  • Clarifying the issue: Agents can input a prompt in a field right in the ticket record to pull deep information on the symptoms and potential root causes of the issue—to get answers in just a few seconds. No need to search a knowledge base or ask colleagues.
  • Finding suggested solutions: Likewise, step-by-step solutions to a wide range of common problems can be found in the same way.
  • Streamlining ticket handovers: Automatic, one-click summarisation of a ticket’s details and history means reassignment to another team member (or higher support tier) takes seconds instead of minutes.
  • Knowledge creation: Instant generation of draft knowledge articles from the information held within your historic tickets. It’s now quick and easy to generate knowledge articles for agents and end users—boosting agent efficiency and end user self-solve rates.
  • General content assistance: Service desks work with a lot of text-based content—where quality matters. Pervasive AI text assistance tools embedded alongside every text area lets agents instantly quality check, shift tone, and reformat text content at the click of a button.

For some tickets, one of these tools will help. For others, all of these will be used. The more complex the ticket, the greater the time savings. AI-driven agent augmentation means agents get the most assistance when they’re facing the toughest challenges.

Find out more about how Hornbill’s AI-driven agent tools boost agent efficiency

Transforming what a service desk agent’s day looks like

AI is taking the agent experience to the next level—transforming what it means to be a service desk agent. The beauty of Generative AITSM for agents is that it’s easy to adopt (requires no technical training), and is immediately scalable across all your agents. It slots right into the screens that they use every day—for one-click access to AI power. That means time and energy are saved on every ticket, every day, for every agent—translating into a massive productivity boost for agents and end users.

  • They spend less time on routine work and more time on challenging and fulfilling projects that they find engaging.
  • This also translates into rapid elimination of ticket backlogs—reducing agent stress levels and giving them renewed focus on priority issues.
  • Agents have more time and energy for new technology products, accelerating the organization’s digital agenda. They get to do more of the work they want to do.
  • Higher engagement and lower stress levels mean reduced staff churn—helping you avoid the IT skills shortage.
  • With more time for training, and mentoring, service desk culture becomes more collaborative. Life at work on the service desk becomes better. Agents are happier—with a positive effect on the end user service experience.


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