During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, IT operations have been challenged as organizations that were used to supporting an on-premises workforce found themselves pivoting to support remote workers.
The new normal in 2022 is that of hybrid work and, according to a survey from enterprise service management (ESM) vendor Espressive (conducted by Gatepoint Research), IT service management (ITSM) tools aren't quite up to the challenge of improving user productivity.
According to the report, for 74% of onsite employees and 80% of remote employees, the phone is still the preferred method for getting help from IT. Adding insult to injury, 57% of employees say it takes too long to get resolutions, which is further exacerbated by the fact that 22% of the ITSM organizations surveyed do not provide support outside of business hours.
"The biggest surprise was that although we are in the second year of COVID, most ITSM organizations have not redesigned employee support for a hybrid world. Instead, employees continue to struggle to get help the way they always have," Pat Calhoun, founder and CEO of Espressive, told ITPro Today.
Key Metrics for Measuring ITSM Productivity for Hybrid Workforces
There are several main metrics that IT service desk leaders care about, according to Calhoun. They include mean time to resolution (MTTR), call hold times, number of tickets processed, and service desk agent performance (tickets closed/week). Calhoun noted that the actual numbers in the metrics have changed throughout the pandemic, primarily because of the hybrid workforce.
"Shoulder tapping our colleagues with questions is no longer possible, which has led to a 35% increase in service desk tickets," he said.
The additional tickets generated by hybrid workers have overwhelmed many service desks, which have experienced an average attrition rate of 41%, as well as a 102% increase in absenteeism, according to Calhoun. This has resulted in fewer fully trained service desk agents to handle tickets and has led to a 68% increase in ticket backlogs.
With 57% of employees saying their biggest complaint is that it takes too long to get resolutions, leveraging virtual agent technology to free up service desk agents has never been more important.
Improving ITSM Outcomes with Virtual Agents
The report clearly shows that IT service desks continue to see phones as the channel that drives the most tickets.
"Telephone support is the most expensive channel as service desk agents can only handle one phone call at a time, limiting the number of tickets they can resolve," Calhoun said.
One potential way to improve telephone support is to use virtual agents, which is the technology that Espressive sells. One of the reasons why virtual agents prebuilt to understand the language of employees have become so popular is that more than 86% of what employees ask is the same across almost every organization, he said.
The top five IT service desk requests, according to Calhoun, are:
- password reset/lockouts
- access requests for software/services
- FAQs about telework solutions (e.g., VPN, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, MFA)
- triage network issues (e.g., WiFi, VPN, slow network)
- ticket status updates.
"When virtual agents first entered the market, they focused on providing responses to common questions, which is something generally handled by a tier 1 service desk agent," he said. "Today’s virtual agents go beyond that to automate tasks such as provisioning software accounts, which in most organizations are handled by a separate highly qualified team."