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The Complete Guide to Automated Chatbots for ITSM

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Oded Moshe

min read

What Is a Chatbot?

Modern chatbots are commonly a conversational artificial intelligence (AI) support tool. An IT service management (ITSM) chatbot, or service bot, can be considered an automated 24×7 first-contact support capability.

Organizations can make chatbots available in business-to-consumer (B2C) or business-to-business (B2B) scenarios, or use them internally to support the needs of employees. And they will gladly help you pass time when there’s no one to chat with. It’s totally not sad or anything.

1. How Do Chatbots Work?

A conversational chatbot allows the person requiring assistance to use questions and statements to engage during the journey to the solution they need. For example, by asking, “How do I get access to international roaming on my mobile?”

An IT organization can employ an internally-facing chatbot in various ways. For example, as part of a self-service portal, via an IT support app, or within employee work-collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams and Slack. Whichever of these routes to chatbot assistance is used by end users, they can get immediate assistance with their simple issues and requests. If the chatbot can’t help, based on its knowledge, it can seamlessly pass the end user and their need to a service desk agent (or help them log a ticket).

2. Is Chatbot the Same as a Help Bot?

No.

Roll the credits!

However, if we dig a little bit deeper, the question of whether an ITSM chatbot is the same as a help bot depends on the solutions being considered. Fundamentally though, a help bot usually provides answers to simple end-user questions, while an ITSM chatbot does so much more.
Not only providing the answers to end-user questions but also acting as the interface to the ITSM processes related to incidents, service requests, and potentially changes. The short answer is that an ITSM chatbot does so much more than a help bot (no offense, help bot).

What Are the Different Types of Service Bots?

Not all bots are born equal, though, as shown in the chatbot versus help bot section. Instead, service bots will differ based on the needs of the organizations that employ them.

1. Menu/Button-Based Chatbots

Menu/button-based chatbots are the most basic chatbot type. They involve button-accessed decision tree hierarchies to get the end user to their desired solution. They work well in FAQ scenarios but are ultimately limited (but please don’t tell them that).

2. Linguistic-Based Chatbots

Linguistic or rules-based chatbots are conversational interfaces that employ if/then logic. They work well in scenarios where the likely questions and needs can be predicted. However, they are time-consuming to implement because of the complexity of mapping the different question-and-need permutations to the correct answer.

For example, the question “How do I get access to international roaming on my mobile?” could be asked in many ways, including “How do I use my mobile abroad?” or “I’m traveling to the UK, what do I need?”

3. Machine Learning Chatbots

While starting with a pre-populated knowledge base, machine-learning-based chatbots grow in capability terms based on historical data, including feedback. They self-improve based on their previous engagements.

This improvement might be understanding of which solutions work better for given requests. Or it could be personalization, whereby the chatbot knows the context of a question based on what it knows about the question asker. Perhaps bringing in their personal data, such as their location and the software on their device, to help refine the solution to the posed issue.

4. Voice-Enabled Bots

The above chatbot examples have assumed a physical interface, where the assistance seeker uses a screen to engage. Alternatively, as with consumer-world devices such as Amazon Echo products, the interface can be via voice commands and verbal responses (just ask Siri, if you’re still confused).

5. Hybrid Chatbots

As the name suggests, hybrid chatbots are built using different elements from the above chatbot types. They benefit from the opportunities for machine learning to deal with complexity but can also rely on more traditional capabilities if most appropriate. They could also offer the choice of text-based or voice-based conversational interactions.

What Types of Chatbot Solutions Are Used in ITSM?

While an ITSM tool vendor could offer any of the above chatbot types in their solution, the complexity of IT and the demands of employees means that ITSM chatbots require machine learning and natural language understanding (NLU) capabilities.

The Best Chatbot Solution for ITSM

The best ITSM chatbot solutions also go beyond the need to answer end-user questions, perhaps by presenting the most relevant knowledge article. They additionally offer up other neat ITSM tool capabilities like:

  • The immediate download of software
  • The ordering of physical devices (perhaps including an approval process)
  • Access to end-user-invoked automated resolution tools (perhaps through service orchestration)
  • The ability to log an incident or a change request
  • Speaking to a human with all relevant conversation details (plus end-user device data) handed over

Benefits of Using ITSM Automated Chatbot Services

ITSM chatbot services offer the benefits of traditional automation and more across all three of “better, faster, cheaper” service delivery and support operations.

1. 24/7 Chatbot Services

ITSM chatbot services are available all day, every day. And that’s not just a gym slogan.

These 24/7 chatbots provide employees, especially in these remote and flexible working times, with IT support whenever they need it. They also allow IT support operations to scale to handle seasonal peaks rather than needing to employ additional staff or for end users to experience unacceptable delays.

2. Reduced Waiting Times

ITSM chatbots offer end users an immediate response to their needs. First, there’s no need to wait in an IT service desk telephone queue. Second, where incident resolution or service provisioning is required, this can be done by the chatbot service invoking automation or service orchestration capabilities. Third… actually the first two were already good enough.

3. Seamless Solutions Between Tech and People

ITSM chatbot services offer end users options, and seamless integration between technology-delivered and human-based support. Not only can end users decide between using the chatbot or contacting the IT service desk, but the chatbot service can also pass the end user to a human service desk agent when needed. This handover might be at the end user’s request, or it might be that a human is better suited to meet the end user’s need (1:0 for humanity).

4. Personalization with AI-Chatbots

The best chatbot solutions use machine learning capabilities to personalize the service and support experience. This personalization can be as simple as automatically knowing information related to the end user, such as the devices they use. Or it could be based on their previous support interactions – for example, “This is the third time you have had this issue; I’ll arrange for a replacement device.”

5. Cost Optimization

There are various reasons why ITSM chatbots are kinder to your IT budget. First, they are cheaper than employing the human equivalent (ouch). Second, they can handle more end-user engagements simultaneously. Third, they operate far more swiftly than humans, particularly when retrieving and presenting relevant knowledge articles.

6. Better End-User Experiences

When implemented correctly, and subject to ongoing management and optimization, chatbot services will deliver overall better employee experiences.

How to Implement a Chatbot Automation for ITSM

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to chatbot automation. There will be many similarities across organizations, but differences will also need to be considered and addressed. It’s therefore vital to start your ITSM chatbot initiative with suitable scoping.

1. Identify Your Audience and Their Needs

Your automated chatbot implementation needs to align with business needs. The only way to understand these needs is to identify the involved parties and how an ITSM chatbot would help them across all three of “better, faster, cheaper.”
This requirements-gathering exercise is for the desired use cases, the terminology used, and how the chatbot functions for users. There will also be management information requirements to address.

2. Choose Your Planned Platform

The important thing here is not to invest in a service bot capability or broader ITSM tool or platform and only then start to figure out how to use it. Instead, look for the best chatbot solution for your needs once you know exactly how it will be used – both initially and in the future.

3. Identify What Success Looks Like

Don’t start without agreeing on suitable success metrics, as with any project. Plus, the baseline level against which to measure progress. Your chatbot service will develop over time, too – from changing end-user needs to the optimization machine learning brings. Therefore, your chatbot success metrics will also need to extend beyond the life of the implementation project.

4. Implement and Review

Importantly, chatbot implementation is less about bringing the technology into the production environment and more about how it initially works relative to end-user needs. This relates to how the “engagement” works and the level of offered capabilities – from knowledge presentation to automation and service orchestration.

ITSM Chatbots, What’s the Final Verdict?

ITSM chatbots, or service bots, are a great addition to existing IT service delivery and support capabilities. Chatbot automation delivers various benefits across everyone’s favorite winning trio of “better, faster, cheaper” that fulfill the needs of multiple business strategies. This includes digital transformation, flexible working, operational efficiency savings, and cost reduction. Also, you’ll have a bunch of cool robots helping you out.

About

the Author

Oded Moshe
Oded Moshe

Oded has been leading product development at SysAid for 13 years and is currently spearheading strategic product partnerships. He’s a seasoned product and IT management executive with over 18 years of experience. He is passionate about building and delivering innovative products that solve real-world problems.

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