As it turns out, demands on the help desk have not declined in correlation to the growing use of automation tools, nor has the number of users each agent can support increased. What support automation has done, however, is allow the same number of agents to keep up with increased demand and do so on the same, and sometimes smaller, budget.
Has it made a major impact on the support requirements of an organization? I dont think so, said Forrester Research Vice President Chip Gliedman. We seem to be hovering at one to one-and-a-half incidents per person per month (and) one help desk person being able to support about 150 business users. Were at an equilibrium point."
Increased efficiencies drove 33% of respondents to implement e-support and self-service technology, while 17% did so to reduce the number of support requests. Customer satisfaction was the key driver for 15% of respondents, while customer demand accounted for 8%.
Very few indicated cost reduction as the primary driver for implementing automation support. And that is a good thing because in the long run, the primary benefits a company will realize from support automation are increased efficiencies and increased productivity for both end users and agentsnot direct costs savings.
But efficiency and productivity do impact the bottom line, which is why self-help tools for end users is such a popular automation strategy.
Self-service, which many customers demand and take advantage of when available, is changing the way companies do business, particularly in the financial services, telecommunications and high-tech sectors, according to the SupportIndustry.com report.
And while its true that self-service carries a lower median cost per incident than phone or email support ($5 as compared to $20 and $16 respectively) that doesnt automatically translate into direct cost savings for the help desk.
Case-in-point: Automated password resets.
It wont save a lot of money because password resets take only about a minute. Youd have to save 75,000 password resets to reduce one person from the help desk. But its a piece of the automation puzzle, said Forresters Gliedman. A lot of times, its just for user satisfaction If I can easily reset it, Im less likely to write my password down and stick it to the bottom of my drawer.
What it does do is give end users the ability to resolve issues on their own and typically far more quickly than is possible when the help desk must be called in. Plus, self-help tools dont have to be high-end technological wonders to make an impact.
Offering end users access to such online tools as knowledge bases, webinars and other training and help resources can go a long way toward reducing demand on the help desk and shortening downtime.
"Theres no reason why you should have multiple people calling for the same information when you can put it in one place and point everyone to it .They are saving time and money, but theyre saving it through the elimination of redundancy," said Gliedman.