This blog entry is part of a four-part blog series on how ServiceNow’s Virtual Agent can assist your organisation.

Part 2: Contactless Resolution

Contactless resolution, no contact resolution and zero contact resolution are three ideas that are similar in concept, but are all trying to get essentially the same result.

This concept is not new at all, despite it getting more recent attention. Searching for zero contact resolution in my search engine, brings up a link to something created in 2008 discussing this very topic.

What this concept means and how it can be made a reality though has evolved and will continue to evolve as time continues as the technology to support this evolves.

What Does This Mean?

Contactless resolution means being able to resolve something without contacting a person. In other words, getting a result from self-service and without requiring involvement from another person.

This is different to proactive resolution, which is the ideal scenario and realistically this is something built upon years of experience and data. There will always be issues and requests that cannot be proactively resolved though, as people will always have questions and issues that cannot be predicted or have not been raised before.

Historically this was done through expecting a user to find a knowledge article and using the information from that knowledge article to solve their issue. Before that and outside of anything IT related, you could think of the opening times posted on the window of a local café as a method of contactless resolution.

You could go into a building to ask the opening time from a person, but in terms of contactless resolution this would mean reading a poster outside of it to get the same result.

However, as we as a species become more advance, so do our questions and issues.

As a result, the way we attempt to resolve requests without contact needs to evolve, as the added complexity in certain issues of today’s world are not answerable with the previous methods described.

Virtual Agent

This is where virtual agents come in.

A knowledge article and a poster on a window are all well and good for simple questions and queries, but it does not really evolve as the query evolve. It is a static bit of information. Also, these sources can be information overload (a bit like these blog entries some would say), so are not effective for complex questions. Imagine if you will that you are having printer issues. Historically, you would have searched in search engine with your printer make and issue and browsed around 10 websites, until you realise you do not have the permissions on your machine to be able to resolve this issue alone. Either that, or you will call the service desk, only for them to provide you a knowledge article with a step by step guide that they developed using the official website as a guide. Both “may” work but cannot evolve as your situation evolves without continual contact.

Let’s look at it from a ServiceNow virtual agent point of view.

Fortunately, your organisation has made the effort of saying what printers are assigned to what person and locations in your ServiceNow instance. You browse to your Service Portal and decide to “try” the virtual agent experience. You tell the virtual agent that the printer will not turn on and that takes you to the virtual agent topic related to printer issues. The virtual agent confirms you are working from a certain location with you and then understands that the printer you are having issues with is from a certain manufacturer (as your configuration management database is up to date and your user record says you are working from that location).

In doing this, it can provide step by step trouble shooting issues specific to that printer within a matter of seconds, simply from you typing your initial query and confirming your location. You try a few different steps and then get asked if it was able to solve your issue. It does not, however provides another solution that does. The virtual agent asks if the new recommendation helped and by saying yes, you record this information that then can be reported against to improve the virtual agent in the future.

All in all, this saves you the time of waiting on the phone waiting to talk to IT support, trying to find a website on your own and saves the service desk agent time. A simple sign may help with the opening hours of a business, but won’t help in deciphering complex issues, empowering users to solve their own issues and tracking what the common solutions are to issues to potentially proactively solve them in the future.

However, what does this mean for the service agent now that a “robot” has stolen “their job”.

Service Agent Concerns

One of the most common concerns when looking into virtual agents is how it may impact your service agents’ daily activities. It may not directly impact them, but they may feel as though that their day to day activities will change or they will simply be made redundant.

Yes, their day to day activities will change, but organisations can use this newly procured time to put their service agents to work in improving the virtual agent experience, improving their overall service experience and more importantly improving their business with this newly found time.

Service agents are just that, agents and individuals in place to provide a service to their customers. What can happen that instead of taking the same phone call day in and day out can therefore be exchanged with improving their applications to perform better and creating new services for their end users.

This will improve employee satisfaction and as a result, the retention of employees as it provides a more fulfilling job experience.

Their jobs will not be filled with mundane tasks that require data entry for the sake of data entry, Operational insights will also be more accurate to provide an even better service to their end users as it is no longer manually entered.

Although contactless resolution appears like a negative to the service agents without investigating it, it becomes a positive when it is implemented.

 

This is what really highlights the potential results you can get with a Virtual Agent at all levels of the business.

In the third part of this four-part blog series, we will discuss operational insights and accuracy.

In the meantime, check out this great Virtual Agent demo from ServiceNow.