Will AI replace the Service Desk Agent?

Will AI replace the Service Desk Agent?

The work of service desk teams is increasingly demanding, partly due to the higher complexity of the topics they address. Without more advanced tools, keeping up is a significant challenge, based on Gartner research, IT Key Metrics Data 2024. This is impacting user satisfaction. The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in various forms promises to provide a solution. 

In this context, it's common for Service Desk agents to raise concerns about their job security. However, as the following article will show, AI is here to aid them, not replace them. 

male-customer-service-executive-talking-headset-modern-officeWork at the Service Desk is largely communication-based, and years of automation haven't significantly changed this. Based on Gartner, over 80 percent of all requests and tickets are still handled 'manually' by agents. Furthermore, based on our experience in European markets, 40 percent of these are managed via more labor-intensive channels such as phone calls and emails. 

Typically, agents write each email from scratch, tailoring it to the required language and current company policies. While these are often routine communications, they can be time-consuming. 

IT environments are growing more complex. Coupled with a shortage of skilled workers at the Service Desk, companies are finding it increasingly challenging to recruit adequate personnel for handling service requests. Agents now tackle more complicated topics, but the ratio of agents to user contacts remains practically the same. As a result, Service Desk employees need more time per incident. 

However, they could only afford this additional time if they handle fewer cases or concentrate more on aspects that require their expertise than routine communication. Given that the number of contacts per agent isn't decreasing, we need to explore ways to free up more of the agents' time. 

How AI relieves Service Desk agents from repetitive tasks 

AI can significantly aid agents in Service Desk use cases, enabling them to comprehend user requests faster and formulate suitable responses more swiftly. Such IT Service Management (ITSM) AI can summarize the core insights from a statement or request, and help devise plausible replies, whether it's for initial contacts, status updates, or other types of requests. Moreover, it can also finalize, or correct emails initiated or drafted by agents. Therefore, conversations, messages, or email exchanges can be resolved in a shorter time.

Service Desk Agent at Work with ITSM Software Efecte and the support of AI

Customer cases indicate that ITSM AI is notably supportive for agents when dealing with initial, critical emails, and providing multi-language support. Although it remains essential for human agents to review the final response sent to users, the substantial productivity boost from AI assistance is remarkable. 

By eliminating the tedious task of formulating responses alone, the Service Desk worker can answer on average 14 percent more inquiries per hour, according to a recent study by MIT (Generative AI at work). The easing of work primarily boosts the productivity of less proficient users, who therefore also derive more satisfaction from their work. End-user satisfaction also increases due to faster and higher quality responses in any language. 

How chatbots can contribute to Service Desk automation 

The effort for problem-solving can be diminished even before the user interacts with an agent, thanks to Natural Language Processing (NLP). This technology underpins a new generation of chatbots, enabling them to facilitate a more lifelike dialogue compared to their rule-based predecessors. These advanced chatbots allow users to voice their concerns in everyday language, responding in-context using natural language. 

However, it's important to note that chatbots don't manage the entire incident or service request process. They primarily handle simpler, repetitive issues. When it comes to more complex cases, human expertise is still vital. This kind of artificial intelligence assists in pinpointing the user's issue. It allows agents to bypass the time-consuming step of gathering basic facts for every contact, enabling them to go straight into the specifics. Furthermore, this also helps organizations handle growing numbers of requests with a consistent high quality, using the same workforce size. 

Will AI soon replace Service Desk agents? 

According to Gartner’s IT Key Metrics Data 2024, the complexity of requests handled by the Service Desk has risen in recent years. As a result, the success rate for resolving problems at first contact (the "First Contact Resolution Rate") has been dipping — falling to 69% in 2023 from 77% in 2019. However, with the aid of AI-supported conversational systems, a much higher number of incidents can be resolved at a lower escalation level. This leaves more time and energy to tackle truly substantial hurdles. In essence, artificial intelligence provides agents with a chance to take a breath, reflect, and find solutions to complex issues. 

7261Practice shows that many agents are unable to fully tap into their potential because of the sheer number of routine tasks they deal with. Most likely, they aspire to tackle tasks that challenge them adequately. They'd probably wish to further develop their skills if given the opportunity. However, the heavy workload often leaves them with neither the time nor the justification they need for additional qualifications. 

Now, as AI takes on some of their routine tasks, it opens up the opportunity for a quality offensive in ITSM. With AI making room for more time and emphasis on professional knowledge, the service could be significantly improved while maintaining the same number of agents. This, in the end, could prove to be a valuable investment. After all, an efficient IT service and satisfied users directly affect an organization’s overall performance. Hence, well-trained and motivated agents need not worry much about job security.  

For further information about AI support in ITSM, including Efecte's solution "Effie AI", refer to Efecte | Effie AI. AI is set to significantly boost the productivity and efficiency of Service Desks, thereby helping to alleviate challenges posed by the ongoing shortage of skilled workers. Rather than replacing professionals, AI enables them to dedicate their time and effort towards more complex tasks, where their expertise and human touch are necessary. 


If you are interested in implementing AI to help your Service Desk teams to work faster, more productively and with higher quality, while staying in full control of the data, we recommend taking a look at our Effie AI for Agents WhitepaperIn it you‘ll find out how a customer improved productivity by 50% in Service Desk, along with recommendations to help you decide the optimal approach to GenAI models and hosting for your organization.


Want to discuss?

Drop us a message, and let us know what your AI challenge in Service Management is. We'll be happy to help.

 Araceli del Rio Sastre

Araceli del Rio Sastre works as Head of Product Marketing in Efecte. Modern product marketing plays an essential role, incorporating market and customer input throughout all stages of the product value creation process. Before joining Efecte, Araceli worked in various international positions at Nokia Software. She has a wide-ranging background which includes strategy, product management, marketing, and sales, as well as service delivery in software solutions, with special focus on analytics and AI.

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