Despite Shift to Accommodate Hybrid Workforce, Employees Experience Dissatisfaction and Loss of Productivity Due to Outdated ITSM Tools, New Research Reveals
Espressive, the pioneer in artificial intelligence (AI) for enterprise service management (ESM), announced results from the Virtual Support Agent Strategies for Today’s Hybrid Workforce research that reveals that despite being in the second year of the pandemic, most ITSM organizations have not redesigned employee support for a hybrid world. The prevalence of a hybrid workforce has resulted in an increased demand on IT help desk teams who now need to support both onsite and remote employees 24/7. The survey, fielded by Gatepoint Research, includes insights from senior decision makers across a broad range of industries and uncovers the obstacles employees face when seeking IT support. The research also found that organizations using VSAs are realizing tangible benefits such as a decline in ticket volumes, improvement in time to resolution, and service desk agent productivity.
“Most hoped the hybrid workplace would be temporary, but as this new reality settles in for the long term, IT leaders must assess and prioritize how automation can help lessen the burden on IT support teams while improving satisfaction and productivity for all employees.”
“The pandemic ushered in the new hybrid workplace and while this has provided employees with more flexibility, it has been a different story for IT service desk teams who have been increasingly inundated with the new responsibility of supporting both in-office and remote employees. This shift happened almost overnight,” said Pat Calhoun, founder and CEO of Espressive. “Most hoped the hybrid workplace would be temporary, but as this new reality settles in for the long term, IT leaders must assess and prioritize how automation can help lessen the burden on IT support teams while improving satisfaction and productivity for all employees.”
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Hybrid Employees Are Getting IT Support with Outdated Tools
Despite the availability of new services and tools for getting IT support, remote and hybrid employees are still turning to outdated ways to get help, especially since they no longer have the ability to shoulder tap a colleague while in the office or walk up to a genius bar. Most organizations have not updated their model for employee self-help, forcing remote employees to phone and email the help desk in record numbers.
- Remote employees are more likely to pick up the phone (80%) or utilize a service ticket (73%) as a path to support.
- Other ways remote employees signal a need for support are by email (60%), chat (57%), and an IT portal (56%).
- Collaboration tools are used by just 37% of remote employees, but are still much more common than virtual agents (9%).
Remote Employees Face Constant IT Support Bottlenecks
Current ITSM tools used for support are still not sufficient and result in employee dissatisfaction and lost productivity. The Gatepoint Research 2019 Pulse Survey on ITSM found that the number one complaint by more than half of employees (56%) with regard to traditional ITSM solutions is that it is easier to call or email the help desk than it is to use their existing ITSM solution. This complaint has now evolved to a decrease in employee patience with waiting for a resolution, reply times, and ability to reach an agent for IT support.
- More than half of remote workers (57%) reported that waiting too long for their issue to be resolved is their top complaint.
- Other remote workers reported that waiting too long for a reply by email and/or not being able to always reach an agent (44%) and long phone wait times (41%) were top complaints.
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A Flexible Hybrid Workforce Demands 24/7 Support
The hybrid workforce model was designed to provide employees with the flexibility to adjust their work schedules. However, for almost a quarter of respondents (22%), after hours support is not provided.
- More than half of respondents (52%) said IT teams are working in shifts to offer on-call, 24/7 support, while others outsource out-of-hours support (16%) or rely on employee self-help (10%).
- Less than half of those relying on employee self-help automate with a virtual agent.
- 60% rely on portals to serve up the right answers.
Virtual Support Agents Increase Productivity and Solve Overuse of Ticketing
The report also highlighted that despite the need for automation for employee self-help, 53% of organizations do not have a strategy for virtual agents. This leaves organizations exposed to the possibility of a myriad of chatbot and virtual agent solutions to support in addition to a difficult employee experience when trying to navigate them. A VSA capable of understanding and resolving issues across the enterprise provides one place for employees to go to get the answers they need. Over a quarter of respondents already use a VSA. Of this group, 24% said that their ticket volumes declined and 17% said their time to resolution has improved, and nearly a third (33%) said employees, including service desk agents, are more productive.
The demand for VSAs is apparent—more than half of respondents (62%) reported that they are using, evaluating, or would consider a virtual agent if the ROI is obvious. More than a third (36%) of respondents have a strategy that either allows departments to have their own VSA or a single agent across the enterprise, and 20% would consider a virtual agent in the future.
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