Artificial intelligence (AI) has entered our lives in an almost unnoticeable way. We’ve invited AI into our homes for convenience and the “coolness factor.” Using basic voice assistants we move from playing music on demand to cars that park themselves. As consumers, we have grown accustomed to AI guiding our journey in the form of product suggestions. We depend on chatbots that are available 24/7 to answer questions or help with a purchases.
Today’s tech-savvy consumers love AI so much that many of them have the power to improve overall customer experiences and resolve most issues faster. For this reason, businesses are jumping on board at a rapid pace.
From the boardroom on down, there is little doubt in AI’s ability to dramatically transform the customer experience. But why isn’t the same attention being given to the employee experience?
The Modern Workforce
The modern workforce is inherently different than the workforce of previous generations. More employees are working remotely than in traditional offices. Recent research shows that by the year 2020 more than 50 percent of employees will enjoy the benefits of working someplace other than a traditional office. In addition to where we work, how we work is also changing.
While millennials have had access to cell phones and the internet for virtually their entire lives, even generations that have not grown up with this technology are embracing well-designed, easy-to-use applications. Employees across industries expect technology to make jobs easier and more productive. However, the bar for what companies believe is user-friendly technology is often way too low.
Even companies that are forward-thinking and want to move beyond antiquated systems, are struggling to implement technology that is as easy to use as Alexa. But just because a company can seamlessly fit Alexa into the current processes and workflow, it’s having a marked impact on retention and employee satisfaction.
Research suggests that a majority of employees that are looking for new jobs are doing so because of broken company processes — including being able to connect with support departments like IT and HR.
Happy Employees = Happy Customers
In this day and age where one bad interaction with a customer can turn them away for life, businesses are so focused on providing exceptional customer experiences that employee experiences becomes an afterthought. Businesses know that if they want to compete with the Amazons of the world, they need to go above and beyond to ensure a superior customer experience.
These businesses have been able to compete by pulling out all the stops and implementing new technologies that allow consumers to do things like virtually design homes with furniture they’re considering buying. Customers can try on clothing in a virtual dressing room. These innovations have changed the game when it comes to customer experience.
But behind the curtain, employees are under constant pressure to provide this experience and are not equipped with the same flashy technologies to help them do their jobs. In fact, technologies designed to support the modern workforce often times do the opposite. These technologies are hindering employees’ productivity, efficiency and, as some would claim, even the ability to produce meaningful work.
In a business-driven world where time is money, no one should struggle to figure out technologies that are supposed to “support” them and make their lives easier. The reality is that many existing support solutions today are outdated and actually work against the employee inhibiting the ability to help the employee and business to thrive. Yet the same employee must produce higher amounts of work under greater strain without this tech support.
Reimagine the Digital Office
How can businesses improve employee experience and give their employees the freedom to do great work? We already know that workplaces of the future are likely to be increasingly more remote workers, as more companies choose to run their businesses from co-working spaces or have no office space at all.
With the workplace becoming more fluid and dynamic, and employees working out of home offices or coffee shops, in varying locations, businesses need to be prepared to support employees across state lines and time zones. We also know that future of the workplace will be increasingly more digital, as the technical innovations that alter the way we live outside the office will become expected in the professional environment as well.
Businesses need to reimagine the workplace the way they’ve reimagined their customers’ journey. Emerging technologies like AI-powered chatbots, for example, are helping with everything from onboarding and training, to providing assistance during meetings, to helping solve common employee questions that often plague IT, HR, facilities and other support teams at organizations. AI is helping businesses save time and energy – while still ensuring employees have help every step of the way.
Another Day, Another Help Ticket
One of the best emerging use cases for AI in the workplace is in IT, which isn’t surprising with IT being the backbone of technology exploration and vetting at organizations. These teams spend a good majority of their days working through cluttered support queues full of repetitive tickets.
Whether its password resets, email access, printer setups, these are questions that can often be found in knowledge management systems or intranets. But when employees have questions — especially if those issues are hindering them from getting work done — they would much rather ask their IT buddy than go searching through a sea of URLs and documents to find the answer.
This endless onslaught of requests cuts down on the amount of time the IT team can devote to higher-value problem solving or long-term strategic initiatives. Not to mention, it must be incredibly frustrating when ten people in one day ask you how to access a remote server. Copy and paste at its finest. IT teams, which are already stretched thin, are drowning in these requests day in and day out, and it becomes a problem for the entire business operation.
IT isn’t the only one affected by this cyclical support queue. While the help desk team is busy working its way through tickets or dealing with an unexpected “fire drills,” employees who are waiting for support grow frustrated with resolution time. Sometimes they even turn to unauthorized solutions that bring their own security implications.
Employing an AI-powered support partner to help answer these questions removes the pain of searching through out-dated and hard to read knowledge articles, empowers employees to self-serve and opens up the IT team to work with the employees who need them the most.
Thanks to Google, today’s workforce is programmed to take a DIY-approach to problem solving and often prefers self-service organizations need to embrace and capitalize on this. AI is one of the ways to help bring it to the workplace.
The Time is Now
The age-old phrase holds true, time is money. But by not focusing on the employee experience, businesses have hampered their own best efforts and caused inefficiencies that impact the bottom line. It’s time to take support out of the dark ages by removing friction from day-to-day work and using tools that enable employees to do their best work.
These efforts will be well worth the efforts to help businesses compete by driving improved employee productivity and satisfaction.