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AI transforms the IT support experience

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We know that understanding clients’ technical issues is paramount for delivering effective support service. Enterprises demand prompt and accurate solutions to their technical issues, requiring support teams to possess deep technical knowledge and communicate action plans clearly. Product-embedded or online support tools, such as virtual assistants, can drive more informed and efficient support interactions with client self-service.

About 85% of execs say generative AI will be interacting directly with customers in the next two years. Those who implement self-service search into their sites and tools can become exponentially more powerful with generative AI. Generative AI can learn from vast datasets and can produce nuanced and personalized replies. The ability to understand the underlying context of a question (considering variables such as tone, sentiment, and context) empowers AI to provide responses that align with the user’s specific needs, and with automation can execute tasks, such as opening a ticket to order a replacement part.

Even when topics come up that the virtual assistants can’t solve on its own, automation can easily connect clients with a live agent who can help. If escalated to a live agent, an AI-generated summary of the conversation history can be provided, so they can seamlessly pick up where the virtual assistant left off.

As a developer of AI, IBM works with thousands of clients to help them infuse the technology throughout their enterprise for new levels of insights and efficiency. Much of our experience comes from implementing AI in our own processes and tools, which we can then bring to client engagements.

Our clients tell us their businesses require streamlined proactive support processes that can anticipate the user needs leading to faster responses, minimized downtime and future issues.

Clients can self-service 24/7 and proactively address potential issues

IBM Technology Lifecycle Services (TLS) leverage AI and automation capabilities to offer streamlined support services to IBM clients through various channels, including chat, email, phone and the web. Integrating AI and automation into our customer support service tools and operations was pivotal for enhancing efficiency and elevating the overall client experience:

  • Online chat via Virtual Assistant: The IBM virtual assistant is designed to streamline service operation by providing a consistent interface to navigate through IBM. With access to various guides and past interactions, many inquiries can be first be addressed through self-service. Additionally, it can transition to a live agent if needed, and alternatively open a ticket to be resolved by a support engineer. This experience is unified across IBM and powered by watsonx, IBM’s AI platform.
  • Automated help initiated through the product: IBM servers and storage systems have a feature called Call Home/Enterprise Service Agent (ESA) which clients can enable to automatically send notifications to IBM 24x7x365. When Call Home has been enabled, the products will send to IBM the appropriate error details (such as for a drive failure, or firmware error). For errors received which require corrective actions (where valid support entitlement is in place), a service request will be automatically opened and worked per the terms of the client’s support contract. In fact, 91% of Call Home requests were responded to through automation. Service requests are electronically routed directly to the appropriate IBM support center with no client intervention. When a system reports a potential problem, it transmits essential technical detail including extended error information, such as error logs and system snapshots. The typical result for clients is streamlined problem diagnosis and resolution time.
  • Automated end-to-end view of clients’ IT infrastructure:  IBM Support Insights Pro provides visibility across IBM clients’ IBM and multivendor infrastructure to unify the support experience. It highlights potential issues and provides recommended actions. This cloud-based service is designed to help IT teams proactively improve uptime and address security vulnerabilities with analytics-driven insights, inventory management and preventive maintenance recommendations. The service is built to help clients improve IT reliability, reduce support gaps and streamline inventory management for IBM and other OEM systems. Suggested mitigations and “what-if” analysis comparing different resolution options can help clients and support personnel identify the best option, given their chosen risk profile. Today, over 3,000 clients are leveraging IBM Support Insights to manage more than four million IT assets. 

Empowering IBM support agents with automation tools and AI for faster case resolution and insights

Generative AI offers another advantage by discerning patterns and insights from the data it collects, engineered to help support agents navigate complex issues with greater ease. This capability provides agents comprehensive visibility into the clients’ situation and history, empowering them to offer more informed assistance. Additionally, AI can produce automated summaries, tailored communications and recommendations such as teaching clients on better uses of products, and offer valuable insights for the development of new services.

At IBM TLS, having access to the watsonx technology and automation tools we have built services to help our  support engineers to work more productively and efficiently. These include:

  • Agent Assist is an AI cloud service, based on IBM watsonx, and used by IBM support agents. At IBM, we have an extensive product knowledge base, and pulling the most relevant information quickly is paramount when working on a case. Agent Assist supports teams by finding the most relevant information in the IBM knowledge base and providing recommended solutions to the agent. It helps agents save time by getting to the desired information faster.
  • Case summarization is another IBM watsonx AI-powered tool our agents use. Depending on complexity, some support cases can take several weeks to resolve. During this time, information such as problem description, analysis results, action plans and other communication takes place between the IBM Support team and the client.  Providing updates and details for a case is crucial throughout its duration until resolution. Generative AI is helping to simplify this process, making it easier to create case summaries with minimal effort.
  • The IBM Support portal, powered by IBM Watson and Salesforce, provides a common platform for our clients and support agents to have a unified view of support tickets, regardless of how they were generated (voice, chat, web, call home and email). Once authenticated, the users have visibility into all cases for their company across the globe. Additionally, IBM support agents can track of support trends across the globe which are automatically analyzed and leveraged to provide fast proactive tips and guidance. Agents get assistance with first course of action and the creation of internal tech-notes to aid with generating documentation during case closure process. This tool also helps them identify “Where is” and “How to” questions, which helps identify opportunities to improve support content and product user experience.

Meeting client needs and expectations in technical support involves a coordinated blend of technical expertise, good communication, effective use of tools and proactive problem-solving. Generative AI transforms customer service by introducing dynamic and context-aware conversations that go beyond simple question-and-answer interactions. This leads to a refined and user-centric interaction. Additionally, it can automate tasks, analyze data to identify patterns and insights and facilitate faster resolution of customer issues.

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